Is It Illegal to Hitchhike?

Hitchhiking, Meaning Soliciting Drivers For a Ride and Doing So While Standing or Walking Along the Roadway, Is Unlawful and An Offence Contrary to the Highway Traffic Act. The Fine For Hitchhiking Ranges From $60 to $1,000 and Is Also Subject to a Mandatory Victim Surcharge and Court Cost.

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A Helpful Guide For How to Determine the Applicable Penalties For Hitchhiking For a Ride Along a Roadway

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

The law that forbids a person from hitchhiking along the roadway is prescribed by section 177(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8.  For those found guilty of violating section 177(1), the details for the penalty upon conviction are prescribed by section 214(1) of the Highway Traffic Act whereas section 177(1) is actually silent, meaning absent, about the penalty details. Interestingly, what is actually defined as the "roadway" often requires careful review of the definition as per section 1 of the Highway Traffic Act. Within section 177(1), section 214(1), and section 1 of the Highway Traffic Act it is specifically stated:

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 presents a great risk of serious harm to the hitchhiker and possible others using the roadway whereas such is both a distraction and also presents as a hazard when a driver suddenly brakes and swerves to pick up a hitchhiker.  Accordingly, the law forbids hitchhiking and imposes a fine of up to one thousand ($1,000) dollars plus victim surcharge and court cost.


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