Out of Province Speeding Tickets (OPST)
No matter where you are driving, you are liable to get a speeding ticket, or any other traffic ticket. Wherever you are, the tickets come with a variety of penalties and consequences. This article breaks down the various penalties associated with receiving speeding tickets far from home and how you might fight a ticket you think is unjust.
Do I have to pay an out of province speeding ticket?
Depending on the severity of your infraction, you may be issued a court summons at the time of the incident. Speeding tickets are issued in varying degrees. For example, in Ontario, a police officer may issue you with a ticket that specifies a fine you need to pay, or a ticket that requests you to appear in court. These do not take into account your home province and you can be called before a judge no matter where your place of residence.
Unfortunately, this means that if you are visiting from another province, you need to remain in the province until your specified court date. These court dates can be brief. Sometimes, the officer who wrote the ticket may not be present in which case the charges will automatically be dropped. Other times, the prosecutor may offer you a deal to plead guilty for a lesser charge which results in a decreased fine and fewer points on your license. Either way, although traffic court can seem daunting and scary, it tends to be more of an annoyance for everyone involved that anything else.
If you feel the speeding ticket is unjust, you can plead not guilty. This is the only way to get the charge thrown out and avoid any demerits on your license. There are two ways to go about representing your objection:
Appointing yourself: You can choose to appear in court in your defence. You can find lots of advice online about how to prepare for traffic court in any province. If you request a trial, you usually get a date in the coming couple of weeks which gives you time to properly inspect your ticket. If you want to win, it’s important to review and be able to reference relevant sections of the Highway Traffic Act and the Provincial Offences Act to bolster your arguments.
Hiring a lawyer: Many legal resources exist to offer representation to those fighting speeding tickets in traffic court. The person who represents you will often be a paralegal. However, this is by far the least popular option. As mentioned earlier, traffic court appearances tend to be more of an inconvenience than a real problem and the cost of hiring external representation will usually outweigh the cost of a fine.
What should you do if you get an out of province speeding ticket?
Some provinces, like Alberta, used to have on the spot fines that tourists could pay to avoid any delays in their travels. But this option has recently been revoked meaning you might just have to extend your trip should you be caught speeding.
If you forget or willingly do not pay your speeding ticket within the allotted time, you may face a higher penalty or be called on to appear in court. If you do not appear in court on the specified date, you could face even more serious charges and the court will charge you with the offence in your absence.
Some advice suggests that you should ignore a speeding ticket and count on the administrative inefficiency of any given province, hoping your ticket gets lost somewhere in the mess of other reckless drivers. Do not, I repeat, do not do this! While paying for or defending a speeding ticket takes a matter of days or a couple of weeks, ignoring it could cost you months of driving time. We live in the digital age. Any speeding ticket issued in any province is traceable to you. One province will notify the driving authority in your home province resulting in your license being suspended until the amount is paid (and the amount may be quite a lot larger). If you are caught in another driving infraction with one or more unpaid tickets on record, the penalty will only get worse.
How does an out of province speeding ticket affect my driving record?
Regardless of where you get the speeding ticket, it will affect your driving record. Any recorded offence in any Canadian province, US state, or country abroad, will be recorded on your personal record.
The number of demerit points for a speeding ticket and their consequences depends on the seriousness of the offence and the kind of driving licence you have.
- Going 15 km or less over the limit does not affect your licence.
- Going 16-29 km will get your three demerits.
- Going 30-44 km carries a penalty of four demerits.
For Ontarians with a full licence, 15 accumulated demerit points will result with your licence being suspended. For a driver with a G1 or G2 licence, six demerits could get your licence suspended.
In Alberta, if you received between 4 and 8 demerit points, you will receive a cautionary notice in the mail. If you add up more than 8 demerit points within a two year period you will have your license suspended for one month. If you receive any other demerit points in the year after your first suspension, you will face another of two months. If you receive subsequent demerit points in the two years after this, your licence will be suspended for six months and you will be required to go to a hearing before the Alberta Transportation Safety Board.
Does an out of province speeding ticket affect my insurance rate?
The short and honest answer is, yes. Your insurance provider relies on your driving record to gauge the risk you pose as a client. Therefore, it does not matter where the speeding ticket is issued, any infraction that damages your driving record can affect your insurance premium.
As with everything else in the insurance game, the actual effect on your insurance rate is variable. If you have a clean record, your provider could choose to be forgiving. If you are a young driver, you may face a sharper increase in price than if you are a seasoned driver who suffers a one-off bout of reckless driving. The rule of thumb is, the longer you’ve been driving with a full license and the cleaner your driving record, the less you will suffer at the hands of your insurance premium. But remember, your insurance provider can offer important clarification on such matters.
Don’t be afraid to contact your insurance company for advice or information for speeding tickets and their potential consequences.