Traffic infractions range from parking, running a stop sign, tailgating, and going over the speed limit to far more serious offences. Speeding happens to the best of drivers, and expensive speeding tickets eat into your budget.
However, there are situations where, while perhaps not totally innocent, drivers get a ticket they wish to contest. If this has ever happened to you, it’s no secret how overwhelming the situation can be. To help you prepare, this piece details everything you need to know to fight a speeding ticket.
Should You Fight Your Speeding Ticket?
The first thing to do when determining whether to fight a speeding ticket is to take an honest assessment of the situation. Ask yourself what your odds are of actually winning. Ultimately, if you believe that it is most likely that you are going to lose, it is better to avoid court and pay the ticket.
Consider What Evidence Is Against You
Did the ticketing officer document the incident thoroughly? Was the court date set quickly after the infraction? As the driver, are you responsible for committing the infraction? If you answer yes to these questions, then chances are it would be better to avoid court.
Be sure to also consider that, to fight the ticket, you will need to take a full day off work to attend court in person. Even if you attend, there is no guarantee of success. With this in mind, weigh the sunk cost of your time off work (and potential professional repercussions) against the value of contesting the matter.
How Do You Fight A Speeding Ticket?
If you decide to fight the matter, then the first step is to familiarize yourself with the process that lies ahead. Understanding the procedure ensures that you will follow the proper steps and are in a position to do everything within your power to fight the ticket.
While the process may vary from province to province, here are the general steps you can expect when fighting a speeding ticket.
When you are issued the ticket, you get the option of a court date. If you plan to contest the matter, then you need to show up, in person, at the courthouse. A window is given, and it is your onus to be at the location throughout.
This is to give personal testimony about the incident. The issuing officer can attend court to provide their account of the matter. If the officer is there to ensure that the ticket goes through, it becomes a matter of word of mouth, where more weight will be placed on the testimony of the officer. However, officers get busy and the individual who gave you the ticket may be unable to attend. If luck’s on your side in this regard, you are off to a good start.
Watch Out For Plea Deals
The true financial repercussion of a ticket is not the cost, but rather the increase in your insurance as a result of the fine. A plea deal means that you will incur the fine, though will only be responsible for paying a small portion of it. Though plea deals can sound appealing because of the reduced upfront cost, since the fine is still issued under your name, you are likely to see an increase in your insurance premiums.
So, if you are able to fight the ticket (like a speeding infraction taken by an unmanned radar), then be sure that you don’t get talked into taking a plea.
Ask For Disclosure
In order to fight the ticket, you need to have all the relevant information. When you learn of your court date, the first step is to file for the disclosure of information. All the documents, including the officer’s notes, will be submitted to you for review prior to the court date. In some cases, the notes are thorough and hard to contest. In other situations, the notes have apparent flaws that you can use to make your case.
Find Out The Type Of Speeding Equipment
Be sure to learn what type of equipment was used to determine the rate at which you were travelling. The technology used in a radar gun is different than that in a laser speed gun. Traffic cameras also rely on their own set of technology.
The quality and reliability of the equipment, both generally and specific to the device that flagged you, gives you a fighting chance at contesting the ticket. Radar guns are older tech that is more prone to errors. Resultantly, you are more likely to win a fight against these devices as opposed to the others.
When Is Your Court Date?
Due to the limitation dates set forth by Canadian legislation (procedural deadlines to ensure the smooth flow of our judicial system), if your court date falls more than a year after the infraction, you can file to get the ticket thrown out. As long as you don’t plead guilty and diligently follow the proper procedures to contest a ticket, you have a reasonable chance of winning.
Cost of Speeding in Canada
The cost associated with a traffic infraction depends on what offence you committed. More severe infractions, such as driving under the influence or speeding through a school zone, will have heavier penalties.
Conversely, less significant issues, such as going 10 km over the limit on a highway, will likely result in a simple ticket. Though the main punishment for speeding infractions is financial, there is a wide range of measures law enforcement can take if you speed. These include:
The most common repercussion of speeding is a ticket. The amount of the ticket will vary depending on where you were speeding and how fast you were going. Speeding through a construction zone, for example, triples the cost of the ticket.
Speeding tickets and other traffic infractions pose a risk to your driver’s profile. In some situations, you may be issued demerit points. These ultimately lead to more serious consequences.
If the incident is severe, or if you have a series of demerit points already on record, you are at risk of losing your license. Demerit points can be incurred for a wide range of reasons, not merely speeding. From failing to stop if flagged by a police officer to abandoning the scene of a collision, there are several ways for drivers to get their license suspended if they are not careful.
