So today I got my first speeding ticket from going 80 km/h in a 50 zone, reduced to 70. I have been in an accident before so my insurance rate is already pretty high, yet I don't really handle my own insurance as I am the secondary driver on my family car. I'm also 20 and still have my G2, which causes me to have a high insurance rate, so I'm wondering what is the best option for me in regards to this ticket? Is it worth fighting in court? If I do pay the ticket and/or plead guilty, is my insurance going to raise extremely, and are there any demerit points associated with this fine? Sorry for all the questions, I'm just inexperienced in handling tickets and want to know the best possible option for me. Thank you!
I suggest everybody should always try and fight their tickets. Speeding at 30 over or 20 over are both MINOR offences per insurance and would affect it identically, so they could cause an additional increase in premiums (5% to 10% maybe).
As a G2 driver, how many demerits do you need before you get a license suspension? And how many demerits do you already have against your license because of accident?
WHAT SHOULD I DO? HOW DO I FIGHT MY TICKET?
Regardless of how simple or complex the charge is (from parking tickets to DUI), you have the RIGHT to a fair trial and a RIGHT to see the evidence they have against you. Even if you admit to doing whatever you were charged with, you still have these rights.
So my advice is that you should plead NOT GUILTY and request a Trial with the officer present. Once you get your Notice of Trial with a trial date, you can request disclosure (copy of notes of all officers involved, copy of radar/laser device manual if applicable).
Once you get the disclosure (officers notes), post them back on the forum so we can review them and give you more advice (black out any personal id info and officer id info).
You have nothing to lose by doing this, as you can still plead guilty and pay the ticket anytime up to the trial. You have everything to gain because the officers notes contain what they will testify, and if something is missing in their notes, you might be able to get the charge dropped.
SHOULD I HIRE A PARALEGAL/LAWYER?
In order to save some money, you can usually do all the above steps yourself first, without the need to hire a paralegal or lawyer. Once you get the disclosure and depending on the seriousness of the charge, you can then decide whether to hire one or whether to try and fight it yourself. You can also arrange to meet with the prosecutor yourself before the trial, to see if they will offer you a plea deal. Again, there is no point in hiring a paralegal to negotiate a plea deal you can do yourself.
Points to conisder:
- Do not hire any paralegal/lawyer that suggests they can win without seeing the disclosure first.
- Only hire a paralegal/lawyer that will review the disclosure with you and suggest possible defenses to try and fight it.
- Do not hire any paralegal/lawyer that considers "negotiating a plea deal" a win. Although a plea deal might be the best choice for you, some paralegals do not try to fight at all and will only negotiate plea deals and then they say they "won".
- Do not hire any paralegal/lawyer that "gurantees a win or you don't pay" as this is illegal in Ontario.
VEHICLE INSURANCE & DEMERITS
The effects of pleading guilty to a 0 demerit charge, can still cause your insurance rates to increase for 3 years. It is important to remember that insurance companies do NOT care about demerit points. Insurance companies rate the tickets you get as either MINOR, MAJOR or SERIOUS. For each minor conviction you have, your insurance may raise your rates a little. For each major conviction you have, your insurance may raise your rates a lot. For each serious conviction you have, your insurance may DOUBLE your rates or even refuse to provide you with insurance at all.
For example, most speeding tickets, regardless of demerit points, are considered minor and will affect your insurance the same. Example:
- Speeding 1 over to 15 over = 0 demerit points = Considered MINOR by inusrance company.
- Speeding 16 over to 29 over = 3 demerit points = also considered MINOR by inusrance company.
- Speeding 30 over to 49 over = 4 demerit points = also considered MINOR by most inusrance companies (some may consider this MAJOR).
If you get a ticket for 1 over, it will affect your insurance exactly the same as if you got a ticket for 29 over. The insurance companies do not care about the demerits and do not care about the speed.
SPEEDING - OFFICER LOWERED SPEED
Police in Ontario have the discretion to lower the speed on the ticket if they want. They do not have to do this, it is completely up to them. If they do lower the speed though, and you take it trial and you lose at the trial, the ticket will be raised back up to the higher speed.
- An officer pulls you over and says you were going 20 over, but drops the ticket to 15 over so it is 0 demerits instead of 3 demerits. If you go all the way to trial and then lose at the trial, you will be charged with the higher 20 over and have to pay the higher fine and get the 3 demerits. But also remember that you still have the right to a trial and the right to see the evidence/disclosure first. You can still choose to plead guilty and pay the lower 15 over ticket right up until the trial. And also remember that the 15 over 0 demerits can still cause your insurance to go up the same as if you got the 20 over 3 demerits ticket.
You're a novice driver. Your speed will be amended back up to 80 during a trial. It's 4 points. Since you're a novice driver under escalating sanctions, your license would be suspended for 30 days should you lose. So take that into consideration.
Yes your insurance could go up. The surcharge is not as bad as your at fault accident however.
