Speeding tickets are likely the most common offence issued by the police in Ontario when it comes to the Highway Traffic Act. Whether up in the northern reaches of Ontario near Dryden or Timmins or to the south in Toronto or Windsor, our roadways are filled will drivers travelling over the posted speed limit on a daily basis. Some by a little. Some by a lot. Odds are that you too have also travelled over the speed limit at one time or another. The question you need to know is: what happens if I get caught?
Let’s find out!
WHAT DOES THE HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT SAY?
Speeding charges fall under section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). The full text of section 128 is very long and can be found here for those curious to read through it in full. The initial portion of this section defines speeding as follows:
“(1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at a rate of speed greater than,
(a) 50 kilometres per hour on a highway within a local municipality or within a built-up area;
(b) despite clause (a), 80 kilometres per hour on a highway, not within a built-up area, that is within a local municipality that had the status of a township on December 31, 2002 and, but for the enactment of the Municipal Act, 2001, would have had the status of a township on January 1, 2003, if the municipality is prescribed by regulation;
(c) 80 kilometres per hour on a highway designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council as a controlled-access highway under the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, whether or not the highway is within a local municipality or built-up area;
(d) the rate of speed prescribed for motor vehicles on a highway in accordance with subsection (2), (5), (6), (6.1) or (7);
(e) the maximum rate of speed set under subsection (10) and posted in a construction zone designated under subsection (8) or (8.1); or
(f) the maximum rate of speed posted on a highway or portion of a highway pursuant to section 128.0.1. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 17 (1); 2006, c. 11, Sched. B, s. 6 (2); 2006, c. 32, Sched. D, s. 4 (1).”
The main thrust of this section is simply to say, you can’t go over the posted speed limit and defines how speed limits will generally be set. However, municipalities are permitted under HTA s.128(2) to set bylaws to define speed limits for roadways under their jurisdiction:
“(2) The council of a municipality may, for motor vehicles driven on a highway or portion of a highway under its jurisdiction, by by-law prescribe a rate of speed different from the rate set out in subsection (1) that is not greater than 100 kilometres per hour and may prescribe different rates of speed for different times of day. 2006, c. 32, Sched. D, s. 4 (3).”
ARE THERE ANY EXEMPTIONS?
Generally, the posted speed limit is the speed limit. No exceptions. You are not permitted to go over that speed limit regardless of whether you are keeping with the flow of traffic, late to pickup your child from school, or are briefly speeding up to pass another vehicle. If you accelerate above the speed limit, you risk being stopped and charged by the police.
However, the Highway Traffic Act does include the following obvious exemptions under HTA s.128(13):
“Fire department vehicles and police vehicles
(13) The speed limits prescribed under this section or any regulation or by-law passed under this section do not apply to,
(a) a fire department vehicle while proceeding to a fire or responding to, but not returning from, a fire alarm or other emergency call;
(b) a police department vehicle being used in the lawful performance of a police officer’s duties; or
(c) an ambulance while responding to an emergency call or being used to transport a patient or injured person in an emergency situation. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 128 (13); 2009, c. 5, s. 40.”
Emergency vehicles are permitted a exemption to the speed limit while they are in the lawful performance of their duties. However, for your average Ontario driver in an emergency situation you can still be charged by the police for exceeding the speed limit. This leaves having to make a necessity argument at court to try and avoid a conviction and penalties…but that’s no guarantee of a legal victory.
There are two general ways that the police may charge you for speeding.
A ticket for speeding is generally issued for rates of speed that do not exceed more that 49 km/h over the posted speed limit. A ticket shows your basic information as your legal name, address, and driver’s licence number. The ticket also shows what offence you have been charged with, along with your set fine and total payable fine (this includes a $5.00 court cost and the victim fine surcharge). The ticket, however, does not show how many demerit points you will get or whether the ticket will result in your licence being suspended. For an accurate answer on those questions, you are best to ask one of our staff who will be happy to assist you.
A summons for speeding is much more serious and is generally issued where the rate of speed is 50 km/h or more over the posted speed limit. A summons includes all of the information included in a ticket, with the exception of how much the court fine is for the offence. In the case of a summons, the amount of the fine would be determined by the court. A summons means that you are also facing much more severe court penalties such as markedly higher fines and potential court-ordered licence suspension. Like a ticket, a summons does not indicated how many demerit points you are facing or whether or not a conviction will result in a suspension of your licence.
WHAT ARE THE FINES FOR SPEEDING?
Fines for a speeding conviction are determined by rate of speed. The dollar value per km/h over the speed limit increases for higher rates of speed. HTA section 128(14) defines these fines as follows:
“(14) Every person who contravenes this section or any by-law or regulation made under this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable, where the rate of speed at which the motor vehicle was driven,
(a) is less than 20 kilometres per hour over the speed limit, to a fine of $3 for each kilometre per hour that the motor vehicle was driven over the speed limit;
(b) is 20 kilometres per hour or more but less than 30 kilometres per hour over the speed limit, to a fine of $4.50 for each kilometre per hour that the motor vehicle was driven over the speed limit;
(c) is 30 kilometres per hour or more but less than 50 kilometres per hour over the speed limit, to a fine of $7 for each kilometre per hour that the motor vehicle was driven over the speed limit; and
(d) is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit, to a fine of $9.75 for each kilometre per hour that the motor vehicle was driven over the speed limit. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 17 (7).”
