File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / joebelangerFile photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / joebelanger

Ontario to suspend driver's licences of convicted auto thieves

Convicted auto thieves could soon see their driver's licence suspended, possibly indefinitely, under proposed new legislation by the Ontario government.

Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner introduced new stiffer penalties on Tuesday to deter auto thefts. Under the proposed new legislation, first-time auto theft offenders would face a 10-year suspension. That goes up to a 15-year suspension for a second offence and a lifetime licence suspension for a third offence.

“Car theft is a cowardly and often violent crime that can traumatize victims and communities who experience it,” said Sarkaria. “Our government is sending a clear message to those who commit these crimes and using every tool in our toolbox to keep them off our streets.”

The auto theft conviction has to have involved violence, use of a weapon, use of force, threat, or pursuit of financial gain in order for the licence suspension to be applied, the government stipulated.

A vehicle is reportedly stolen every 14 minutes in Ontario and violent carjackings in Toronto have seen a 78 per cent increase since 2021.

Currently, the federally mandated minimum sentence for a third auto theft offence is six months in jail.

The new legislation, to be tabled at Queen's Park on Thursday, also includes similarly strengthened penalties for people convicted of stunt driving. A first time conviction for the offence would come with a one-year mandatory licence suspension, a three-year suspension for a second conviction, and a lifetime ban, reducible to 10 years under certain criteria, for a third conviction.

Last year saw more than 12,000 immediate roadside license suspensions issued for stunt driving on Ontario roads - the highest number since the COVID-19 pandemic.

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