If police charge you with speeding in Canada, the offence is unlikely to make headlines in the local media. That is unless the speed was so excessive that it generated “stunt driving” charges, as happened to a 26-year-old Toronto man who was clocked going twice the speed limit on Highway 400.
That man is undoubtedly trying to figure out how to fight the charges, given that penalties for stunt driving include fines of up to $10,000, six months imprisonment, and a minimum one-year driver’s license suspension. But what about you? Should you fight the charges if you get a speeding ticket on the 401 or receive a speeding ticket in the mail generated by an automated speed enforcement camera?
The Greater Toronto Area traffic ticket lawyers of Mass Tsang will advise you that, in many cases, fighting a speeding ticket in Canada is worth the effort. By successfully contesting a speeding ticket, you avoid the extensive fines, demerit points, license suspension, and higher insurance rates that can result from paying the fine or pleading guilty in court.
Skilled traffic violation lawyers—like those at Mass Tsang—are intimately familiar with traffic law and how to effectively fight speeding tickets in court. Let’s take a closer look at speeding tickets and why you should fight them in court.
Speeding Laws Across the Country
Every province has their own unique traffic laws, but all regulate speed limits similarly. Speeding fines are scaled according to the extent of speed over the limit, and most provinces assign demerit points to those caught speeding. The accumulation of demerit points can lead to license suspension. Speeding in specific zones—construction, for example—and under certain conditions can enhance fine amounts and increase demerit points, while excessive speed can result in license suspension.
Speeding in any province leads to a likely increase in insurance rates, and most provinces have reciprocal agreements that exchange traffic ticket information. Thus, an Ontario driver who gets a speeding ticket in Nova Scotia will get penalized in their province with demerit points according to its schedule for awarding them.
In general, the average fine by province for speeding 20 kilometres over the limit ranges from $100 to $200. The maximum penalties for street racing and stunt driving—which most provinces characterize as either 40 or 50 kilometres over the limit—vary widely among the provinces, with a low of $483 in British Columbia and a high of $10,000 in five provinces.
Speeding Laws in Ontario
Ontario Speeding regulations are delineated under Section 28 of the province’s Highway Traffic Act. In most cases, police issue speeding drivers with a ticket that lists the offence (amount of speed over the limit), the fine, and demerit points. Drivers can admit guilt by paying the fine or must appear in court if they want to dispute it. In cases involving excessive speed or other aggravating factors, drivers are issued a summons to appear in court and must attend the posted date and either admit guilt or try to fight the charges.
Speeding fines and demerit points are scaled according to the excessive speed over the limit. The scale used for fines is:
20 kilometres or less over the speed limit—$3 for each kilometre.
20-30 kilometres over the speed limit—$4.50 for each one.
30-50 kilometres over—$7 for each.
50 or more kilometres—$9.75 for each one.
Speeding in a construction zone doubles these amounts.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation uses demerit points to assess driver quality and determine whether drivers should be licensed. Accumulating more than 15 demerit points leads to license suspension. Ontario bases the issuance of speeding-based demerit points on this scale:
0-15 kilometres over the limit—no points.
16-29 kilometres over—three points.
20-49 kilometres over—four points.
50 kilometres or more over—six points and a 30-day license suspension.
Novice drivers with a Class G1, G2, M1, or M2 license face stiffer demerit penalties for speeding, as their license can be suspended for any traffic violation that comes with four or more points or through the accumulation of six or more points. A first-time suspension lasts for 30 days, a subsequent one for 60 days, and a third results in license cancellation.
The Impact on Insurance Rates
Insurers track traffic violations by periodically reviewing drivers’ abstracts, which keeps a record of any infractions. Insurers increase rates due to speeding based on internal rules, how much the speed limit was exceeded, and how many other violations—speeding or otherwise—the driver has already accumulated. In general, a first-time minor speeding conviction may only result in a 10% rate increase. Still, excessive speed or other aggravating factors will lead to higher hikes, and multiple tickets or a major conviction could lead to insurance cancellation and the need to seek high-risk insurance. Note also that any license suspension can cause insurance premiums to rise by 100%.
Reasons You Should Fight a Speeding Ticket
From reading the above, you can probably discern why you might want to fight a speeding ticket in court rather than just admit guilt by paying the fine. While avoiding an excessive fine certainly justifies the effort, demerit points that may jeopardize your license and/or the financial strain of insurance premium hikes are often even more important considerations. Of course, if you feel that the speeding ticket was unwarranted and you’re innocent of speeding, that would also justify a stout defence.
However, when it comes to a speeding ticket issued by an automated speed enforcement camera—also known as a photo radar camera—you might not want to fight the ticket unless you know it’s totally wrong. Photo radar tickets do not appear on your driving record, convey no demerit points, and will not impact your insurance rates.
Fight Your Speeding Ticket with Mass Tsang’s Expertise
The traffic violation lawyers of Mass Tsang have helped 1,000s of Ontario motorists successfully dispute speeding tickets. To help beat a speeding ticket or other traffic violation in the Greater Toronto Area, contact us today for a free consultation.