However, if the speeding offence occurred in a construction zone with construction workers present, the fines increase as follows:
“(14.1) Every person who contravenes this section in a construction zone designated under subsection (8) or (8.1) when there is a worker in the construction zone is liable on conviction, not to the fines set out in subsection (14), but, where the rate of speed at which the motor vehicle was driven,
(a) is less than 20 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit, to a fine of double the fine set out in clause (14) (a) for each kilometre per hour that the motor vehicle was driven over the speed limit;
(b) is 20 kilometres per hour or more but less than 30 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit, to a fine of double the fine set out in clause (14) (b) for each kilometre per hour that the motor vehicle was driven over the speed limit;
(c) is 30 kilometres per hour or more but less than 50 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit, to a fine of double the fine set out in clause (14) (c) for each kilometre per hour that the motor vehicle was driven over the speed limit; and
(d) is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the posted speed limit, to a fine of double the fine set out in clause (14) (d) for each kilometre per hour that the motor vehicle was driven over the speed limit. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 17 (8).”
CAN MY LICENCE BE SUSPENDED?
MTO responses to accumulated demerit points depend upon the specific class of driver’s licence held by the driver, but the progression of penalty generally follows this escalating pattern:
- Formal warning letter is issued
- A mandatory meeting at the MTO to review the driving history that may result in a driver’s licence suspension
- A mandatory suspension of driver’s licence without a review meeting
Yes. There are a number of ways in which a conviction for a speeding offence could lead to a licence suspension.
The first possibility would be a demerit point suspension. Demerit points are controlled by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. A fully licenced driver reaching 15 or more demerit points would receive a mandatory licence suspension or would be required to attend an MTO interview at 9 or more demerit points where they could be suspended. A novice driver would receive a mandatory licence suspension at 9 or more demerit points and an interview at 6 or more demerit points.
Demerit points for speeding offences are determined by how far you are over the posted speed limit:
km/h Over The Posted Speed Limit
+1 to +15
+16 to +29
+30 to +49
50+ or greater
Commercial motor vehicle drivers, such as professional truck drivers with a transport truck, accumulate CVOR points similar to how non-commercial motor vehicle drivers accumulate demerit points. However, CVOR point penalties escalate much quicker:
+1 to +10 km/h – 2 CVOR points
+11 to +20 km/h – 3 CVOR points
+21 km/h or greater – 5 CVOR points
To provide some context to the above numbers, a conviction for Careless Driving under HTA s.130 carries 5 CVOR points offence upon conviction. A transport truck driver traveling at 101 km/h in a posted 80 km/h zone is now at the same level of CVOR point penalty as a Careless Driving offence for having carelessly collided with another vehicle or rolled their truck off the highway. CVOR point penalties in this range can have a severe impact on becoming or remaining employable as a truck driver.
Escalated Sanctions for Novice Drivers
Novice drivers face an even greater risk of licence suspension due to escalated sanctions penalties. These are penalties applied to novice drivers only and do not apply to fully licenced drivers. One of the triggers for these penalties would be for any conviction of a single offence that carries 4 or greater demerit points. For speeding offences that would be for travelling 30 km/h or faster over the speed limit. Escalated sanctions penalties result in a mandatory 30 day or 90 day suspension of driver’s licence for a first or section offence respectively. A third offence results in the driver’s licence being revoked entirely.
The court can also directly issue a driver’s licence suspension for rates of speed 50 km/h or greater over the posted speed limit. The length of that suspension is determined by whether it is a first, second, or later offence in this range of speed:
“(15) Subject to subsection 207 (7), where a court has convicted a person for a contravention of this section and has determined that the person convicted was driving at a rate of speed of 50 or more kilometres per hour greater than the speed limit, the court may,
(a) suspend the driver’s licence of the person for a period of not more than 30 days;
(b) upon the first subsequent conviction where the court determined in respect of each conviction that the person was driving at a rate of speed of 50 or more kilometres per hour greater than the speed limit, suspend the driver’s licence of the person for a period of not more than 60 days;
(c) upon the second subsequent conviction or an additional subsequent conviction, where the court determined in respect of each conviction that the person was driving at a rate of speed of 50 or more kilometres per hour greater than the speed limit, suspend the driver’s licence of the person for a period of not more than one year. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 17 (9).”
WILL A SPEEDING CONVICTION IMPACT MY INSURANCE RATE?
Generally, yes. Your insurance broker is your most reliable source of information on the potential impact of a conviction. Generally they will consider the severity of the new offence along with your driving history in calculating their risk assessment and your insurance rate. If the risk assessment is high, your current insurance policy may be canceled and you will be required to seek out high risk insurance.
WHAT CAN I DO?
If you’ve been charged with Speeding by the police, the first important thing to do is know your rights and legal options as well as the consequences of a conviction. If you plead guilty to the offence by paying your ticket, you will be convicted and your legal options will become fewer and poorer should you later decide that you regret having entered a guilty plea. If you have been charged by the police, our friendly staff can provide you with a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to go through your case history and details with you. OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services can be reached via our toll-free number 1-866-821-8354, emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by text at 226-240-2480.