Speeding Tickets: the Basics

Speeding is the most common type of traffic offence – who among us hasn’t pushed the car just a little faster than it’s suppose to go? However, though speeding may be a common offence, having a speeding conviction can be detrimental to your driving record.

With speeding, the penalties get progressively more severe depending on how much you were allegedly (or actually) speeding. Here’s the breakdown of speeding demerit points:

  1. Speeding 15 km/hr or less – no demerit points
  2. Speeding between 16 and 29 km/hr – three demerit points
  3. Speeding between 30 and 49 km/hr – four demerit points
  4. Speeding 50 km/hr or more is likely to result in a charge of street racing. You can learn more about that here.

As always, given these penalties, and especially the demerit points associated with them, fighting your speeding ticket is best. Once you do decide to fight the ticket, however, you face the option of going to trial or settling it with the prosecutor so you are convicted of some lesser charge. Below are some considerations to weigh in exploring your options.

Every traffic offence case has its own factors that must be weighed when an individual is considering disputing a charge at trial (as opposed to reaching a settlement with the prosecutor). Though the below can’t, of course, provide comprehensive coverage relevant to each particular situation, it is a collection of factors I look at when I consider whether it is in the best interests of my client to go to trial in his or her speeding ticket.

  1. Speeding is an absolute liability offence. This means that it does not matter why you were speeding, whether it was to get someone to the hospital or to avoid being late for an appointment of monumental importance. If it is proven that you were speeding, you will be convicted. So, the reasons for your excessive speed, however important they may have been, are not a defence in court.
  2. The police officer has no obligation to show you the radar output, even if you ask. So while it may be polite to show you the reading, failing to do so is not a violation of your rights and will not stand as a defence in court.
  3. There are several defences available to someone charged with speeding in Ontario. A common one, for example, is that the officer did not ensure or check that the radar equipment was properly functioning or maintained. Before these defences can be evaluated, you or your representative must be sure to carefully consider the disclosure (police officer’s notes) in the matter, to see whether everything was, indeed, done properly. The police is obligated to provide this disclosure upon request through the prosecutor’s office to the defendant or his/her representative in advance of the trial.
  4. Finally, you must carefully weigh the risk of going to trial versus negotiating some other deal. While an outcome of a settlement is certain, a trial always carries some risk. If a trial is lost, you will face a conviction of speeding as you were charged, complete with the demerit points, fine and record associated with the offence. If you were not speeding and do intend to go for trial, it is best to have the chance of success at trial professionally assessed and consider whether the risk of losing it and being convicted of speeding is acceptable to you.

Deciding whether or not to go for trial in a speeding ticket is always up to you, but if you are considering going for trial, be sure that you or your representative has carefully assessed the above factors, as well as your particular circumstances.

Sylvie, Toronto

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