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Question: Failing To Stop For A School Bus

Question:  I was driving on Victoria rd in guelph to pick up my daughter from school. I swear school bus was I front of me and didn’t see it stopping. The school bus might of prepare to stop because I didn’t see any flashing red light when I passed. My ticket is $490 and no traffic points involved this time. Please give me advice with what to do. Police officer said I can either go to court or pay the ticket. Thanks

Response:  There are generally only few sections under the Highway Traffic Act that we anticipate seeing a school bus related charge occurring under.  The two most common ones, Highway Traffic Act sections 175(11) and 175(12), carry a 6 demerit point penalty.  The two other most common offences are where the defendant is charged as the owner, but notnecessarily the driver, of the vehicle under HTA section 175(19) or 175(20).  These two offence sections do not carry a demerit point penalty, but do result in a record of conviction.  A conviction for your vehicle failing to stop for a school bus can have a serious impact on your insurability and insurance cost.

The wording of the Highway Traffic Act for the two demerit point carrying offences is as follows:

Duty of drivers when school bus stopped

(11)  Every driver or street car operator, when meeting on a highway, other than a highway with a median strip, a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal-lights flashing, shall stop before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 175 (11).

Idem

(12)  Every driver or street car operator on a highway, when approaching from the rear a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal-lights flashing, shall stop at least twenty metres before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 175 (12).

For the two sections that result in a record of conviction, but no demerit points:

Certificate of offence – owner

(19)  A person who issues a certificate of offence or who prepares an information to be laid under the Provincial Offences Act for a contravention of subsection (11) shall, despite that Act and the regulations under that Act, specify this subsection, instead of subsection (11), as the provision that was contravened, if the defendant is being charged as the owner of the vehicle.  2004, c. 22, s. 5 (2).

Same

(20)  A person who issues a certificate of offence or who prepares an information to be laid under the Provincial Offences Act for a contravention of subsection (12) shall, despite that Act and the regulations under that Act, specify this subsection, instead of subsection (12), as the provision that was contravened, if the defendant is being charged as the owner of the vehicle.  2004, c. 22, s. 5 (2).”

The penatlies for a conviction depends on how the charge was issued.  If the charge was issued on a standard ticket, it will result in a record of conviction, a set fine, and either 0 or 6 demerit points depending on which sub section that you’ve been charged under.  If the offence was issued by way of summons, then the range of penalties become larger:

Penalty

(17)  Every person who contravenes subsection (11) or (12) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable,

(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000; and

(b) for each subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $4,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.  1997, c. 12, s. 14.

It is important to note that the court fines are subject to the 25% victim fine surcharge for total payable fines as follows:

  • First offence:  $500 to $2,500
  • Subsequent offence:  $1,250 to $5,000

A subsequent offence also opens up the possibility of imprisonment for a term not to exceed six months.

Given the nature and penalties involved in these charges, they are generally worth fighting at court.  In some cases there may be a legal defect in the Prosecutor’s case upon which the charge can be withdrawn outright.  Where appropriate, it may alternately be possible to negotiate the charge to a lesser offence to protect the driving record, insurance, demerit points, and fine.  The final stage of defence is to argue the matter before the court at trial to see if the offence can be dismissed.

It is certainly worthwhile to, at a minimum, seek out the basic information from a paralegal company that you will need to make an informed decision about how to best protect your interests.  OTD Legal provides a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation and can be reached either by email at info@otdlegal.ca or toll-free telephone at 1-844-647-6869.

Posted under Traffic Ticket Defence

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