How to Fight and Beat a Speeding Ticket In Canada

I tackle today’s topic with a hint of trepidation.  After all, I’m basically advocating for people to not obey traffic laws.  Before we get into how to most efficiently beat a traffic ticket I should make it clear that if you’re driving drunk, or extremely recklessly (re: 40km over) you deserve some serious punishment and this stuff won’t apply to you anyway.  Please don’t think I’m trying to justify extreme behavior that puts lives in harm’s way.

What this article is looking at is how to get out of a minor speeding ticket so that it doesn't kill your insurance costs going forward.  I had some first-hand experience with this type of situation when I was going to university.  There is a known speed trap coming off of the main highway leading on to campus where the limit goes from 60 to 30 as you make a left-hand turn.  If you got a green while in the flow of traffic and began reducing your speed as you turned into campus you were still guaranteed to be over the technical limit.  The cops had a perfect hiding spot just off of the main thoroughfare, and when it was statistics time (I worked four summers in law enforcement, that statistics are a part of the job is a fact, not a debate) you knew you had to really watch yourself.

Related: Don't Get Car Rental Insurance Next Time you Rent a Car 

Personal Experience

Unfortunately one Sunday morning I forgot about the trap.  It was near the end of the month (surprise surprise) and there was light traffic as I was coming back from the gym.  I got a green and began to decelerate down from 60 as I entered campus.  Of course I saw the cop a split second before the lights came on and knew I was in trouble.  He clocked me at 39.  Now, in this instance I truly believe that it is difficult to make the case I was a hazard to anyone else in society.  On a moral level I was pretty upset that I didn’t get let off with a warning, and so I looked into fighting the ticket on principle.  It didn’t hurt that I was a student with a fair amount of leisure time and that a couple hundred bucks was a lot of money to me at that point.  I won the case just by showing up, but I learned some very interesting things in the course of doing some research on the topic.

How to Fight and Beat a Speeding Ticket In Canada

The True Cost of a Speeding Ticket

From the government’s point of view, there is a science to setting the fee for breaking speeding laws at just the right level.  The idea is to get as high as possible without making the penalty so high that people will actually fight it.  Fighting a traffic ticket costs the government insane amounts of money when you consider that they have to pay a police officer to appear in court, a judge, and a prosecutor, as well as all of the other assorted court costs.

From our POV, the actual cost of the ticket should not be the real hang up.  The far larger consideration is that your insurance costs will rise.  Young people already pay the highest insurance rates in a society, so a ticket or two can really jack up the monthly amount taken out of your bank account.  It’s these costs that add up far faster than the $200 slap on the wrist.

It's Not the Fine, It's the Insurance Hit

The hit to your insurance is also the reason why you should almost never take a plea deal when you fight a ticket.  Just for showing up in court the judge will almost assuredly offer you 50% off of the ticket if you plead guilty and save the court a bunch of time and energy (our courts are generally so backed up that this is considered a good deal for them).  Don’t take this offer.  While you may pay as little as $30 or $40 upfront it will likely still affect your insurance.  The cop, judge, and prosecutor may try to intimidate you, but don’t worry, you’re only fighting a small traffic ticket, it’s nothing criminal – it’s just a numbers game to fill government coffers, and a plea deal will almost assuredly affect your insurance no matter what the powers that be tell you.

I should also note that I personally got tagged once by a red light traffic camera.  In this instance I opted to pay the fine instead of taking the time to go down to court and plead my case.  The reasoning behind this was that red light traffic camera infractions cannot be held against you on your insurance since no one can prove it was you driving (the camera catches your car and sends the bill to whomever it was registered to).  Fighting a red light camera ticket is a lot more difficult and the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze to me in terms of cost/benefit analysis.  I think most people are probably better off paying the fine and moving on in this case since your insurance company won’t get involved and your true costs stay pretty low (exactly the thinking the government wants to encourage).

Fighting the Traffic Ticket

So you got a ticket for going 10% over the speed limit and the officer was not empathetic to your case.  What are your best options if you want to dispute it?  Here is what I learned after reading several Canadian-specific resources.  Some of the rules do differ slightly from province to province but the broad process is applicable everywhere.

Step 1: You’ll win some of the time just by showing up.

When you make the decision to take a day off of work and go down to the court there is a decent chance the cop that gave you the ticket won’t be able to make it for a variety of reasons (sick, vacation, got tied up earlier in the morning with something else).  As long as your offence wasn’t serious, this is almost always an automatic win.