Increased Insurance Premiums
Suspension of your driver’s license is not the only risk associated with getting demerits on file. Demerit points remain on your record for a full two years. While demerits are not a metric directly associated with higher premiums, insurance companies take them into consideration when determining the cost of your plan. A driver with more demerits is a higher risk; and, therefore, will be expected to pay a higher amount.
What To Watch Out For When You Fight A Speeding Ticket?
It can be overwhelming to fight a speeding ticket, so it’s important to know potential pitfalls along the way so you can avoid them.
- Be careful about your plea. If you plead guilty to the charges, then the fine will go on your record. It is highly probable that, though a plea deal can result in a reduced fine, it will cause your insurance premiums to rise. Within a matter of months, you might find yourself out more money than you would have otherwise been.
- Be wary of services making promises. Some companies will promise to either lower your ticket penalty or make claims that they can get the matter thrown out. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. These companies usually just pursue a plea deal, and will likely charge you a fee for the service.
- Review any paperwork. Pay special attention to locations, speeds, dates, and times. From the rate of travel at the time of the ticket to when you are required to appear in court, it is essential that you keep track of the specifics surrounding the matter. In some cases, simply showing up at court makes a huge difference, so if you plan to fight the ticket, make sure you are punctual.
Worst Speeding Zones In Canada
Speeding can be a dangerous habit, so our provincial governments and their traffic authorities impose various fines to dissuade drivers from doing it.
Speeding tickets can cost as little as $30, but can go as high as $500 or more if you were speeding while high, inebriated or if you cause bodily harm or injury to another person.
Where Are The Worst Speed Traps In Canada?
Since speeding is common in Canada, there are places where it’s common to find traps, photo radars, and police officers stationed to catch drivers breaking the law. Here are some spots where you’re likely to get a speeding ticket in Ontario and British Columbia:
Trans-Canada Highway #417/17/11
- Highway 417: Montreal to Ottawa – This freeway runs through Quebec and Ontario and is a popular place for officers to be posted. They’re often parked in the wooded areas where service (a.k.a. “turnaround”) roads connect the east and west lanes of the highway. These roads are announced by “NO U-TURN” signs.
- Highway 11: Madison and Smooth Rock Falls – While these two towns are relatively small, be careful not to speed through them, as the local OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) will wait there to fill their quotas and those of other districts.
- Highway 400: Toronto – This highway’s speed limit quickly decreases from 100 KM/H to 80 KM/H when it turns into Black Creek Drive. OPP will frequently be stationed in the center of the highway dividers, south of the 401 overpass.
- Highway 69: Nobel – Just north of Parry Sound, most drivers move at 100 to 120 KM/H, when the speed limit is really 70 KM/H. So, if you come over the hill doing more than 70, you might get ticketed by an officer with a handheld radar gun.
- Highway 401: Kingston to Odessa – At Exit 599, there’s an overpass with big concrete support jutting from the median area. Police cruisers sometimes sit on the east side of that support, tagging cars headed eastbound with radar guns.
- Highway 401 Woodstock to Drumbo – Exit 250, just west of Drumbo (near the next overpass), is another common place for police units to post up in the median and tag speeders who don’t have a chance to slow down as they round a curve.
Speed Traps Around Ottawa
- Highway 417: St. Laurent – Driving west on this highway, you may see an officer on the right of a cement wall, between St. Laurent and 417/17 split, operating a permanently mounted laser radar. After the split, police motorcycles and cruisers also set up roadblocks on the 417 side, as well as the 17 at the Blair Road exit.
- Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (Ottawa River Parkway) – At the Parkdale exit, there’s a U-Turn lane through the median, surrounded by trees. RCMP cars are often posted there, waiting just past those trees for unsuspecting speeders.
Trans-Canada Highway 1 (Mainland, BC)
- Trans-Canada Hwy 1: Revelstoke to Western Rockies – This town only has 9,000 residents but many RCMP patrols set up radar and laser traps along the eastern and western routes of the highway. So, if you drive east or west, to or from Kamloops and Vancouver, watch out when leaving or entering Revelstoke.
- Trans-Canada Hwy 1: Langley – If you drive through the Langley municipality, you’ll hit a descending hill (a.k.a. “downgrade”) just over 3 kilometres past 264th Street. Get ready to slow down, since police frequently set up tripod-mounted lasers and radars there, especially during long weekends and tourist seasons.
How Many Demerit Points Do You Have?
