What are the consequences of getting a traffic ticket in Ontario? Odds are that you, or someone you know, has received a traffic ticket from the police. But what are the consequences of being convicted? Generally, most charges will result in court, licensing, and insurance penalties. Novice drivers and commercial motor vehicle drivers may also be subject to additional penalties. What do you need to be aware of and what can you do to protect yourself?
Let’s take a look!
What Laws Are Involved in Ontario Traffic Tickets?
The most common bodies of law that apply to Ontario traffic tickets are the Highway Traffic Act and the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, although recently charges have also begun to be issued under the Cannabis Control Act. Some of the most common charges issued under these bodies of law are:
Highway Traffic Act
- Careless Driving
- Follow Too Closely
- Drive with Handheld Communication Device
- Stunt Driving
- Red Light Fail to Stop
- Disobey Stop Sign
- Novice Driver Violation of Condition Charges
- Fail to Change Lane For Emergency Vehicle
- Driver Fail to Properly Wear Seat Belt
- Fail to Remain
- Fail to Surrender License
- Drive Under Suspension
Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act
- Owner Operate Motor Vehicle Without Insurance
- Permit Vehicle to Be Operated Without Insurance
- Fail to Surrender Insurance Card
Cannabis Control Act
- Operate Vehicle or Boat with Cannabis Readily Available
What Court Penalties Can Be Issued?
Just as the nature of charges issued by the police can range from very minor offences to very serious ones, so to can the range of court penalties vary in severity.
The most common court penalty issued is a fine. Some amount of money that is due to the court within a set period of time. Failing to pay that fine may result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Court fines are comprised of the fine issued by the court plus a victim fine surcharge as follows:
|Fine Range ($)||Surcharge ($)|
|Over 1000||25% of actual fine|
Court fines can range from small total-payable fines of $110 for minor offences like having a dirty or obscured license plate up to very serious fines. For example, a second offence of driving without insurance could result in a total-payable fine ranging between $12,500 and $62,500.
A regular ‘ticket’ will generally list both the ‘set’ and ‘total’ fines on the bottom-left corner of the document. However, more serious offences issued by way of a ‘summons’ will not list your court fine. These fines are determined at court and can be negotiated by your paralegal.
Driver’s License Suspension
There are two types of court suspensions that can be issued upon being convicted. The first type are discretionary suspensions. These are driver’s license suspensions that may or may not be applied by the court based upon the facts of the case. These suspensions can be negotiated by your paralegal to be reduced or avoided outright. For example, a Careless Driving offence (without bodily harm or death) carries a discretionary suspension of up to two years.
The other type of suspension is a mandatory suspension. These are suspensions that will be applied if you are convicted. The only way to avoid such a suspension is to have the offence either thrown out at court, or have it negotiated to an alternate offence that does not carry a mandatory suspension. For example, Drive Under Suspension carries a mandatory 6-month suspension of license if convicted.
A suspension of license can be especially problematic for individuals who are dependent upon their driver’s license. Professional truck drivers for example could face enormous financial loses if they are unable to work and could also face termination of their employment. It is important to know what penalties you are facing at court before making any legal decisions that could result in serious consequences.
The most serious penalty that the court can issue is imprisonment: taking away your personal freedom and imprisoning you for a period of time. That time could be ‘straight’ time where the duration is served all in one go. Alternately, the term of imprisonment could be broken up to be served intermittently such as being served on weekends to avoid interruption to responsibilities such as work. Examples of offences with potential imprisonment include Driving Under Suspension or Careless Driving (with bodily harm or death) that can carry up to 6 months and 2 years respectively.
Traffic Tickets and Demerit Points
The next general area of penalty for a traffic ticket conviction would be demerit points. When you are convicted at court, the court sends that record of conviction to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Along with a record of conviction being placed against your driving record, the MTO can apply anywhere from 0 to 7 demerit points. Drivers with a clean record have 0 demerit points. New demerit points are added and accumulate to result in possible consequences such as a warning letter, a mandatory interview with the MTO, or a mandatory suspension of your license.
