The Highway Traffic Act in Ontario provides a list of Ontario driving infractions. There are different types of infractions that can generally be classified as minor, major, and criminal infractions. Criminal infractions fall under the Criminal Code of Canada and have severe consequences. Charges under the Criminal Code can happen anywhere, on private as well as public property.
By now, if you're a driver, you're familiar with demerit points. If you get a traffic ticket, you're most likely concerned about the fine you'll receive, as well as how many demerit points are attached to the ticket.
Financially much more significant than the fine, is the impact a ticket will have on your insurance. Insurance companies have different ways of assessing risk. Certainly any major or criminal convictions or even one or more minor convictions will result in an increase to your premiums once that record appears on your driver's abstract and that will cost much more than any fine.
In certain cases, you may find yourself uninsurable and the insurance company could deny you insurance in the future. Some people may find themselves relying on public transportation, taxis, or Uber should they have too many traffic tickets or accidents on their insurance records.
The following are lists of some of the more common types of traffic infractions.
Driver's licence violations
Driving with an insecure load
Driving without an up-to-date inspection sticker
Failing to share the road
Failing to signal
Failure to use seatbelts
Failing to yield to another vehicle or pedestrian
Failure to surrender your licence to authority
Failure to produce evidence of insurance to authority
Failure to carry an insurance card
Following too closely (tailgating)
Improper driving in a bus lane
Improper opening of a door
Improper passing, lane change or turn
Improper railway crossing
Improper use of divided highway
Obstruction of licence plate
Overloading (too many people in the car)
Stop sign or traffic light infraction
Unnecessary slow driving
Unsafe or prohibited turn
Use of radar warning device
False statement of insurance
Failure to follow restrictions in a school zone or improper passing zone
Failing to report an accident
Failure to report damage to highway property
Failing to stop or improper passing at a school bus
Operating motor vehicle with no insurance
Producing false evidence of licence or insurance
Speeding in a construction zone
Violating licence restrictions (non-alcohol related)
Distracted driving including:
Use of a phone or other hand-held wireless communication device to text or dial
Use of a hand-held electronic entertainment device, such as a tablet or portable gaming console
Viewing display screens unrelated to driving, such as watching a video
Programing a GPS device, except by voice commands
Serious Tickets and Criminal Convictions:
Careless or dangerous driving
Driving impaired (blood alcohol level over 0.08 in Ontario)
Failing to obey police
Failing to remain at an accident scene
Refusing a breathalyzer test
Speeding 50 km over the posted speed limit (or set limit in your province)
Violating licence restrictions (alcohol-related)
If you have been issued a traffic ticket, you should speak to a lawyer to determine whether or not there are any fatal errors on the ticket that may affect whether or not a conviction is possible. You should understand that by paying the fine, you are admitting guilt. Some people will say never agree to an early resolution or to meet with the prosecutor. That's not necessarily true. Depending on what deal you're able to strike with the prosecutor, it may not always be worth it to go to trial and take the risk of a conviction on a much more serious charge, especially one that may take away your driving privileges or result in huge penalties. For most people, it may be beneficial to negotiate a lesser fine, understanding that a fine is a guilty plea and it will most likely affect your insurance premiums.
If you are determined to fight your traffic ticket, you should speak to a lawyer with respect to documentary disclosure from the Crown. Even if you request disclosure yourself, there may be additional disclosure that the Crown has not provided to you but you will need to be able to particularize and request. Usually, the key to winning a case rest with the little details that are easy to miss without a lawyer's help.
You should also know that certain offenses are considered strict liability offenses. What I have seen at trials is people trying to fight a speeding ticket by explaining why they were speeding. Unless the reason is to save yourself or somebody else's life, under strict liability rules, a court will likely not forgive a speeding ticket just because there is a reason for speeding. That being said, it's not that speeding tickets are not fought successfully. It just means you have to have an understanding of the law to understand what legal arguments may work and what may not. Unfortunately, most people who go to court alone and represent themselves do not understand the legal tests when fighting a speeding ticket, when making 11b applications, pursuing rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as what disclosure they may be able to get and how to effectively cross-examine the police officer.
If you're looking to make an application for your case to be thrown out due to unreasonable delay, you also need to be up-to-date as to the case laws involving delays. This is an ever-evolving area of law and a lawyer can help you with your legal strategy.
Ready to get started? Key Legal has Ontario Traffic Tickets and DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) lawyers ready to help you either through Zoom meetings or by telephone. You can either book an appointment or request a lawyer on-demand. Just use our booking page or our chat feature to get started!