If you’ve been pulled over for speeding in Ontario (by speed camera or speed detector), there are a few things you absolutely must do. Don’t make mistakes when you’re caught speeding. Stay calm, don’t argue with the police officer, call a lawyer, and defend yourself against the speeding offence to avoid major issues in the future.
Cooperate With the Officer
The worst thing any driver can do when pulled over to the side of the road for a speeding offence is to talk back to the police officer and behave in a disrespectful manner. The officer is in a position to make a decision about how to treat you, and whether that’s fair or not, it’s important to act in your own best interest when you’re caught speeding. Sometimes, officers may give you a verbal or written warning instead of an actual ticket, but this is most likely not going to happen if you’re rude and combative. In fact, if you treat the officer with disrespect, they may decide to write you up on other charges adding to the penalty points and more fines on top of the basic speeding fine.
So, when you’re caught speeding, pull over in a safe place, give the officer the information they ask for and if you can’t be polite, then be quiet. Very few people would volunteer to be pulled over for speeding, so it’s not a social interaction that’s expected to be pleasant. But you can do yourself some favors by trying to be as easy to work with as possible. If your driving record is clean and you weren’t going very fast, you could end up driving away with no ticket at all.
Inspect Your Ticket
In most cases, though, you’ll get ticketed with a formal citation if you’re caught speeding in Ontario. Your ticket should include information that lets you know what you’re accused of doing and what the potential consequences are, including fines. The total amount of money owed will likely include both the fine and some fees for court processing and a victim fine surcharge, which is a standard fee applied to all tickets in Ontario.
Make sure the information on the ticket is correct according to your understanding of what happened—your honest understanding. If the officer caught you driving 60 KPH over the speed limit, you probably aren’t going to be able to reasonably argue that you weren’t speeding at all unless you can somehow prove that the officer’s equipment wasn’t working properly. But if you were going 30 over, you and the officer discussed the fact that you were going 30 over and the ticket reads 60, you could have a reasonable point of argument.
Don’t Pay the Fine...Yet
We aren’t advocating that you ignore your ticket. That’s the last thing you should do. But paying the fine without taking any other action can be a grave mistake. In Ontario, paying a speeding ticket fine is equivalent to pleading guilty. You’re admitting that you committed a crime and it becomes part of your driving record. Demerits and other penalties will officially apply immediately after you’ve “pled guilty” by default and your insurance premiums may go up as a result of you having a guilty conviction for a traffic offence.
Paying the fine is also a bad idea because you may be able to have the ticket dismissed in court. This is especially true if you’ve committed a first offence and otherwise have a clean driving record. Fighting in court is the only way to know for sure whether you can have the charges reduced or dismissed. Ideally, you’ll hire a lawyer to help with this.
When it’s all said and done, you may still owe some money. But it’s not a good idea to pay the fine until you’ve talked to a lawyer and had your day in court. Remember: paying is admitting guilt. There’s no way to undo that. So don’t jump the gun, even if paying seems like the right thing to do. Take the next step, getting in touch with a lawyer, before you even think about paying a fine.
Get in Touch With a Lawyer
Given the potential consequences of paying the fine associated with your speeding ticket, your best bet is to fight against the charge in court. Ideally, the speeding charge will be dismissed and you won’t have to pay the fine. Is it possible for you to fight alone and achieve this outcome? In theory, yes. But is it likely? No. That’s why you need a lawyer.
One important thing to note: you really should get in touch with a lawyer before your fine is due and before you have an official court date. A lawyer can certainly help you make the most of it if you miss these dates, but it’s best for you if you don’t wait. The sooner you get a lawyer on the case, the better the outcome is likely to be for you.
The exact outcome you can expect will depend heavily on your individual circumstances, including both what you’re charged with and what your driving record is. If you were charged with going 60 kilometers over the speed limit in front of a nursery school and this is your fifth such offence, you probably aren’t going to get that charge dismissed. But a lawyer can still help mitigate the damage and will work with the court more effectively than you could on your own.
Ultimately, this is the most important step to take after you get a speeding ticket in Ontario. The laws in this province make it clear that driving is a privilege, not a right. No matter what your life circumstances are, the laws apply to you. Pleading your case in front of a judge, even if your story is genuine and you really need to be able to drive to survive, may not help. Paying the fine and admitting guilt without even trying to fight the ticket also isn’t a good idea, and ignoring the ticket altogether is even worse. Your best option in this scenario is to get help from a qualified legal professional who knows the ropes and has years of successful experience navigating traffic violation disputes in court.
Speeding is a common offence, but that doesn’t mean its effects aren’t damaging. When you’re caught speeding, you need to act immediately to protect yourself. Call us before you do anything else. We’re here to help.