Penalty for destruction of Traffic Signs

Res #: 12-08A
Number: 12
Year: 2008
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No

Resolution No. 12 – 08A
Penalty for Destruction of Traffic Signs

WHEREAS regulatory, warning, construction, and informational road signs are being willfully destroyed and/or removed from rural roads; and

WHEREAS these signs are designated and installed for the protection and interests of the public;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Provincial Government to fine any person or persons who willfully destroy road traffic signs a minimum of $500 for each sign destroyed plus restitution.

Response from Honourable Don Morgan QC, Minister of Justice and Attorney General

Section 28 of The Highways and Transportation Act creates an offence for the "damaging, moving or removing" of traffic signs:

     Destruction of official signs:
1) No person shall damage, move or remove and official sign erected on or adjacent to a public
     highway pursuant to this Act.
     (2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary
     conviction to a fine as set forth in category C in Schedule A.

Secton 3 of Schedule A to the Act provides for a fine of up to $1,000 for a conviction.

     3.  Category C:  Fines to a maximum of $1,000
          Provision          Offence Description
      b.   28(1)              Damaging, moving or removing an official sign.

It should be noted as well that The Summary Offences Procedure Act, 1990 provides that a judge, on application of the prosecuter or on the judge's own initiative, may order restitution for the cost of restoring the sign.  It appears that the current provisions in the Act already allow for fines in the range of those you suggest, although it would depend on whether or not the individual was charged separately in respect of each sign where multiple signs are moved or damaged.  However, no minimum amount is fixed in the legislation.

I am aware of the significant resources that municipalities must expend each year to deal with the wilful destruction or removal of traffic signs.  Cost is not the only issue, as your resolution points out.  The destruction, relocation or removal of signs can also have significant safety reprecussions for the motoring public.

Officials in the Ministries of Highways and Infrastructure, and the Justice and Attorney General will review this issue and consider options.  These could include adding a voluntary payment amount for the offence, encouraging prosecutors to ask for resitution at the time of sentencing, or increasing the maximum fine.