Speeding tickets in Ontario
Speeding tickets are one of the most common traffic offenses in Ontario. In 2019, police officers issued more than 200 000 tickets in Toronto alone. It’s no surprise either. Most of us have experienced driving along an empty road and letting yourself inch past the limit because we think we know we are safe. However, speeding tickets can seriously damage your driving record and hike up your insurance rates more than we give them credit for. In this article, we’ll break down how much a speeding ticket will cost you, how speeding tickets affect your driving record, and what their impact is on your insurance.
How much is a speeding ticket in Ontario?
There are four tiers of speeding tickets in the province of Ontario:
0-15 km over the speed limit
16-29 km over the speed limit
30-49 km over the speed limit
50 or more km over the speed limit
Each of these categories are associated with differing amounts of risk. The faster you are going, the more reckless your driving and the steeper the penalty. If you are caught speeding in traffic zones with limited speed limits such as school zones or community zones, the fines will be even more elevated. Here’s the breakdown for how much you would have to pay for a speeding ticket in Ontario as per the provincial court:
1-19 km over the maximum speed limit: $2.50 per km
20-29 km over the maximum speed limit: $3.75 per km
30-49 km over the maximum speed limit: $6.00 per km
50 km or more over the maximum speed limit: No settlement payment, you will be required to appear in court.
In a safety zone with reduced speed limits:
1-19 km over the maximum speed limit: $5.00 per km
20-29 km over the maximum speed limit: $7.50 per km
30 or more km over the maximum speed limit: No settlement payment, you will be required to appear in court.
So, as an example, if you were driving at 80km/hour in a 60 km/hour zone, you will face a fine of $75.00 (20×3.75). In a school zone, this would increase to $150.
How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record
According to the current Highway Traffic Act applied in Ontario, speeding infractions will remain on your driving record from three years after the day of your conviction. This is not the date you received your ticket. In order to accept your conviction and take responsibility, you must pay the fine. So the three years actually begins from the day you pay your speeding fine or appear in traffic court. Depending on how fast you were speeding, you will get differing demerit points.
Demerit points for speeding tickets in Ontario
Speeding up to 15 km over the maximum limit will not earn you demerit points.
Going 16-29 km over the maximum limit is 3 demerit points.
Going 30-49 km over the maximum limit is 4 demerit points.
Going 50 or more km over the maximum limit is 6 demerit points.
Demerit points stay on your license for two years following the offense. After two years, the demerits will be removed, although as mentioned above, a record of the offense will remain for an additional year. If you accumulate enough demerit points in Ontario, your license will be suspended.
How will a speeding ticket affect my insurance rate?
A speeding ticket will affect your insurance rate for as long as the offense remains on your record, that is to say, 3 years. The good news is that the increase in your insurance is proportional to the offense. So, a single ticket if you are caught speeding at 10 km over the maximum limit likely will not impact your insurance premium, unless you are considered a higher risk driver (usually young or elederly drivers). However, insurance companies pay close attention to high risk behaviour and penalize extensively for major convictions. Speeding at 50 or more km over the speed limit, or speeding in a safety zone are considered serious offences and will cause your insurance rates to spike by as much as 25%.
Minor convictions, in this case speeding at fewer kilometers over the maximum, can also impact your insurance rate. While a single minor infraction won’t impact your premium, two minor convictions can raise your insurance rates up to 20% and 20% more after that if you continue to accumulate tickets. Depending on your driving record, your insurance provider may decrease the amount added to your premium. Essentially, those with a steady driving record will be forgiven for their mistakes.
What to do if I get a speeding ticket in Ontario?
Many drivers will be given speeding tickets at some point in their driving career. But what do you actually do once you’ve been issued the ticket? Let’s look at the steps you need to take to insure you face the minimum penalties for your infraction.
First thing’s first: You should examine the options of the back of your speeding ticket carefully. Generally, when dealing with a speeding ticket, there are generally four options you can take:
- Pay the ticket if you have the option of a settlement.
- Plead guilty with an explanation in court.
- Meet with the prosecutor.
- Contest the ticket.
The first two options involve you accepting responsibility for the incident and accepting a conviction. If you meet with the prosecutor, they will generally try and get you to plead guilty and accept the charges to speed up the process. If you do accept the charges, you will generally face lower fines and fewer demerit points than if you try to contest the ticket and are still found guilty.
Contesting your ticket
If you choose to contest your ticket in Ontario, you will be given a trial date at some point in the future. This may be beneficial for a couple of reasons. By extending the process, you will not have to pay any fines up front and any suspension of your license, demerit points, or additional fines will be put off until your trial date. In other words, it’s an excellent way to buy yourself some time to defend yourself without any immediate financial burdens. When you appear in court, the officer is also present, and the prosecution proves its case despite your plea, you can still revert to one of the original options (paying the ticket, pleading with an explanation, or meeting with the prosecutor).
Paying your ticket
If you pay the ticket, plead guilty with an explanation, or accept the charges from a prosecutor, your driving infraction will go immediately onto your driving record as a conviction. Remember, convictions are the only thing that matters to an insurance company. Your insurer won’t pay much attention to the number of demerits you get, but focus on the fact that you broke the law. So, the conviction is the real measure of risk as far as your coverage goes. This is why setting a trial date may be appealing to many. There is always a chance the officer who gave you the ticket won’t turn up in court, or that your guilty plea stands a chance of winning, in which case you won’t face any increase in your insurance rates because the charges will be dropped.
So, there you have it — everything you need to know about speeding tickets in Ontario. Always keep in mind that speeding tickets do not go away. It is always best practice to deal with them swiftly and calculatedly, whether that means paying a fine and taking a hit on your driving record, or taking a little more time and appealing your case in traffic court.