Step 2: Immediately request disclosure.

After filing for a court date (details usually on the ticket) you’ll receive a letter telling you when your court date is.  At this point (ASAP – do not procrastinate this step or you give the court some leverage) file for disclosure.  This means that cop’s notes will have to be presented to you in advance of the hearing.  I can say from personal experience that some law enforcement officers take excellent notes.  A large number (I might even say a slim majority if I had to guess) take brutal notes.  This is especially true percentage-wise if they are a young male officer – thanks to our public education system.

If an officer’s notes are inconsistent as to where the infraction was, what you were charged with, specifics about your car, or several other details, this might be enough to win the case all by itself.  Worst case scenario, you still need to know what evidence there is against you in order to fight the charge.

If your ticket was given with a radar gun (as mine was) ask for a copy of the calibration records to be disclosed as well.  Sometimes you can get lucky and the calibration will render the whole case invalid.

If an officer’s notes are illegible you can ask for a typed version at the trial and request an adjournment on that basis.  Even if they are just generally bad quality, this dramatically improves the chances of the judge throwing the case out – remember, it’s all a numbers game, they don’t want to be tied down with someone who was 9km over the speed limit.

Finally, when you request the disclosure make sure and get names of people you are talking to so if documents don’t get to you, you have some accountability in place.  In fact, I do this with almost all important documents.  I also register all of my mail back and forth.  If you’ve worked in an office before you know that these strategies work wonders.  The prosecutors may ask you to come down and get your disclosure information if you provide a phone number (the idea is to inconvenience you enough to dissuade you from fighting the ticket – numbers game).  Some advocate for only providing a mailing address.  One way or another, make sure you get the disclosure.

Step 3: Keep track of your calendar.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Secion 11 (b) states that (paraphrasing) you have the right to a fair and speedy trial.  Basically, if your court date is over a year away from your offence, you can make the case that the courts should throw out the case on 11(b) alone.  If you have done anything to postpone the case for your benefit this won’t work though, it has to be through no fault of your own.  Some people advocate several delay strategies for the express purpose of claiming this law.  I’m not sure I’d be that brave.

Step 4: If you’re going to lose don’t go to court.

If your court is being prompt and your officer had impeccable note-taking skills, then you might want to cash in your chips.  If you had a more serious charge you might want to hire a lawyer, but then this article doesn’t really apply to you.  Often the prosecutor will cut the ticket in half to get a guilty a plea.  At least this gives you some value for the time you spent so far, but the point of keeping your insurance down will likely be null and void.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Fighting Speeding Tickets in Court

There are numerous professionals that will jockey for your money with promises to get you out of your ticket.  The truth is that most of these people will simply advise you to take the plea deal they “get you” (that would have been offered anyway) and hope that the officer doesn’t show up.

If you have a case or don’t see the officer in the room for the start of the court session don’t take a plea no matter what intimidation tactics are used.  Remember, the worst case scenario here is that they’re going to make you pay the ticket that you already have.

If you plead “guilty with an explanation” that is still a guilty plea and will affect your insurance.  “Not guilty” is what you want to leave with.

Do You Know How Fast You Were Going?

Let’s be honest for a second – this is kind of a weasely way out.  The best case scenario is simply not to speed and not have any reason to get a ticket.  If you find yourself in a situation like I did however, where plainly the intent was to prove that the local law enforcement was doing something as opposed to actually protecting society from anything, then this process gives you the best chance to get your ticket tossed out and off of your record.  If I got the same ticket today, I might just make the calculated decision to pay it as opposed to taking the time off of my relatively well-paying job and footing the bill for my substantial travel costs (travelling in from a rural area).  So it’s definitely not worth it for everyone.

Have you ever been to court to fight a speeding ticket?  What were the results?  Did you notice anything in any of the cases before you?  Was it worth it in the end?

24 Comments

  1. Rob Parsons on October 20, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I just wanted to commend you for a fair and balanced commentary on the traffic fines system. You have certainly done a thorough job in researching this. I totally agree with everything you have said about only pursuing this if you weren’t drunk or driving recklessly. It’s not right for someone who is essentially a law-abiding citizen to be funding the system to be paying these fines, but totally appropriate for those who are flagrantly in violation. And, yeah, if it’s a red-light camera infraction, pay the fine, as it won’t affect your driving record or future license or insurance costs.



