Speeding Tickets Options
Dealing with a Speeding Ticket
You’ve received a speeding ticket, now you’re trying to decide whether to pay or fight it.
The options that the traffic court gives you are:
- pay the ticket
- plead guilty with an explanation
- have a meeting with the prosecutor
- dispute the ticket
Ensure you understand all the penalties & implications for a speeding ticket before deciding to pay the ticket. Speeding tickets have more penalties than just a fine.
What Your Insurance Cares About…
Insurance companies use a “risk” formula to set the rate for your automobile insurance. Where a driver has a “clean” record, the insurance will be at its lowest. Where the driver has accidents, claims and traffic ticket convictions the insurance will increase.
The higher the risk of being in an accident, the higher the insurance will be.
When it comes to speeding tickets, the insurance is only concerned if you are “convicted” of speeding and the “conviction” appears on your driving record.
A conviction is where the driver:
- pays the ticket
- is found guilty at court
- pleads guilty or does not dispute the ticket
- regardless if there are demerit points or not
Where a speeding ticket goes on your driving record, the insurance can be affected for 3 years.
Demerit Points Don’t Matter
Your insurance company does not care if you receive demerit points or not. The insurance is only concerned about convictions.
Driver’s must avoid convictions not demerits. The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) counts demerit points, insurance companies count convictions.
Demerit points do not affect insurance rates unless the driver accumulates too many points and the licence is suspended.
The best option for saving the insurance is to fight the ticket by setting a court date. Most speeding tickets (98%) that are disputed are dismissed or reduced on the court date.
Early Resolutions & First Attendance
Meetings with the prosecutor are called:
- early resolutions, or
- first attendance
In these meetings, the prosecutor tries to get the driver plead guilty. The prosecutor will offer to reduce the demerit points and/or the fine.
Early resolutions and first attendance meetings should be avoided because:
- conviction is registered
- the conviction affects insurance
- prosecutor does not have to prove the charge
Where the driver accepts a reduced charge the conviction still goes on the insurance for 3 years. Each year the insurance will be affected by the conviction on the driving record.
Ninety-eight percent of contested traffic tickets are dismissed or reduced on a court date.
Setting a Trial Date
Setting a trial date to dispute the ticket is the best option.
By pleading NOT guilty the driver:
- delays or doesn’t have to pay the fine
- keeps any conviction off the driving record for an extended period of time
- stands the best chance of winning the ticket
- avoids any licence suspensions
Where the case does come to trial all of the options on the back of the ticket are usually still available to the driver.
Where the case appears at court and the prosecution appears to be able to prove the charge and the officer is in attendance the driver can still:
- pay the ticket
- plead guilty with an explanation
- discuss the ticket with the prosecutor, or
- proceed to trial
What about just paying the ticket?
If you pay the ticket,
- the ticket immediately goes on your driving record,
- any demerit points are applied, and
- the conviction is available to your insurance company
Any conviction on your driving record will affect the insurance rates for three (3) years.
Pleading Guilty with an Explanation
If you plead guilty with an explanation you must appear at the court and stand in front of the judge.
All the judge is allowed to do is reduce the fine. Upon conviction the ticket immediately goes on the driving record. Any demerit points are applied and the conviction is available to your insurance company.
Any conviction on your driving record will affect insurance for three (3) years.
Meeting with the Prosecutor
Many court clerks have been ordered and encouraged to schedule drivers for early resolution and first attendance meetings.
These meeting are NOT set up with the drivers best interests in mind.
The courts want people to plead guilty, so they save money by not scheduling court hearings, and scheduling officers to appear in court.
Court clerks may suggest that you met with the prosecutor, so you can “come to an agreement to avoid a contested trial”.
This phrase is meant to intimidate and encourage the driver to plead guilty, so the court:
- gets a conviction and your money
- the police officer doesn’t have to appear
- court time is reduced
This system is set up to save the court system money regardless of your rights and the affect(s) of a conviction on your driving record and insurance.
The court does not care about you, what happened, your clean driving record or the bills you have to pay including how much your car insurance is.
If you do decide to met the prosecutor, they will offer to reduce the ticket down to the next level, for example:
- reduce a 4 point ticket to 3 points, or
- reduce the fine from $110 to $50
Most reductions offered on first attendance or early resolutions date are not worth doing, as the insurance will still be affected.
Whether the ticket goes from a 4 to 3 points or even to no demerits, the ticket goes on the driving record affecting insurance for 3 years.
Any conviction on your driving record will affect insurance for three (3) years, regardless if there are demerits or not.