Common Motor Vehicle Offences under the Highway Traffic Act
Most traffic offences fall under the Highway Traffic Act. Some of the more commonly encountered offences include; driving while licence is suspended, careless driving, driving without a valid licence, no valid sticker, failing to produce permit/ownership, and speeding.
Driving Without Insurance
There are other traffic offence offences that fall under separate provincial legislation, such as driving without insurance, which is found in the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.
Differences between Criminal Matters and Motor Vehicle Matters
All of the above noted offences are prosecuted by either the City Prosecutor’s Office or the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office. Trials involving traffic tickets are heard before a Justice of the Peace not a Judge, and are prosecuted by a city or provincial prosecutor not an Assistant Crown Attorney.
Despite these differences, you are still before the Ontario Court of Justice and you should conduct yourself as you would in any other court, with respect and civility.
Penalties for Common Traffic Offences
Driving Without Insurance
Although generally less serious than criminal offences, some of the motor vehicle offences listed above can carry significant penalties upon conviction. For example, driving without insurance carries with it a mandatory minimum $5,000 fine, and a person could be subject to a maximum of fine of $25,000 on a first offence. A second or subsequent conviction for driving without insurance carries a minimum $10,000 fine and a person may be subject to a licence suspension of up to one year.
Driving While Licence is Suspended
Driving while licence is suspended carries a minimum $1,000 fine and a minimum $2,000 fine for a subsequent offence, and/or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months. Where your licence has been suspended as a result of an offence such as impaired driving, over 80, dangerous driving, or failing to stop at the scene of accident, the mandatory minimum fines for driving while licence is suspended are increased to $5,000 for a first offence and $10,000 for any subsequent offence. A subsequent offence under this section refers to a person who has been convicted of the same offence of driving while licence is suspended within 5 years from the previous date of conviction.
A conviction for careless driving carries a mandatory minimum penalty of a $400 fine and up to a maximum fine of $2,000. In addition, a conviction for careless driving can result in your licence being suspended for a period of up to 2 years.
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You should take traffic offences just as serious as would for criminal offences. Convictions for motor vehicle offences can have very serious consequences, including a loss of your licence and/or the imposition of significant fines.