  2. Kitty on February 18, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I got a speeding ticket for going 74 in a 50 zone. I was honestly not speeding. The cop who pulled me over lost sight of me several times, and lied in court to the judge saying he never lost sight. He messed up several times during his statement, and dishonestly put forward the case.
    This pig actually threw the ticket in my face after ensuring him I did not speed. In other words, he knew he pulled over the wrong person, and just didn’t want to deal with the fact he was wrong. He threw the ticket in my face. I threw it back out of the car and told him im not paying it because I did not speed. He then told me to pick it up otherwise he is writing me a littering ticket.. Which (obviously) I picked up, with the stupid cop still wanting to write me a littering ticket. After this altercation, I obviously took the ticket to court…
    For it to not work in my favour, the judge was a complete as***le and so was the prosecutor. They really don’t give two sh*ts about what you have to say, they’re all conceited stuck up snobs who have one too many sticks shoved up their behinds.
    End of the day, I believe the whole reason behind this ticket was the fact that I drive a jaguar.. it’s not even a nice car the transmission is garbage and I can’t accelerate faster than a transport truck…. almost anyone in the civil servant field these days are goons, they are nothing but SERVANTS to the public, and those inconsiderate ***** should remember that.



  3. Sammy on May 1, 2015 at 10:19 am

    The police do not only issue tickets for speeding, they issue tickets for everything road related. You can be charged with careless driving, speeding, unsafe lane chances, sign disobey etc. All of these traffic ticket charges can be fought, however if you are unaware of the process you may be taken advantage of. You should never feel subjected to any form of injustice.

    I recently received a traffic ticket for speeding. I was going 85km/h in a 60km/h zone. I received a fine $250 and 3 demerit points I attempted to fight the traffic ticket on my own and I was not successful. Due to frustration I hired a paralegal to fight the traffic ticket and get rid of it completely. I came into contact with Street Legal and they were able to get rid my entire traffic ticket, points gone and charges dropped. I would highly recommend them to fight your traffic ticket.

    They can be reached at 416-601-1500 or StreetLegal.ca

    I hope this helps those wishing to seek representation to fight their traffic ticket!



  4. Para on March 17, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I was working for an auto repair shop for used cars. My boss told me to move the car out of the shop to the backyard. I drove the car to a street alongside the shop, and I was pulled over by the police. He said I did not put Dealer plate on the car. So I got 4 tickets. It was my first month work, I don’t know I have to put a D plate on the car. Anyone can give me a idea to help me out?



  5. Leonie on May 11, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I live in Vancouver area and I got pulled over doing 105 in a 50. I drive a new jeep and had the roof off, I had just turned left drove for about a minute and a black Honda or HondI went to the left then quickly got behind 2 cars on the right….I commented to my son, “a little early to be drinking”. Next thing I knew I was being pulled over! He showed me the radar gun saying 105 and I said that’s impossible. (I also had to drive a football field before I reached the police man.) He had me drive over to a spot and told me he was impounding my jeep…I said what there is no way I could of been doing 105 after I just turned left I would of had to gun it AND I could of blown my engine since it’s a brand new Jeep. He said, ” That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard and I’m not going to stand here and debate this with you on the side of the road…you can dispute it if you want”. I said oh don’t worry I will. He impounded my Jeep for 7 days… any advice? I already got the paperwork and have just filled it out asking for the celebrated certificate on the gun and any paperwork. I haven’t sent it in yet as I want to cover everything.
    I should also add that my son had some problems with some sico guy and the police officers that came handled his situation poorly….we both put complaints against 2 officers but made it very clear the first officer was awesome. ..this is in 3 diffrent situations …I have a feeling because it turned into a huge thing this officer may remember me coming in as we went in several times at there request. Once you make a complaint against one you have alot of bad ones who show their faces….we have never been in trouble before with anything….so you know. I did get pulled over once before and since I was speeding I paid it…I am am honest person and stay out of trouble but I will fight for my rights as I did for my son. ….so anything else I can put on my paperwork before I send it off?



