Auto thieves who are convicted under the new federal criminal offence for auto theft would immediately lose their driving licenses under proposed changes to Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Act, Attorney General Andrew Swan announced last week.
“The federal government responded to Manitoba’s call to make auto theft a Criminal Code offence and we are responding here at home by ensuring those convicted of this serious crime are not allowed behind the steering wheel of any vehicle,” Swan said.
The change in law would ensure the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) is consistent with current Manitoba practice where licenses are revoked when an individual is convicted of a variety of Criminal Code offences. The four new Criminal Code offences that come into effect April 29 and would result in an individual losing their license include:
- motor vehicle theft,
- tampering with a vehicle identification number,
- trafficking in property obtained by crime, and
- possession of property obtained by crime for the purpose of trafficking.
Under the HTA, those convicted of these offences would receive an automatic driver’s license suspension ranging from one year to up to a lifetime suspension, depending upon the seriousness of the offence and the driving record of the offender.
Swan said that these changes in the Highway Traffic Act would provide another tool to combat auto theft. Since 2004, auto theft has been reduced by nearly 80 per cent and is at the lowest level in nearly two decades. In addition, the minister has announced that he will be moving forward during this legislative session to close the door on Manitoba Public Insurance benefits for auto thieves.
“We have made important progress dealing with this serious crime against people and their property,” Swan said. “But one auto theft is too many and we will continue to ensure Manitoba is a leader in ensuring that police and prosecutors have the legal tools necessary to take swift and appropriate action against these criminals.”