How to Fight a Speeding Ticket in Court and Win in Ontario

Contesting a speeding ticket in Ontario can be a daunting process given the absolute liability nature of speeding offences. However, understanding the legal framework and potential defences can significantly enhance your chances of a favorable outcome.


Absolute Liability in Speeding offences

The concept of absolute liability is an important factor to understand when contesting a speeding ticket. Stemming from the case of R v. Sault Ste. Marie, legal classifications such as absolute liability, strict liability, and Mens Rea offences dictate the available defences in court. Speeding, classified as an absolute liability offence, presents limited defence opportunities, focusing on the act of speeding itself rather than the driver’s intent or awareness.


Defences Under Absolute Liability

While the defences for speeding tickets are narrowly defined, there are a couple that are recognized by Ontario courts:

  • Duress: An example of duress could involve being coerced to speed under threat, such as a passenger threatening harm unless you accelerate. This defence, while extreme, illustrates the type of situation that might lead to a dismissal.
  • Impersonation: Cases where identity confusion occurs, such as friends or siblings using each other’s identification, can also serve as a viable defence, potentially leading to case dismissal if proven.


Common Misconceptions

Many drivers believe certain circumstances should logically exempt them from penalties, such as malfunctioning speedometers or medical emergencies. However, under the principle of absolute liability, these reasons do not constitute a valid defence. The law focuses strictly on the act of speeding, regardless of the driver’s knowledge or intentions.


Strategies for Fighting Speeding Tickets

Despite the stringent nature of absolute liability, all is not lost for those seeking to contest a speeding ticket. Here are strategies that may improve your chances:

  • Legal Representation: Consulting with a legal professional experienced in traffic law, such as OTD Legal, can provide important insights and strategies tailored to your specific case.
  • Evidence and Documentation: Gathering comprehensive evidence, including dashcam footage or mechanical and maintenance records, can support your case, even within the narrow scope of acceptable defences.
  • Negotiation and Reduction: In some cases, legal experts can negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charges or penalties, even if a complete dismissal isn’t possible.


Why Choose OTD Legal

At OTD Legal, we’re decades of experience in fighting speeding tickets. We have a long and healthy track record of success in achieving dismissals, reductions, and more favorable outcomes. 


Seeking Assistance?

If you’re facing a speeding ticket in Ontario and are concerned about the impact on your driving record and insurance rates, reach out to OTD Legal. Our team is ready to provide you with a comprehensive free evaluation of your case, exploring every avenue to defend your rights effectively. Contact us for a free consultation. 


Video Transcription:

How to fight a speeding ticket in court and win. This is an exciting question for me. What I would first like to discuss is that speeding tickets in Ontario are under section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act. However, it’s also important to note one other facet about speeding tickets in Ontario. You may have heard, you may not have heard that speeding in Ontario is considered absolute liability.

That phraseology, legal phraseology, comes from a specific case. And it’s R v. Sue St. Marie. It is a case that any lawyer, any new paralegal would be exposed to. And what that case does is defines different charges across Ontario as either being absolute liability, strict liability, or mens rea offences. The difference is significant.

For example, an absolute liability offense, which a speeding ticket is, really limits the defenses that are available to you when you are at trial. To be very specific, there are really only two formal defenses available to you at trial. And the best one to be described is, there’s one called duress. A typical example of something like that would be someone maybe even your mother-in-law, sitting beside you and sticking a gun in your ribs and forcing you to speed.

If that were happening, that would certainly be considered by any court and in many ways I think we could predict that in a situation like that that case would be dismissed. Another example, and I’ve had many of these, where two close friends or brothers have used each other’s identification. So impersonation is that type of a defense.

And at trial, I think one could reasonably inspect expect that, in fact, that would be dismissed as well. The Defenses that are not considered and also common when I speak to clients are well, you know, I’ve been driving and my speedometer broke and logically or intuitively most people when you’re sitting around with your friends or family and if you were to tell them that you would think logically that should be considered and there ought to be a dismissal of the case for that reason.

And because of the nature of absolute liability, it doesn’t formulate a defence, so the fact that you were speeding and you had no awareness to it is not, in fact, a defense to the charge and unfortunately, there would be a conviction. I guess the next most common defense that I hear from clients is they weren’t feeling well and they were ill or they were in what they would consider an emergency situation where they needed to get to the bathroom as quickly as they can. And again, that isn’t a defense that would be considered and if that defense was placed before the court, the court really under an absolute liability regime has an obligation to convict. So essentially what I’ve told you is there are very limited routes on how to defend someone on a speeding ticket. That doesn’t at all intimidate OTD Legal. We have been historically very successful in representing people on these matters, getting dismissals, reductions, and improving the penalty and what may happen on a conviction. But the reality is the law on speeding is quite complicated, and essentially it is derived exclusively from the R versus Sault Ste. Marie case, a case common to all paralegals and lawyers in the province.

by | Dec 29, 2023

Ron Harper

Ron Harper

Ron Harper, owner of OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services, is a former Ontario Prosecutor and Licensed Paralegal with over 40 years of experience in traffic offences.

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