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FAILING TO WEAR A SEATBELT TICKET

Ontario seat belt tickets can have a costly impact if allowed to go to conviction. Seat belt law can apply to the driver of the vehicle or a passenger, to an adult or a youth, as well as to a regular driver or a commercial motor vehicle driver. A conviction can result in a court fine, demerit points, CVOR points, and impact your insurance costs.
WHAT TYPES OF SEAT BELT CHARGES ARE THERE?

The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) deals with seat belt offences under section 106. There are seven main areas of seat belt law:

HTA Section Offence Wording
106(1) Drive with Seat Belt Inoperative
106(2) Driver – Fail to Properly Wear Seat Belt
106(3)(a) Passenger – Fail to Occupy Position with Seat Belt
106(3)(b) Passenger – Fail to Properly Wear Seat Belt
106(4)(a)(i) Drive While Passenger Under 16 Fails to Occupy Position with Seat Belt
106(4)(a)(ii) Drive While Passenger Under 16 Fails to Properly Wear Seat Belt
106(4)(b) Drive While Child Passenger Not Properly Secured
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LEGALLY WEAR A SEAT BELT?

The proper, legal use of a seat belt is defined under section 106(5) Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act as follows:

A seat belt assembly shall be worn so that,

  1. the pelvic restraint is worn firmly against the body and across the hips;
  2. the torso restraint, if there is one, is worn closely against the body and over the shoulder and across the chest;
  3. the pelvic restraint, and the torso restraint, if there is one, are securely fastened; and
  4. no more than one person is wearing the seat belt assembly at any one time. 2006, c. 25, s. 1.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A SEAT BELT TICKET?

Generally, a conviction will result in three types of penalties: court penalties, licence penalties, and insurance costs.

When the court convicts a defendant and issues a fine, there are two components to that fine. The first is the fine prescribed by law for the specific offence, which in the case of seat belt tickets is a set fine of $200. On top of the set fine is a $5 court cost and the victim fine surcharge, which in these cases would be $35.00. This results in a total payable fine of $240.00:

Set Fine Court Cost VFS Total Fine
$200.00 $5.00 $35.00 $240.00

In very exceptional cases, a seat belt conviction can exceed the $200.00 set fine and go up to a maximum of a $1,000.00 court fine for a total payable fine of $1,250.00.

For licencing penalties, regular drivers can face a demerit point penalty and commercial motor vehicle drivers (such as transport truck drivers) can also face a CVOR penalty as follows:

HTA Section Demerit Points CVOR POINTS
106(1) 0 1
106(2) 2 1
106(3)(a) 0 0
106(3)(b) 0 0
106(4)(a)(i) 2 1
106(4)(a)(ii) 2 1
106(4)(b) 2 1

It is important to note that even when an offence carries no demerit point penalty, it will still show as a record of conviction on your driving record. Third parties such as an employer or insurance company will generally see convictions for 3 years from their conviction dates. Often times the additional insurance costs of a conviction can quickly exceed the original fine issued by the court. Your insurance broker can help assist you in understanding the long-term costs due to an increase in your risk assessment and insurance rate.

ARE THERE ANY EXEMPTIONS TO WEARING A SEAT BELT IN ONTARIO?

Yes. There are some exemptions to Ontario’s legal requirement to wear a seat belt. However, these exemptions may need to be carefully argued at trial if you have already been charged by the police.

Subsections (2) and (3) do not apply to a person:

  • who is driving a motor vehicle in reverse
  • who holds a certificate signed by a legally qualified medical practitioner certifying that the person is: (a) for the period stated in the certificate, unable for medical reasons to wear a seat belt assembly, or, (b) because of the person’s size, build or other physical characteristic, unable to wear a seat belt assembly; or
  • who is actually engaged in work which requires him or her to alight from and re-enter the motor vehicle at frequent intervals and the motor vehicle does not travel at a speed exceeding 40 km/h.

Subsection (4)(a) does not apply if the passenger holds a certificate signed by a legally qualified medical practitioner certifying that the passenger is:

  • for the period stated in the certificate, unable for medical reasons to wear a seat belt assembly; or
  • because of the person’s size, build or other physical characteristic, unable to wear a seat belt assembly.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M CHARGED BY THE POLICE?

If you are charged by the police with a seat belt related offence, contact OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services as soon as possible. Our friendly staff can assist you with a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to go through your case history and details with you. A few minutes on the phone can help avoid or mitigate the consequences of an unnecessary conviction. Our office can be contacted via the toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at info@otdlegal.ca, or by text at 226-240-2480. You can also make an online consultation request any time of day or night, and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to assist you.