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How To Fight Unsafe Lane Change Ticket
An unsafe lane change ticket is issued to drivers who fail to signal their intention to change lanes. This ticket can be issued by a police officer if:
- The driving behaviour is observed by a police officer/motorist, or
- There is a car accident while a driver is making a lane change
Unsafe lane change charges, issued under a few different sections of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, include the following penalties:
- Demerit points
- Insurance rate increases
- Conviction for a moving violation on your driving record
If a driver is issued a ticket for an unsafe lane change or improper lane change and is found guilty or if the driver pays the ticket, the Ministry of Transportation issues demerit points. The number of points depends on the section of the Highway Traffic Act that the unsafe lane change ticket was issued under. Under section 142 (1), a driver will receive 2 demerit points. Under section 154 (1), a driver will receive 3 demerit points. Demerit points stay on your driving record for 2 years from the date of the incident.
Insurance rate increases
If a driver is found guilty of an unsafe lane change ticket, their insurance rates will likely increase. If the incident involved a motor vehicle accident as well as a ticket for an unsafe lane change, a driver’s insurance rates could double or triple. If a driver is already facing high insurance rates for previous tickets or accidents, one additional incident could mean the insurance company drops the driver altogether, leaving the driver scrambling to find a new insurance provider at much higher insurance rates.
Conviction on your driving record
Any time a driver pays a ticket or is found guilty of an offence, the court reports the conviction to the Ministry of Transportation and a conviction is entered on the driver’s driving record. A conviction could result in a driver being excluded from employment opportunities. Novice/new and professional drivers are especially vulnerable to the consequences of having a conviction for a moving violation on their driving record.
The fine for making an unsafe lane change is $85.00 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $25.00. The total payable, or out-of-court settlement is $110.00. An unsafe lane change charge issued on a summons has a fine range of up to $1,000.00.
What sections of the Highway Traffic Act address unsafe lane changes?
There are two sections of the Highway Traffic Act that address unsafe lane change charges: section 142 (1) and section 154 (1). The wording on your ticket will be different for each charge. A ticket issued under section 142 (1) will likely read, “Change Lane – Not in Safety”. A ticket issued under section 154 (1) will likely read, “Unsafe Move – Lane or Shoulder”. The legislation reads as follows:
Signal for left or right turn
142 (1) The driver or operator of a vehicle upon a highway before turning to the left or right at any intersection or into a private road or driveway or from one lane for traffic to another lane for traffic or to leave the roadway shall first see that the movement can be made in safety, and if the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by the movement shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to make the movement. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (1).
Where highway divided into lanes
154 (1) Where a highway has been divided into clearly marked lanes for traffic,
(a) a vehicle shall not be driven from one lane to another lane or to the shoulder or from the shoulder to a lane unless the driver first ascertains that it can be done safely;
(b) in the case of a highway that is divided into three lanes, a vehicle shall not be driven in the centre lane except when overtaking and passing another vehicle where the roadway is clearly visible and the centre lane is clear of traffic within a reasonable safe distance, or in preparation for a left turn, or where the centre lane is at the time designated for the use of traffic moving in the direction in which the vehicle is proceeding and official signs are erected to indicate the designation;
(c) any lane may be designated for slowly moving traffic, traffic moving in a particular direction or classes or types of vehicles and, despite section 141, where a lane is so designated and official signs indicating the designation are erected, every driver shall obey the instructions on the official signs. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 154 (1); 2015, c. 14, s. 45.
In some cases, a driver may find themselves charged with Careless Driving under section 130 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act. Even though the driver’s actions may have fit an unsafe lane change charge, an officer can use their discretion to issue a charge under the section they deem most appropriate. Careless Driving has more serious consequences than the charges above, including 6 demerit points, a minimum $400.00 fine, a possible license suspension, serious insurance implications and even possible imprisonment. Section 130 (1) of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act reads as follows:
130 (1) Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.
(2) On conviction under subsection (1), a person is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.
How to fight unsafe lane change ticket
Unsafe lane change charges are considered strict liability charges, which means you may have a defence available to you. There are several elements that must be proven in court for the judge to find you guilty of the offence. If even one of those elements is not present, an argument can be made ahead of a Trial date to have the charge against you withdrawn. When defending an unsafe lane change ticket, it is always in your best interest to take the appropriate steps to ensure you are successful in court. An experienced legal representative will take the following steps on your behalf:
- Review your ticket and determine how the incident occurred
- Explain what options are available to you
- Take the appropriate steps to challenge the ticket
- Obtain and review the evidence to find weaknesses or omissions
- Meet with the Prosecutor to discuss the case
- Attend all court appearances on your behalf
- Conduct a trial, if necessary
It would be hard to find a more experienced team of legal representatives than the team at OTD Legal Services. We offer free consultations, which include a free quote, to ensure you make the best decisions right from the start.
Contact OTD Legal for a free consultation and quote
If you have been charged with an Unsafe Lane Change in Ontario, contact our office for a free, confidential consultation. You can complete an online request here, call us toll-free at 1-844-647-6869, or text a picture of your ticket to 226-240-2480. You don’t have to navigate the legal system alone! We are available to help drivers all over Ontario, including Kitchener, Cambridge, London, Georgetown, Blind River, Leamington, and Windsor.