Every day in Ontario people are charged with having either failed to stop for a stop sign or a red light. Maybe the road conditions were slippery and you couldn’t stop in time, or perhaps you were distracted and completely missed seeing the sign or signal. What penalties are you facing and what can you do?
Let’s take a look!
AMBER LIGHT / RED LIGHT FAIL TO STOP
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The most common lane light offence that we generally see is RED LIGHT FAIL TO STOP under Highway Traffic Act (HTA) section 144(18):
(18) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular red indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle and shall not proceed until a green indication is shown. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (18).
Then next most common lane light offence would be AMBER LIGHT FAIL TO STOP under HTA section 144(15):
(15) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular amber indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely, otherwise he or she may proceed with caution. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (15).
Both amber light and red light offences carry 3 demerit points if convicted. Whereas the red light offence requires drivers to fully stop for a red light, the amber light offence requires drivers to stop only if safe to do so.
On very rare occasions, a driver may be charged with DISOBEY LANE LIGHT under HTA section 144(10):
(10) Every driver shall obey every traffic control signal that applies to the lane that he or she is in and, for greater certainty, where both a traffic control signal that is not a bicycle traffic control signal and a bicycle traffic control signal apply to the same lane,
(a) a person riding or operating a bicycle in that lane shall obey the bicycle traffic control signal; and
(b) a person driving a vehicle other than a bicycle in that lane shall obey the traffic control signal that is not a bicycle traffic control signal. 2015, c. 14, s. 40 (1).
This offence carries 0 demerit points, but would still be a record of conviction on the driving history and for insurance purposes. However, commercial motor vehicle drivers (such as those that drive a transport truck) will face a hefty 5 CVOR point penalty upon conviction for any of the above offences.
DISOBEY STOP SIGN
The other common offence related to not stopping at an intersection would be DISOBEY STOP SIGN contrary to HTA section 136(1)(a):
136 (1) Every driver or street car operator approaching a stop sign at an intersection,
(a) shall stop his or her vehicle or street car at a marked stop line or, if none, then immediately before entering the nearest crosswalk or, if none, then immediately before entering the intersection;
Disobeying a stop sign would incur 3 demerit points upon conviction. Commercial motor vehicle drivers would also receive a 3 CVOR point conviction.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Stop light and sign offences can be fought at court. Whether the matter is a serious collision involving an injury or fatality, or a simple case of not stopping at the correct location, you have the right to provide your defence at court. The three areas of concern that need to be addressed are court penalties, licencing, and insurance.
The first step is to have the matter filed for a court date. Once a court date has been set, you or your legal representative can file for a disclosure of evidence and then meet with the Prosecutor in advance of trial to review that evidence. The first line of defence is to see if any legal argument is present to have the charge simply withdrawn. If the charge can not be withdrawn, the next step in the defence process is to determine whether an acceptable lesser offence can be negotiated or if the case will need to be argued at trial.
Some defendants attempt to proceed in this process as self-represented. Doing so can incur significant time commitments and may result in serious legal missteps due to a lack of familiarity with the law and the court process. Hiring a paralegal generally means that they can take care of most, if not all, legal work and court appearances on your behalf. They know the law and the court process as well as the relevant court staff, police, and Prosecutor. This provides a significant advantage in seeking your best possible resolution at court.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
The first step is to contact a paralegal company. Research the company online to see how previous clients have reviewed their services. Most companies, such as OTD Legal Services, will review your case history and details at no cost to provide you with basic information and a beginning-to-end quote for legal services. Based on that information you can then make an informed decision on how you wish to proceed. If you have been charged by the police, our friendly staff will be happy to assist you via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.