In Ontario, driving behaviour is regulated by the Highway Traffic Act. Specifically, the rate of speed at which a vehicle travels is detailed in section 128 of this act. When a driver is convicted of speeding in Ontario, there are generally a number of possible penalties that will occur: a record of conviction, fine, demerit points, increased insurance, and possibly licence suspension or imprisonment.
Ontario driver’s having their driving history monitored by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). Any convictions for driving related offences are recorded and stored by the MTO. This driving record may be required as part of a job application to a company that requires driving within the scope of its duties. Insurance companies will look at this record in determining risk assessment and insurance rates. This driving record may also be viewed by a court Prosecutor when deciding whether to proceed to trial or resolve a case without trial. While most public parties will generally only see your three year driver’s abstract, the court will generally see your entire driving history. Protecting your driving record is critical in protecting your life-long personal interests, just as most people would aggressively protect their criminal record in guarding against repercussions against their employability or personal freedoms.
Fines for speeding are directly tied to how many km/h over the posted speed limit a driver is convicted of driving. The greater the degree of speeding, the higher the fine. Small convictions for speeding may carry a fine under a hundred dollars, but these fines can also escalate rapidly into the hundreds of dollars and even the thousands of dollars. For extreme cases of speeding where the driver is charged under section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act for Stunt Driving (alternately known as Race Motor Vehicle), the total-payable (fine plus the 25% victim fine surcharge) begins at $2,500.00 and reaches a maximum of $12,500.00. Community Safety Zones, such as schools or construction zones where workers are present, can result in a fine for speeding being doubled by the court.
Demerit points are a metric used by the MTO in assigning penalties against drivers with chronic bad driving habits. A driver starts out with zero demerit points and gains them additively when convicted of offences which carry demerit points. Demerit points are added together within two years of each other from their original offence date (as compared to their conviction date). Demerit point penalties under the Highway Traffic Act range from 0 demerits for the most minor offences, up to a maximum of 7 demerit points for the most serious offences. For speeding convictions in Ontario, demerit points follow this schedule:
- 1 to 15 km/h over the posted speed limit: 0 demerit points
- 16 to 29 km/h over the posted speed limit: 3 demerit points
- 30 to 49 km/h over the posted speed limit: 4 demerit points
- 50 km/h or greater over the posted speed limit: 6 demerit points
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
Insurance rate increases are often the immediately overlooked consequence by most drivers who have been issued a ticket or summons for speeding. The fear of having to pay a large fine to the court in the short term, may cause a defendant to overlook the larger, long-term consequence of the impact to their automobile insurance rate which can be quick significantly larger than the fine paid to the court. Driving convictions are visible for a three year period on a driver’s abstract and can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars of increased insurance cost. When convicted of an especially serious offence, or when convicted of many smaller offences, an insurance company may no longer be able to insure the driver under a regular insurance policy forcing the driver to seek out costly ‘high risk’ insurance coverage.
A driver’s licence suspension for speeding can happen due to a number of causes. The most obvious is the accumulation of demerit points resulting in a suspension by the MTO. However, drivers who are classed as a Novice Driver (such as a G1 or G2 class drivers) are automatically suspended upon conviction of an offence that carries 4 or more demerit points. A conviction for speeding (as per HTA s.128) for a rate of speed 50 km/h or greater over the posted speed limit can result in up to a 30 day licence suspension. A conviction for speeding under HTA s.172 for Stunt Driving can result in up to a 2 year licence suspension for a first offence, and up to a 10 year licence suspension for a second or later offence. Even the allegation of having contradicted HTA s.172 can result in an immediate roadside suspension despite never having had your defence heard at court to determine your innocence or guilt.
The very worst case scenario that can occur for traveling at a high rate of speed is jail. High rates of speed that have been charged as Stunt Driving are viewed as very serious offences and accordingly have the most severe range of penalties. A conviction under this section of the HTA can result in a period of imprisonment up to six months.
In reviewing the consequences of a speeding conviction it is readily apparent that it is important to protect your interests should you find yourself in the unfortunateposition of having been stopped and charged by the police. What might seem like a minor first offence, may become very important if compounded by a second or later offence. OTD Legal offers a free initial consultation to review a ticket or summons and provide you with basic information about the offence and the court process. If you have been issued a ticket or a summons for Speeding or Stunt Driving, our staff are happy to assist you via our toll-free number at 1-844-647-6869, via email firstname.lastname@example.org, through our website, or at any of our offices in person.