An example of some common demerit point penalties are:
|Speeding +1 to +15||0|
|Speeding +16 to +29||3|
|Speeding +30 to +49||4|
|Speeding +50 or more||6|
|Stunt Driving / Racing||6|
|Red Light Fail to Stop||3|
|Disobey Stop Sign||3|
|Fail to Properly Wear Seat Belt||2|
|Fail to Remain||7|
A full list of demerit points can be found here.
Novice Drivers and Escalated Sanctions Penalties
Novice drivers (i.e. G1, G2, M1, M2) have a smaller pool of demerit points before facing a warning letter, mandatory MTO interview, or mandatory suspension of license compared to a regular driver. However, they are also subject to escalated sanctions penalties under specific circumstances. For example, these additional penalties could be triggered for a conviction of an offence carrying 4 or more demerit points or for a specific type of offence such as Drive With Handheld Communication Device.
The exact penalty applied under escalated sanctions penalties is determined as follows:
- 30-day license suspension for the first occurrence
- 90-day license suspension for the second occurrence
- License cancellation and a requirement to re-apply for a G1/M1 after the third occurrence. Any fees paid, credit received for time spent in the program or BDE credit would be forfeited when the license is cancelled. Please note that in the case of a hybrid driver, only the novice class license is cancelled on the third occasion, their full class license is maintained.
Truck Drivers and Traffic Tickets – CVOR Points
Commercial motor vehicle drivers (such as transport truck drivers), have to be especially careful. Not only do they face all of the normal penalties faced by regular drivers, but they also potentially face CVOR points. CVOR point penalties can range from 0 to 5 points. An example of some common CVOR point penalties are
|Speeding +1 to +10||2|
|Speeding +11 to +20||3|
|Speeding +21 or more||5|
|Stunt Driving / Racing||5|
|Red Light Fail to Stop||5|
|Disobey Stop Sign||3|
|Fail to Properly Wear Seat Belt||1|
|Fail to Remain||5|
Insurance Costs and Traffic Tickets
Insurance cost increases can readily exceed the fine issued by the court for the related conviction. Generally, the impact to insurance costs will be determined by how serious the offence your were convicted of was. if you have had multiple minor offences or a single serious offence, you may have your insurance policy cancelled and be forced to seek out very expensive ‘high risk’ insurance. If the cost of obtaining high-risk insurance is prohibitively expensive, you may be unable to legally driver for a period of time much longer than any potential license suspension issued by the court.
What Should You Do if You Get a Traffic Ticket?
The first and most important thing that should be done after getting a traffic ticket from the police, is to know what penalties you are facing. The police officer issuing you the ticket will generally not advise you of these penalties and in worst cases may even provide incorrect information. Outside of listing your court fine, a ‘ticket’ does not include any information about court, licensing, or insurance penalties. It is up to you to find out what the consequences of a conviction are before deciding what to do. An uninformed decision can negatively impact your life for years into the future.
Putting a licensed paralegal in the courtroom for you, ensures that you are making informed decisions and having your defence argued effectively. In fact, for the majority of cases that we handle our clients are never required to attend court. That is a huge relief to many defendants who are worried about having to appear and speak in court. A licensed and experienced paralegal knows the law and the court process and can best protect your interests in seeking to have the charges and penalties reduced or eliminated on your behalf.
Do You Need To Defend Yourself Against An Ontario Traffic Ticket?
If you need to defend your driving rights against an Ontario traffic ticket you should contact us as soon as possible. We have skill and experience in helping drivers just like you respond to a variety of traffic tickets and provide free, confidential consultations to empower you to fight your charges. We help drivers throughout Ontario including Cambridge, Georgetown, London, Windsor and from our home office in Kitchener. Contact us online or call us directly at 1.844.647.6869 or text us a copy of your ticket to 226-240-2480.