Speeding tickets are among the most common legal issues Canadian drivers face. From rushing to work to simply missing the signs indicating a reduced speed limit, it’s all too easy to get ticketed for driving faster than legally allowed. Even though this is common, it’s still a violation of traffic laws, so the penalties that come with a speeding ticket can be pretty severe. The fines alone can be quite expensive, but that’s not where your problems end when you’re busted for speeding. Demerit points and higher insurance premiums are also within the realm of possibility. Learn more about speeding ticket costs in Ontario and how you can avoid the hassle associated with a speeding charge.
Ontario Speeding Ticket Costs
Speeding ticket fines are a bit complex in Ontario, but on a high level, the cost of a speeding ticket correlates both to how fast you were going and where you were driving. The way you’re caught can also have an impact.
As described in the Highway Traffic Act, drivers in Ontario pay fines based on 5 categories:
- Speeding — Photo Radar
- Speeding — Community Safety Zone
- Speeding — Construction Zone
- Speeding — Construction Zone Worker Present
In each of these categories, fines are mostly assessed according to a set dollar amount per kilometer per hour (KPH) over the speed limit. In all categories, the lowest-penalty category is for drivers going 1–19 KPH over the speed limit, though the dollar amount associated with the fine varies by category. The lowest-cost penalty is $2.50 per kilometer over and it applies to the Speeding, Speeding—Photo Radar and Speeding—Construction Zone categories. 1–19 KPH over charges in the Speeding—Community Safety Zone and Speeding—Construction Zone Worker Present categories are both $5.00. So, if you’re caught driving 15 over in a Community Safety Zone, your fine will be $75.
Penalties go up from there, with the highest flat penalty range being 30–49 KPH over in most categories. The fee is $6.00 per kilometer on the low end and $12.00 per kilometer on the high end. Using the example above, if you’re caught going 40 over in a Community Safety Zone, your fine will be $480.
Because fee schedules can vary so widely based on where you are and how fast you’re going when you’re caught (and how you’re caught), it’s impossible to give a set answer to how much a speeding ticket costs in Ontario. But the courts do make fee schedules available online, so you should be able to determine whether your fine is fair according to the law.
Don’t be surprised, though, if the total amount you owe is higher than what your math shows based on your charge. Tickets include not only the fine amount but also associated fees, which include court costs and the Ontario victim fine surcharge. This means your total payable is likely to be quite high, especially if you’re going very fast where you really shouldn’t be.
Insurance: Why You Shouldn’t Just Pay the Fine
If you’re lucky enough, the fine you incur as a result of your speeding ticket may actually be affordable, even with all the extra costs factored in. So, why not just pay it? One simple answer: insurance.
When you pay the fine associated with a speeding ticket in Ontario, the court takes that payment as an admission of guilt resulting in an automatic conviction. That means that you are essentially admitting fault by doing what seems like the right thing—just paying the fine without arguing. From a certain perspective, it’s hard to see what’s wrong with that. Admitting guilt can be morally or ethically valuable in many circumstances. However, this formal admission of guilt brings a legal conviction with it, and that has wide-ranging consequences for drivers.
First, depending on how fast you were going, you may get some demerit points on your license. In Ontario, demerit points last for two years and can have a negative impact on your life in several ways, particularly if you get enough of them. Demerits can come with additional fees and may result in license suspension. Plus, if driving is part of your job, this isn’t something you want on your driving record.
In addition to this, though, and perhaps most important, auto insurance companies do not look kindly on this kind of traffic violation. Speeding is dangerous and it’s proof to an insurance company that you’re a risk. Insurance companies aren’t charitable enterprises, remember—they’re always trying to protect their bottom line. So, if you set of red flags indicating you’re likely to cost them money, your insurance company will raise your rates. You don’t even need to go fast enough to earn demerits. Any conviction will go on your driving record and your insurance company regularly checks on this information to set your rates.
Investing in Legal Services
In theory, you can fight the traffic ticket yourself in court, but that isn’t likely to get you very far unless you really can prove that you weren’t speeding. However, with an experienced lawyer on your side, you don’t really need to worry about that. Lawyers with traffic violation experience know what to say and do in a courtroom have charges reduced, changed or thrown out entirely.
This means spending money on a lawyer and that’s part of the reason some people figure they should just pay the fine and get it over with. However, given the total cost not only of the fine and associated fees but the raise in car insurance rates and potential impact on your career, lawyer’s fees are small change. Plus, if you work with an experienced attorney, your legal fees may be the only cost associated with the ticket. Your results may depend on the nature of the charge, your driving record and other factors, but you could end up with no charge, no fine, no conviction and no impact on your monthly car insurance bill. That’s worth a small up-front investment in professional legal services.