The Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) maintains records of Ontario traffic ticket offenses, convictions and suspension data related to motor vehicle use. According to the Ontario Road Safety Annual Report (ORSAR) 2007, there were 1,305,599 convictions related to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), which contributed to nearly 89.8% of all the motor vehicle convictions in Ontario. The second largest percentage group was insurance related convictions under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (CAIA), which was a total of 85,738 convictions and comprised 5.9% of the total. These two main groups are followed by out of province exchanged convictions (under the HTA) of 27,928 (1.9%), and the convictions under the Criminal Code of Canada of 16,938 (excluding 709 convictions for young offenders).
The following table shows a breakdown of Ontario traffic ticket offences & convictions in 2007:
|Name of Conviction
|Number of Convictions
|Speeding (Pointable Conviction) (3, 4, 6 pts)
|Administrative (Non-moving, weight, vehicle registration, licence renewal, etc)
|Other Pointable Convictions (2-4 pts)
|Automobile Collision Claim/Insurance
|Other Non-Pointable Convictions
|Seat Belt (Driver & Passenger)
|Driving While Suspended
|Other Pointable Convictions (5-7 pts)
|Other Criminal Code Convictions
In general, a “traffic ticket” falls under two categories. For minor offences, there will be a set fine for the ticket. For more serious offences, the ticket will be in the form of a summons which will require you to attend court where your guilt or innocence will be determined and penalties will be imposed if you are found guilty. Depending on the offence, the penalties may include demerit points.
Parking tickets are different. There are no demerit points added to your driving record. If you do not pay the set fine, you will not be able to renew your vehicle permit (licence plate). Your fine will be referred to a collection agent and the information will be sent to a credit bureau if you fail to pay on time. If you pay the fine within the required time frame (15 days), there is almost no other consequence.
When you receive a traffic ticket, some of the following options may be available to you:
- You could do nothing, which is not recommended because once you are convicted, even in your absence, and fail to pay a fine within the set time, you will be subject to further consequences affecting your credit, the renewal of your vehicle permit, and if your ticket was for a moving violation, also your driver’s licence.
- You can pay the set fine without going to court, which would mean that you admit that you are guilty of the offence.
- You can go to court, enter a guilty plea with submissions to request a reduced penalty.
- You can go to court and negotiate with the prosecutor for a guilty plea to a lesser offence or, if that doesn’t work, to fight the charge in a full trial
Before you pay the set fine or decide to plead guilty in court, you should always consider the following consequences:
- Demerit points
- Possible increases in insurance premiums
- Licence suspension
- Vehicle impoundment
- Civil liability
Even though you will not get a criminal record for a provincial offence, such as a traffic ticket, it is always advisable to fight the charge because the conviction will remain on your driving record and you will not be pardoned for those convictions. They will remain on your record forever!
With the assistance of our experienced legal representation, you would improve your chances of: avoiding or reducing demerit points; avoiding increased insurance premiums; avoiding or reducing a period of driver’s licence suspension; avoiding vehicle impoundment; and, avoiding or reducing fine amounts or jail time.
The legal fees usually pay for themselves very quickly as a result of the avoidance of costs such as for increased insurance or high fines, not to mention the non-monetary value of avoiding the various possible legal consequences such as a driver’s licence suspension. Investing in proper legal representation should save you money in the long-term.