Speeding Ticket Basics
A Comprehensive Guide to Fighting Your Traffic Ticket!
Getting a Speeding Ticket
Anna MacDonald the accountant watches helplessly as her budget begins to get unbalanced again. Like many people, Anna just wants to avoid spending extra time and money on small daily hassles if she doesn’t have to. But, Anna was ticketed for speeding 31 km/hour or more over the posted limit.
Like the 26,000 folks who got a speeding ticket in Ontario in 2016, she was not pleased to learn how costly the immediate penalties are. Penalties for speeding depend on how many kilometers per hour you were going over the speed limit. It also matters where it happened. For example, fines are doubled if you are in a school zone or a community safety zone, which can be located almost anywhere the city would like them to be.
The fines for a regular speeding ticket (first offence) are:
- $47.50 or less if you are 1-19 km/h over the limit;
- $75.00 – $108.75 if you are 20-29 km/h over the limit;
- $180.00 – $294.00 if you are 30-49 km/h over the limit, and;
- No set fine – mandatory court appearance for 50km/h or more over the limit.
The demerit point penalties for the same offence are:
- 3 points if you are 16-29 km/h over the limit;
- 4 points if you are 30-49 km/h over the limit, and;
- 6 points if you are 50 km/h or more over the limit.
But these are only the visible penalties. Hidden penalties include insurance rate increases of up to 100%, a bad driving record which will influence how other offences are treated, and the possibility of licence suspension. For example, a new full G driver will have their license suspended for 60 days if they accumulate 9 or more points, while G1 and G2 drivers will face a 30 day suspension after accumulating just 6 points. Speeding 50 km/h or more over the limit, or stunt driving as it is considered, is more serious and carries the risk of a jail sentence and an immediate vehicle impound.
“Hidden penalties include insurance rate increases
of up to 100%”
Anna calculated that a conviction for her would mean a $186 fine and 4 demerit points. Anna’s insurance premiums may also go up (check with John what the details are). The good thing is that she won’t get a criminal record, as traffic tickets are provincial offences and are not criminal.
Here are some things to think about if you get a speeding ticket like Anna did:
- Read the ticket front and back and check for any mistakes.
- Search up the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and read the wording under the section you were charged with (ie. S. 427) (Link to OHTA - https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90h08#BK223)
- Don’t miss your 15 day window. You have 15 days from the date that you received the ticket, or if it was delivered to you, from the date that you discovered the ticket, to ask for a trial date. If you do not ask for a trial date within those 15 days, you will be automatically convicted.
Within the 15 day window, you’ll have several options:
- Pay the fine. The first option is to pay the fine outright. This is the fastest thing to do but is expensive in the short and long term, because it leads to a conviction.
- Early resolution. The second option is to go to the courthouse to meet with the prosecutor for an “early resolution meeting”. The downsides of this option are the same as the above except that it also involves meeting with the prosecutor. On the upside, you have a very high chance of having the penalty of your ticket reduced by making a deal to plead guilty.
- Request a trial. The third option is to fill out a form to request a trial. This option takes more time, but it gives you a chance to avoid conviction. Avoiding conviction would mean that you don’t pay the fine, you don’t increase your insurance rate, and you don’t get any demerit points, license suspension, or driving record. If you try this option and fail, you may still save some money on your insurance rate by pushing the conviction date into the future, but you may not get as good of a deal on your penalty. If you succeed, then you will avoid all the penalties.
Choosing the Best Option
“The only way to know whether you can beat the ticket is to book a trial”
The only way to know whether or not you can beat the ticket is to book a trial. Once you do this, you are allowed to ask for disclosure. Disclosure is a document that outlines the evidence that would be used against you if you go to trial. This will be your main tool to fight your ticket!
For speeding tickets, disclosure usually includes:
- The officer’s notes about the day you were ticketed, including weather and traffic conditions.
- The officer’s notes about the use of a speed detection device, such as Lidar or Radar.
- Any other evidence like video or audio recordings, statements made by you or another person, or any other evidence relevant to the case.
You can get your disclosure from the City Prosecutor’s Office, and you must ask for disclosure in wiring. You can contact the Court Services call centre at (416) 338-7320 or visit their website to figure out the address of your local Crown office that deals with traffic tickets.
Before you plead guilty or not guilty to a ticket, make sure you understand all the penalties. This includes the fine amounts, points, any license suspension, and any impact on your insurance rates.
Unlike a criminal charge, for a speeding ticket the crown prosecutor does not have to prove that you had a “guilty mind” and had an intention to speed. At trial they just have to prove that the act itself (ie. Anna was going 81 km/h where the posted speed limit was 50 km/h), along with the basics like where and when it happened, and who did it. The Crown must show proof beyond a reasonable doubt about these factors.
Fine payments – Keep in mind that you can ask for extra time to pay any fine you get. You can also ask to change the timing of your license suspension to a time that is more convenient for you.
Finally, remember that speeding increases the risk of crashes, injury and death. So please, slow down, and drive safely.