Toronto police have laid charges in a case where they allege an impaired motorist had been driving at 231 kilometres per hour on the Don Valley Parkway.

The incident occurred in Friday's early-morning hours.

A police car had been travelling northbound on the DVP at Wynford Drive when a Mercedes Benz SL600 passed it at a high speed.

Police finally managed to stop the vehicle Highway 404 and Finch Avenue East at 1:53 a.m.

The posted limit on the DVP is 90 kilometres per hour, putting the Mercedes at 141 kilometres per hour over the limit.

Sgt. Tim Burrows of the Toronto Police Service's traffic division told that while the speed isn't a provincial record -- he's heard of the OPP stopping someone doing more than 240 km/h in an 80 km/h zone -- "it's very close."

He did say it's the highest alleged speed "I've ever heard of in Toronto itself."

Such speed poses a great risk to other drivers, even without the alcohol factor, Burrows said.

"At that speed he was travelling, it would take him three-and-a-half football fields to bring that car to a stop -- and that's under perfect road conditions," he said. That distance is about about 350 metres.

"Anything that would have been within the first 150 metres would have been obliterated. He would not have not had any clue that there was something there," Burrows said. "Anything beyond that would have been pure luck if they survived."

Alcohol reduces a person's performance in terms of perception, reaction, judgment and vision -- all required to operate a vehicle in the best of circumstances, he said.

Given the combination of speed and alcohol, it's not surprising the driver passed a police car, Burrows said.

John Kowal, 29, of Aurora has been charged with:

  • Operating a motor vehicle with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
  • Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle
  • Stunt driving

The first two are Criminal Code offences. The latter is a provincial offence, Burrows said.

A stunt-driving charge would result in a seven-day driver's licence suspension, but an over-80 charge means an automatic 90-day suspension, he said.

Under Bill 203, the provincial street-racing legislation, Toronto has seized 726 vehicles. Kowal's vehicle has also been seized.

Toronto had 54 traffic deaths in 2008. Thirteen were tied to excessive speed, while another eight were alcohol-related.

Dog dies

Also on Friday, police responded at 3:56 a.m. to a vehicle fire in the Pottery Road and Bayview Avenue area.

Police allege that a man became involved in a series of collisions with "stationary objects' before leaving the roadway and coming to rest near the CP Rail tracks.

"The vehicle burst into flames causing a dog, trapped inside the vehicle, to die," a news release said.

The driver attempted to flee on foot, but was arrested.

Daniel Dixon Rodrigues, 18, of Toronto, has been charged with:

  • impaired driving
  • operating a motor vehicle with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
  • dangerous operation of a motor vehicle
  • fail to report damage

He has a court appearance scheduled for Feb. 19.