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Speeding tickets 101

Seacil the Legal Seagull’s feathers are ruffled again! Seacil, who is LISNS’ mascot, recently got a speeding ticket. Seacil was ticketed for speeding by 31 km/hour or more over the posted limit.

Like the almost 11,000 folks who got a speeding ticket in the Halifax area in 2012*, Seacil was not pleased to learn that the penalties are pretty stiff.  Penalties for speeding depend on how much you are over the speed limit. It also matters where it happened. For example, fines are doubled if you are in a school zone or temporary roadwork area.

Penalties for a regular speeding ticket (first offence) are:

  • $227.41 fine and 2 points if you are 1-15 km/hour over the limit;
  • $284.91 fine and 3 points if you are 16-30 km/hour over the limit; and
  • $399.91 fine and 4 points if you are 31 km/hour or more over the limit.

Most speeding convictions also result in a license suspension – usually 7 days for a first offence and longer for subsequent offences. Seacil was flying along at a great pace, so if convicted faces a $399.91 fine, 4 points on his driving record, and a 7 day license suspension. Seacil’s insurance premiums may also go up. At least he won’t get a criminal record, as traffic tickets are just provincial summary (less serious) offences, and are not criminal.

Here are some things to think about if you get a speeding ticket like Seacil did:

  • Read the ticket, front and back;
  • Read the wording of the section of the law you’ve been ticketed under. You’ll find the Motor Vehicle Act online at nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/motorv.htm;
  • Don’t miss the due date. Before the due date on the ticket, you must choose whether you’ll just pay the fine, which means you are pleading guilty and are convicted, or go to Provincial Court and fill out a form to plead not guilty and have a trial, or plead guilty but speak to the court about the penalty;
  • Ask for disclosure. For speeding tickets disclosure usually includes:
  • the police officer’s copy of the ticket, with the officer’s notes about things like weather and traffic conditions, and use of a speed detection device like Lidar or Radar;
  • calibration certificate for the speed detection device;
  • certificate showing the officer’s training in using the device; and
  • maintenance record for the device.

You get disclosure from the Crown prosecutor’s office. For example, in Halifax you get disclosure from Halifax Regional Municipality Legal Services, and you must ask for disclosure in writing. Contact your nearest Provincial Court (1-877-445-4012) for the address of your local Crown office that deals with traffic tickets;

  • Before you plead guilty or not guilty to a ticket, make sure you understand what all the penalties will be, including fine amount, points, any license suspension, and any impact on your insurance;
  • Unlike a criminal charge, for a speeding ticket the Crown prosecutor does not have to prove that you had a ‘guilty mind’ and intended to speed. At a trial they just have to prove the act itself (eg. Seacil was going 90km/hour where the posted limit was 50 km/hr), along with basics like where and when it happened, and who did it. The Crown must show proof beyond a reasonable doubt. There are limited defences;
  • Fine payments – you can ask for time to pay the fine, and can also ask to do any license suspension at a time that is more convenient for you.

Finally, remember that speeding increases the risk of crashes, injury and death. So, please slow down, and drive safely.

For more information about speeding tickets, and other summary offence tickets:

This page gives legal information only.  If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer.
March 2013

*Source of Halifax speeding ticket map: CBC News Nova Scotia

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