Thanks guys! So I guess going to trial isn't a good option for me? I really don't want to get it bumped up back to 80. Doesn't seem like I have a chance (considering the cop used a radar and did a reduction), so I really don't want to risk that as I can't afford to lose my license.
Another question: I was reading an online source that claimed if you postpone your trial until after the renewal date of your insurance (my insurance expires August 11th), the charge will only be on your abstract for two years instead of three. Is this true? Is it worth a try?
You have nothing to lose by pleading Not Guilty, requesting a trial and requesting disclosure, as you can still plead guilty and pay the ticket anytime up to the trial. You have everything to gain because the officers notes contain what they will testify, and if something is missing in their notes, you might be able to get the charge dropped.
The speed can only be amended back up to 30 over IF you go to trial AND lose the trial.
Tickets stay on your record for three years from the date of CONVICTION, regardless of renewal date on your insurance.
I'd agree that you're free to plead not guilty, request disclosure, and there's no consequences up until a trial takes place. You can always plead guilty on your trial date if all hope is lost. The problem is a lot of people don't know when to pull the plug and will go through with a trial so they can list off their cockamamie irrelevant excuses for speeding. At that point, they would have been better off taking whatever deal they had, or in your case, avoiding suspension.
As for insurance, the conviction stays on your record for life. Abstracts come in many shapes and forms. Your insurance provider will use a 3 year abstract for current customers, which they get from the ministry for a fee. You can switch providers and they may very well ask you about your history beyond 3 years or they may even require a 5 year abstract to verify your driving experience. An officer may ask you on the side of the road about previous convictions, so just because it happened over 3 years ago doesn't make you "clean" so to speak. Your provider get this information from the ministry just like anyone else who wants to cough up the $12-$18 for one. Since it costs money, they aren't always running of the latest info. They may do it during renewals, when you insure a new car, adding or subtract drivers, accident, any significant event, or completely at random. So when your provide chooses to ding you with a surcharge is really luck of the draw.
30 over is 4 points but 20 over is still 3 points. How many points do you have because of accident?
jsherk wrote:30 over is 4 points but 20 over is still 3 points. How many points do you have because of accident?
In general, Accident's do not accumulate demerit points. If there was a charge laid with the accident (i.e. Careless, Following Too Closely, Failure to Turn to Avoid Accident, etc.) then the points from the charge would be on the record. But Accident's solely (no charge laid) do not accumulate demerit points.
bend wrote:I'd agree that you're free to plead not guilty, request disclosure, and there's no consequences up until a trial takes place. You can always plead guilty on your trial date if all hope is lost. The problem is a lot of people don't know when to pull the plug and will go through with a trial so they can list off their cockamamie irrelevant excuses for speeding. At that point, they would have been better off taking whatever deal they had, or in your case, avoiding suspension.
When would you say is the right time to "pull the plug"? And how do I go about requesting disclosure? I'm unfamiliar with the court process, so if you could describe the procedure of the trial I would really appreciate it!
As for my accident, I didn't get demerit points because I wasn't charged with anything, however it did increase my rate and I'm really worried that this ticket will affect it drastically. Insurance companies aren't exactly forgiving of young drivers like me.
chichi wrote:When would you say is the right time to "pull the plug"?
If you show up to your trial, they're ready to proceed, and you've got some flimsy defense. If you were a fully licensed G driver, it's a different story. The difference would be 1 demerit point and couple extra bucks. Your insurance wouldn't care either way between 20 or 30km over. They're going to hit you with the same surcharge percentage. They don't charge per km, so it's the same thing anyways. In that case, knock yourself out and have a full blown trial. However, you're a novice driver and a 30 day suspension may be a serious inconvenience to you. It's also the first strike on your novice license. If you find yourself in the same position again with a 4 or more demerit point conviction, it's 60 days. 3rd time and you lose your license for good, but you'll probably have your full G by that time.
chichi wrote:And how do I go about requesting disclosure? I'm unfamiliar with the court process, so if you could describe the procedure of the trial I would really appreciate it!
Request a trial then wait. You'll receive a "Notice of Trial" in the mail, which is just a piece of paper telling you when and where your court date is. From that point you can request disclosure. A disclosure request is just a letter or filled out form letting them know you want to see the evidence against you. In your case, it's likely to be the officers notes and 1 or 2 pages from the speed reading device manual if applicable. You can write your own letter, but usually the municipality also offers a form you can fill out. Toronto for example has the form available online along with the contact information depending on which court house you're attending. You can send it snail mail, fax it, or show up to the courthouse in person. If you send your own letter, you can ask for specific items. That way you can specifically ask for the notes and something like the testing pages from the manual (if a device was used). Since you seem rather clueless about the process, the standard form isn't a bad option. They're pretty good these days and they'll include stuff like testing pages on a first request where years ago it was almost certain you'd need to follow up with a second request.
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