Law and Legal Aid
If you want to drive while you are here, you must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s licence from your own province, state or country. If you are from another country and visiting Ontario for more than six months, you need an International Driver’s Permit from your own country or you may have to apply for an Ontario driver’s licence, depending on your length of stay. You should also ensure your automobile insurance coverage is sufficient. The following is a limited list of some key aspects of driving laws in the Province of Ontario:
- With most automobile rental companies, the minimum age to rent a vehicle is 21.
- By law, all motor vehicle collisions must be reported to the police if there are any personal injuries or fatalities, and where damage to vehicles is $1,000 or more. Damage to public or private property must also be reported to the police.
- If it is safe to do so, remove vehicles from the roadway.
- Call Police to ensure police presence is not required and obtain the location of the closest Collision Reporting Centre.
- Exchange information with the other involved parties, including independent witnesses. (Names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance companies and vehicle particulars, etc.).
- Notify your insurance company. Delays in doing so could cause your insurance claim to be denied.
- After coming to a full stop, right turns may be made on red lights unless otherwise indicated. Proceed with caution only if the way is clear.
- Traffic travelling in both directions must stop for a yellow school bus when its red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended.
- Seat belts must be worn by both the driver and passengers at all times. Passengers over age 18 will be fined for an infraction while the driver will be fined for infractions made by passengers under the age of 18.
- Speed limits in Canada are in kilometers per hour (km/h).
- Divided highways have a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h, rural highways and country roads 80km/h, urban and populated areas usually range from 40-60 km/h (unless otherwise posted).
- Speed limits are posted.
- Bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey the same traffic laws: do not ride bicycles on sidewalks, through a red traffic light or in opposite direction on a one way street. Bicycles are not allowed on major highways. All riders should wear a helmet and all riders under 18 are required, by law, to do so. For your own protection, always lock bicycles wherever you go. There is a high rate of bicycle theft in Kingston.
- Hitchhiking is not allowed on major highways, nor is it advisable to do so anywhere else.
Further information is available from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
Anyone aged 19 or older may buy alcoholic beverages. In Ontario, alcohol for consumption at home can only be purchased from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), the Beer Store, and the Wine Rack outlets. Drinking hours in licensed establishments in Ontario are from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. In Ontario, it is an offence to consume alcohol anywhere other than a residence or a licensed premises. If caught drinking alcohol on public property (streets, parks, unlicensed buildings other than residences) a fine will have to be paid. It is also an offence to provide alcohol to minors (ie. someone under the age of 19). Driving motor vehicles, including bicycles and boats, while impaired is illegal.
Only persons aged 19 or over may purchase tobacco products. You can be fined for smoking in some public areas where “no smoking” signs posted.
It is illegal to place unpaid objects in pockets or bag/purse when in a store. Many establishments are equipped with surveillance cameras and/or security alarms. The same law applies for library books that have not been properly cleared by the circulation desk.
It is illegal to prevent a fellow citizen from enjoying a quiet time at ANY time of the day. Loud music, parties, fights can all be reported to the police if they are disturbing you or others. A fine may be levied.
Legal Aid is legal advice that is given free to Queen’s students and their families, and low income people who live in the area. The lawyers at Legal Aid can help you with problems you are having with your landlord and with disputes involving money. Visit the Queen’s Law Students’ Legal Aid in Suite 500 at 303 Bagot Street (in downtown Kingston) or call 613-533-2102 to make an appointment. If you are in trouble with the law, it is important that you get professional legal right away. International students and their family members are in Canada as temporary residents and ANY CRIME, however small, could be very serious and threaten your status in Canada.
If you have further questions, after reviewing the information above, advising is available (without an appointment) from the International Student Advisors at the Queen’s University International Centre from Monday to Friday between 1:00pm and 4:30pm.