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Understand the Charge

The Highway Traffic Act defines

"stop" or "stopping", when prohibited, means the halting of a vehicle, even momentarily, whether occupied or not, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or of a traffic control sign or signal; ("arrêt")

The words "even momentarily" are extremely important. Many people, including police officers, mistakenly remember their driver training course where they were told to stop for three seconds. There is no 3-second rule under the Highway Traffic Act. It was a technique used by instructors to get inexperienced drivers to stop and pay attention to the road. The law requires you to stop, but it does not say how long. It could be for a fraction of a second and still be valid. In fact, if the police officer blinked, he might have missed it!

A charge under section 136 results if you do not stop:

136.(1) Every driver or street car operator approaching a stop sign at an intersection,
(a) shall stop his or her vehicle or street car at a marked stop line or, if none, then immediately before entering the nearest crosswalk or, if none, then immediately before entering the intersection; and
(b) shall yield the right of way to traffic in the intersection or approaching the intersection on another highway so closely that to proceed would constitute an immediate hazard and, having so yielded the right of way, may proceed.

Acquiring right of way
(2) Every driver or street car operator approaching, on another highway, an intersection referred to in subsection (1), shall yield the right of way to every driver or operator who has complied with the requirements of subsection (1).

Note that there are two elements to stopping. You must stop in one of three places:

  • at the line;
  • before the crosswalk; or
  • before the intersection.

And you must proceed into the intersection with caution. You must do both things: stop at the appropriate place AND proceed with caution. Failing to do so will result in a charge.

There is no requirement to stop at the stop sign. There is a priority of where you should stop. Sometimes the car in front of you may stop incorrectly in the intersection while you are stopped correctly at the line. The car in front of you proceeds and so do you. You end up with a ticket because you did not demonstrate that you were proceeding with caution.

The last important element to understanding the charge is contained in section 137:

Stop signs, erection at intersections
137. In addition to stop signs required at intersections on through highways, (a) the council of a municipality may by by-law provide for the erection of stop signs at intersections on highways under its jurisdiction; and
(b) the Minister may by regulation designate intersections on the King's Highway at which stop signs shall be erected,
and every sign so erected shall comply with the regulations of the Ministry.

In other words, there must be a by-law creating the stop sign. Under Step 3, examples are given of signs that require by-laws. Under disclosure, you should receive a copy of the by-law. If you don't, you can argue improper disclosure and adjourn or stay your trial. This is one of the easiest ways to beat your charge and Step 4 explains how to do this.

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