  6. Kyle on May 11, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Sorry Leonie, nothing to add above and beyond what we have here so far…



  7. ian on August 1, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    hi, thsnks for the info, you are right! fight every ticket – look online at HTA and make sure the evidence at trial is supporting the offence – I got off a tint ticket that way….lol
    if you did everything here then go to court and get there 15 min early and look for the cop – he not there? – good you win so go in court and sit at the door so you can see if he shows – if he does and all is in losing favour, you bail – if he is no show, you fight and you win auto – look at the docket paper on the court door and see how many people are set for trial – see your name in order of alphabet- closer to a, you will be called first and if cop not there you win so fight and odds are in your favour – sorry for bad post – hate typing



  8. ian on August 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    hey para, your boss is either an ass or fool – the car was not registered, no insurance prob and whatever else – go to court and speak to crown attorney to see if all dropped for you, otherwise go fight and explain to judge and if hes decent, he will dissmiss all offences



  9. Len on August 13, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Leonie that sounds like a very serious charge. You might want to consider getting legal help. Too late for you but for other drivers the best tip I can give you is to NOT BE MEMORABLE to the Officer. Best thing you can do when you get a ticket is to politely accept it, speak respectfully and ask where you could go pay the ticket today if you wanted to do that. The idea here is to make the officer believe that you will not fight the ticket. What you want to do is to have the Officer not take notes or take very poor notes because he doesn’t believe you will go to court. No notes or bad notes are a really good thing for you when you go to court. Also, when you ask for “Disclosure” you really need to know what you are doing because municipalities are not your friend with respect to their standard “disclosure request forms”. The best thing you can do if you are going to fight your ticket is to hire a competent legal professional – be it a lawyer or paralegal. I have done this on several instances and the success rate has been phenomenal.



  10. A on September 6, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    You can used this website to find reviews of paralegals/lawyers that fight traffic tickets before hiring them: profferedapp.com



  11. Raj on September 7, 2016 at 10:09 am

    I got a speeding ticket (around $60 incl. tax) today driving 69 km/h in a 50km/h zone. I was even not speeding just momentarily speeds up to make a room for garbage picking tuck, as it wants to change lane. As soon as passed it, I was reducing the speed but an officer pulled over me and gave me a ticket. he told me I know you were reducing the speed but you are above speed limit. Though it is the very first time I have been pulled over, he gave me the ticket. But I do not want a slap on my insurance, please advice what to do.



  12. Kyle on September 7, 2016 at 11:37 am

    See some of the comments below Raj. I’d recommend showing up for court just to see if the cop shows!



  13. Jon on October 1, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I got a ticket for 130 in 100. I know I was speeding but I know I wasn’t going 130. Do I still have a chance at taking it to court and winning?



  14. Kyle on October 3, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Get the history of the speed gun Jon. If that checks out and the cop actually shows up, then you might be in for a rough time.



  15. Kim on November 8, 2016 at 12:19 am

    I got pulled over for doing 80 in a 60 zone. There was no way I could have been doing 80 in that area … It was at night and there was a curve before a short straightaway and the road ends shortly up the way, also there are deer in the area at night and I want to be careful and not hit one. I was coming up on an opposing car (cop) and he turned his lights on and I looked down and didn’t slow down because I was only going 58 at the time and I thought he was going somewhere else. I kept going and saw in my rear view that he turned around .. He was pulling ME over. and he said he had me “locked” going 80 … I don’t even go 80 in the area on that road that allows 80 … I go more like 72 or 75 if that. And I wouldn’t be going 80 in the area he “caught” me at. I think he had it on and caught the car above on the overpass and not me … they were probably going 80 because the exit was coming up. He gave me a ticket … I never got a ticket before (am 52 years old). And I asked him if he ever gave warnings and he said blah blah blah … traffic control blah blah blah …. I know this idiot (lives on the same road as me) he gave a speeding ticked to two old ladies going to church one day going 5 km over. he says he has the “video” so I am going to ask when he “got” me etc and to prove that it was in fact me or the car on the highway above. and to show the video. So what do you all think about this? I plan to go to court and need to know what happens sin



  16. OTD Legal - Traffic Ticket Defence on November 25, 2016 at 10:20 am

    There are a few errors to point out in this article as far as Ontario law and the court process.

    For Ontario law, generally the speed cut-off for serious offences begins at 50 km/h over the posted speed limit. At this point, the Officer involved will generally issue a Stunt Driving offence under section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act.

