The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Office of Protocol) presents its compliments to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Chargés d’Affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada and has the honour to inform Their Excellencies of recent changes to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act that will affect all foreign representatives and their family members who operate motor vehicles in the province of Ontario.
Under the new provincial legislation, police officers in Ontario now have the authority to impound a vehicle for seven (7) days when it is involved in a speeding offence of 50 km/h or more over the posted speed limit. Drivers charged under this legislation will also be automatically subject to a seven (7) day licence suspension, regardless of whether the licence can be seized by the attending police officer. However, in certain instances, the impound of the vehicle may be restricted due to the immunities afforded to the vehicle’s owner.
The Department wishes to advise Their Excellencies that those vehicles that are registered to a diplomatic mission or a consular post will be exempted from the impound process, as per international legislation covering official property.
Vehicles registered to diplomatic agents or their family members will also be exempted from the impound process by virtue of those immunities afforded under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which apply to their personal property.
Privately owned vehicles involved in an incident that results in a charge under the above mentioned legislation may not be exempt from impound in those cases where the registered owner’s immunities are limited to actions undertaken in the course of official duties.
The Department advises that it will seek to ensure that all applicable rights and immunities are observed by the authorities in these cases. However, it is hoped that Their Excellencies will agree with the Department’s view that excessive speeding, in any circumstance, is unacceptable behaviour for foreign representatives and their dependents. As such, the Department will respond immediately to reports of such incidents by employing all available means to assist police in ensuring the safety of the public.
The Department requests that Their Excellencies review this document with their staff across Ontario to ensure that the policy is clearly understood. It should be noted that the Department’s policies will apply in the event that similar incidents are reported from other provinces, even in the absence of legislation specifically targeting excessive speeding.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Office of Protocol) avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Chargés d’Affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada the assurances of its highest consideration.
OTTAWA, February 8, 2008