Is Hitchhiking Against the Law?

As Per Section 177(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, Hitchhiking Is Unlawful and Subject to Penalties That Include a Fine Ranging From $60 to $1,000 As Well As a Mandatory Victim Surcharge and Court Cost.

Understanding the Highway Traffic Act Charge For Hitchhiking Including the Applicable Penalties

Man With Thumb Up Looking Soliciting For a Ride Along Highway When a person is standing or walking along the side of a road with a thumb up seeking a driver who will stop and provide the person with a ride, such conduct is colloquially known as hitchhiking. In Ontario, this type of conduct is unlawful as such poses a potential danger including risks that the person hitchhiking may be accidentally struck by a motor vehicle. A risk also exists where a driver of a motor vehicle may slow and change lanes suddenly in the effort to pick up the hitchhiker, surprising other drivers, and thereby cause an accident.

The Law

As per section 177(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, standing or walking along a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from drivers, otherwise known as hitchhiking, is an offence. What actually constitutes as the "roadway" may require careful review whereas the definition is provided within section 1 of the Highway Traffic Act. The applicable penalty upon a conviction for hitchhiking is found in the general penalty section of the Highway Traffic Act at section 214(1). Specifically, section 177(1), section 214(1), and section 1 of the Highway Traffic Act state:

Soliciting rides prohibited

177(1) No person, while on the roadway, shall solicit a ride from the driver of a motor vehicle other than a public passenger conveyance.

General penalty

214 (1) Every person who contravenes this Act or any regulation is guilty of an offence and on conviction, where a penalty for the contravention is not otherwise provided for herein, is liable to a fine of not less than $60 and not more than $1,000.

roadway” means the part of the highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic, but does not include the shoulder, and, where a highway includes two or more separate roadways, the term “roadway” refers to any one roadway separately and not to all of the roadways collectively;

As show above, the general penalty prescribed by section 214(1) of the Highway Traffic Act imposes a fine ranging from sixty ($60) dollars to one thousand ($1,000) dollars for hitchhiking.  Furthermore, a statutory victim surcharge plus court cost will also apply.

Summary Comment

Hitchhiking poses a risk of serious injury or death to the person that is hitchhiking, among others; and accordingly, hitchhiking is unlawful and subject to a potential fine of one thousand ($1,000) dollars plus victim surcharge and court cost.

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