    Currently, the odds of an Officer not showing up at Court are almost zero. Back in the older days this was more of an issue. The Officer is required only to be present for a trial date. Any absence is generally known by the Prosecutor in advance of the trial date, and the court will generally approve a request to adjourn the trial date to a day when the officer will be available. First trial dates are currently also scheduled by Officer availability.

    The Justice of the Peace (not a Judge) does not offer reductions in the offence if you plead guilty. If you plead guilty to a speeding offence you are convicted and there is a specified fine for the rate of speed over the posted speed limit that you were travelling. Any discussions of resolution are made directly between the Prosecutor and the defence. Given the specific details of your matter, your driving record, and the jurisdiction that you matter occurred in, the Prosecutor may or may not be willing to negotiate. Any legal basis to have the offence withdrawn generally requires a licenced paralegal who has the knowledge and experience to determine if such an argument exists.

    Generally most speeding tickets can either get thrown out at court or be reduced to a lesser offence. A licenced paralegal can guide you through this process to make informed decisions without requiring you to attend court personally. OTD Legal provides a no-cost, no obligation initial review of Ontario cases and can generally advise whether or not it is worth proceeding on a given matter.



  17. ron mepham on December 1, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I got a ticket for failure to slow down and proceed with caution for emergency vehicle. How will this one affect my ins.I haven’t had a ticket in 30 years. Should I use a paralegal and fight it in court?



  18. osmal on January 11, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Ron mepham:Your clean record don’t mitigate the offence if it is considered by the crown as “AbsoluteLiability”.The demerit points if you are convicted will affect by 3 years with an increased insurance. A Paralegal will cost to you 200-400 $ C. You can consult your insurer and calculate it, and change your insurer to save one year the increase, that depends of the ticket and contract dates .If you go alone in court need study how work the proceedings, ask for disclosure, go to the court to familiarize, make a diagram of the incident and file as exhibit in your turn, and take note if the traffic in these circumstances impede your accomplishments of the HTA rules, prepare questions to cross examine the Cop, and your arguments and conclusions ,do not testify, leave the crown prove his case, study the notes of the Cop, possible will not are enough evidence etc..



  19. Karen w on February 8, 2017 at 1:51 am

    I was given a ticket for 131 in a 100 and I had my daughter in the car and I know I was not going that fast even she said so but this female cop came up and said what is the hurry and smiled and I said no hurry. She asked for my license and insurance and came back with this time and said you were going 31 over the speed limit and since you are from out of town just fill out section 2 and give your phone number and you can ask to get it lowered and just make sure you are available for the date you are given. She smiled and said have a nice day and went back to her car. I didn’t even get to say anything to her and she was telling me how to fight the ticket…I think she knows I was not going that fast and knows it will be dropped but I am not sure and can’t afford this against my ins and losing the points or the 260 fine. Is there anything that I can use to get the points taken away and lower the amount of my ticket…ty.



  20. Ed on February 22, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Sorry but, The truth is,our laws are absolutely gear towards control and profit.Moreover,when you look at the speed limits even in the U.S, ours for the most part are BS.I agree with some of the limits through towns,schools,hospitals.but, when you are out on highways just cruising like i was on my bike,not crazy ,(110) (where i might add, cars cruise anywhere from 90 to 110) now they have totally **** me,as my insurance was just cancelled.So, at this point, i am willing to take it further than most.I am starting, to learn some interesting things about statues and force of law. which i would encourage others to do as well.



  21. Jeremy McCombs on March 10, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I was pulled over for going 90 in a 50. I told the officer there was no way I was going that fast, and I’d like to see his speed gun. He refused and wrote me a ticket. When he brought the ticket to me I insisted he show me. He begrudgingly went and got the gun, it was locked in at 89. But the ticket says 90 in a 50. Should I fight it?



  22. Kat on May 25, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Hi! I got pulled over . He was going opposite direction of me turmed around and stopped me saying that i was gping 71km on 50 km . But he gave me a ticket stating i was going 65 km on 50 km since it was my first offence. Now can i fight that?



  23. Barb Grawberger on August 4, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Received a speeding ticket in the mail had no street address on it so we have no idea if we were speeding or not. Said we were doing 67 in a 50 the picture looks like a boulevard but we don’t know which one



  24. John Richardson on December 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    I was going 180 in a 30 zone, but I didn’t know this because my speedometer is broken. When the cop came over to me he smelt of marijuana.

    Can I get off because the policeman was driving while impaired? He was trailing behind me.



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