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The 4 Aspects of Traffic Law in Canada

Motor vehicle regulation is one of the most complicated legal challenges of this generation.  This makes the formation of traffic laws and statutes, of course, one of the most complicated processes of our time.

In Canada, the government has chosen to divide this responsibility between three levels of government.  These are the federal, the provincial, and the municipal Canadian governments (very similar to the national, state, and city divisions of the United States) develop and regulate specific laws in Canada.  Common Law MyLawyer.ca rules also come into play as well.


In terms of the Federal government, they really only get involved with traffic law issues that involve criminal violation.  The Canadian Criminal Code, for example, lists a variety of serious offenses that can be tried in a federal court. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • dangerous/wreckless driving
  • driving while impaired by a substance
  • criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle
  • criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle resulting in death


Every province in Canada is responsible for maintaining its own highways and roads that route drivers through its region of governance.  Provincial laws also cover driver conduct in that particular province—which means that these laws can change, slightly, from one province to another.  The Canadian Provincial Highway-Traffic Acts control all issues in regards to the use of provincial roads. This can include:

  • driver licensing
  • vehicle registration
  • vehicle and driving safety
  • motor vehicle conditions
  • motor vehicle operation on provincial roads


Each municipality within the provinces also has jurisdiction and control over highway traffic and road maintenance, as delegated by their home province.  Municipalities cannot necessarily create “new” laws, but can adjust “bylaws”.  Each municipality is also responsible for maintaining safe roads, to the point that a driver can have a civil case if injured while driving on a poorly-maintained road.


Traffic law in Canada also provides massive civil liability regarding individual accidents.  These laws are influenced by provincial law and can vary greatly between the provinces and even between municipalities.

In Canada, though, all provinces have compulsory liability-insurance laws that provide all motor vehicle accident victims with at least some compensation without need for what can ultimately be very expensive litigation.

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