In Canada, you start with 0 demerit points and gain points when you’re convicted of breaking various traffic laws. Here’s how the demerit points systems work in Canada’s most populated provinces:
In Ontario, when you get demerit points, they stay on your driver’s licence record for 2 years after your offence date. You can get demerit points on your driver’s license for breaking traffic laws in:
- All across Canada
- The State of New York or Michigan
Different levels of demerit points apply to new and established drivers, and the penalties go up the more offences you commit against the laws of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act. This is how many demerit points can be added to your driver’s license under those laws:
|Improper right or left turns
Driving without wearing a seatbelt
|Going over the speed limit by 16 to 29 KM/H
Failing to obey the directions of a police officer
|If you’re a bus driver and don’t stop at an unprotected railway crossing
|Going over the speed limit by 30 to 49 KM/H
Failing to stop at a pedestrian crossover
|If you’re a bus driver and don’t stop at a unprotected railway crossing
|Failing to stop for a school bus
Going over the speed limit by 30 to 49 KM/H
|Leaving the scene of a collision
Failing to stop when instructed by a police officer
Consequences for having demerit points as a new driver or established driver in Ontario:
- New Driver (G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L or M2-L license)
- 2 to 5 points = Warning letter
- 6 to 8 points = Second warning letter
- 9 or more points = Driver’s license suspended for 60 days
- Established Driver
- 6 to 8 points = Warning letter
- 9 to 14 points = Second warning letter
- 15 or more points = Driver’s license suspended for 30 days
In Quebec, the SAAQ sets the number of dermerit points you can accumulate before your license is revoked or suspended. The SAAQ basis the number on your age, license type (driver’s, learner’s, probationary), and whether you currently hold a license:
- 4-Point Bracket – When you receive 4 or more demerit points, you can have your license suspended or revoked. This applies to individuals who do not hold a license or have a learner’s or probationary license. This demerit point threshold also applies to those with a Class 6D or Class 8 license (for less than 5 years).
- 8-Point Bracket – Individuals under 23 with a driver’s license can be penalized in the same way if they receive 8 demerit points.
- 12-Point Bracket – Individuals aged 23 or 24 with a driver’s license can be penalized in the same way if they receive 12 demerit points.
- 15-Point Bracket – – Individuals aged 25 or older with a driver’s license can be penalized in the same way if they receive 15 demerit points.
In Alberta, you can get up to 15 demerit points before your license is suspended. However, if you take a Defensive Driving Course or Professional Drivers Improvement Course through an approved driver training school, you can lower the number of demerit points on your driving record.
You’ll need to complete one of these courses before the conviction date of the infraction in order to avoid a demerit suspension.
- Fully (Non-GDL) Licensed Drivers – If you finish a defensive driving course, you can reduce up to a maximum of 3 demerit points from your driving record. This can be done once per 2 years. This can only be done if you haven’t already received 15 demerit points.
- Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) – If you finish a defensive driving course, you can reduce up to a maximum of 3 demerit points from your driving record. This can be done once per 2 years. This can only be done if you haven’t already received 8 demerit points.
If a merit course gets incorrectly added or applied to your record. You may go back to the registry agent where you had the merit course applied and request their assistance.
There are many traffic offences you can commit to receive demerit points (or driver penalty points) on your BC driver’s record. Generally, the penalty is 3 points for speeding:
- In and outside a municipality
- In a school or playground zone
- Against a highway sign, area sign, or municipal sign
- On a municipal line
- At excessive speeds
In BC, you have to pay a driver penalty point (DPP) premium for car insurance. This is calculated based on the amount of driving offences on your record, then added to your car insurance. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) does this to discourage drivers from breaking traffic laws. It considers the number of points you’ve received over the past 12 months and, if you have more than 3 points, it adds a DPP premium to your insurance.
The best way to ensure a desirable outcome is to honestly assess whether it makes sense to contest the ticket. If, in good faith, believe that the ticket is wrongful and that there is a good chance of winning. Then fighting the ticket may be worthwhile. However, if you are unlikely to win or are probably going to spend more time fighting it than the ticket is worth. It may be better to avoid court. Every speeding ticket results from a unique situation, so there is no universally correct answer to defending yourself. Simply do your research, follow the administrative procedure to the letter, and drive carefully.
Fight Speeding Ticket FAQs
How many demerit points will you get for speeding in Ontario?
- 3 points for exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 KM/H
- 4 points for exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 KM/H
- 6 points for exceeding the speed limit by 50 KM/H or more
- 6 points for exceeding the speed limit by 40 KM/H or more on roads with a speed limit of less than 80 KM/H
How long does a speeding ticket stay on my driving record in Canada?
How do I find out how many points I have on my license?
- BC -You can request your driver’s abstract using an online ICBC application form.
- ON – You can order a certified or uncertified 3-year driver’s abstract in person or by mail through ServiceOntario. Alternatively, you can order your abstract online from the Ministry of Transportation website.
- QC – In Quebec, you can request your driver’s abstract instantly online using SAAQclic.