Are Snowmobiles Subject to Speed Limits?
Snowmobiles Are Subject to Speed Limits As Prescribed Within the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act and Violations of Speed Limits May Result In Charges As An Offence Subject to a Maximum $1,000 Fine.
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A Helpful Guide For How to Defend Snowmobile Speeding Charges
Just as there are speed limits that apply when driving an automobile, there are speed limits that apply when driving a snowmobile. The speed limit applicable to snowmobiles varies depending on where the snowmobile is driven as well as municipal bylaws that may be in effect.
What Is the Speed Limit That Applies to Snowmobiles?
The speed at which a snowmobile may be legally driven depends on the nature of the place where the snowmobile is being driven. Generally, unless altered by a local bylaw, the speed limit for snowmobiles is stated within section 14 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.44 which states:
14 (1) No person shall drive a motorized snow vehicle at a greater rate of speed than,
(a) 20 kilometres per hour,
(i) on a highway where the speed limit established pursuant to the Highway Traffic Act is 50 kilometres per hour or less, or
(ii) in any public park or exhibition grounds; or
(b) 50 kilometres per hour,
(i) on any highway which is open to motor vehicle traffic, where the speed limit established pursuant to the Highway Traffic Act is greater than 50 kilometres per hour, or
(ii) on a trail.
Municipality may prescribe different rate of speed
(2) The council of a municipality may by by-law prescribe,
(a) a lower rate of speed for motorized snow vehicles upon any highway or part thereof under its jurisdiction; and
(b) a higher or lower rate of speed for motorized snow vehicles upon a trail, public park or exhibition ground under its jurisdiction,
than is prescribed in subsection (1).
Minister may prescribe different rate of speed
(3) The Minister may by regulation prescribe a higher or lower rate of speed upon any trail or any part thereof, public park or exhibition ground not under the jurisdiction of a municipality, than is prescribed in subsection (1).
(5) Speed limits prescribed by this section or any regulation made or by-law passed under this section do not apply to a motorized snow vehicle operated by a police officer or conservation officer in the lawful performance of his or her duties.
Interestingly, unless upon a "highway", "trail", public park, or exhibition ground, it appears that other places are without a speed limit applicable to the driving of a snowmobile. While an explicit speed limit for other places may be lacking, an implicit speed limit per se may apply whereas excessive speed in any place may rise to the level of careless driving per section 15 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act or even dangerous operation of a conveyance per section 320.13 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, depending on the circumstances involved, and therefore become a potentially severe offence.
What Is the Punishment For Speeding With a Snowmobile?
Whereas section 14 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act is silent, meaning lacking details, regarding the potential fine, reference to section 25 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, being the section providing for a general penalty where a penalty is otherwise absent, is required. Specifically, section 25 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act states:
25 Every person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations is guilty of an offence and on conviction where a fine for the contravention is not otherwise provided for herein is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Accordingly, the fine applicable upon a conviction for speeding with a snowmobile is a maximum of one thousand ($1,000) dollars. Interestingly, and unlike most fines for an offence, the provision fails to prescribe a minimum fine.
While driving a snowmobile upon a "highway", "trail", public park, or exhibition ground, the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act provides for speed limits that may be amended by a local municipality. While other places, such as frozen lakes, appear as without a snowmobile speed limit, it is notable that excessive speed, especially where an incident occurs due to excessive speed, may give rise to other offences such as careless driving or perhaps even dangerous operation of a conveyance.