How Serious is a Traffic Ticket For Disobeying a Sign?

Upon Conviction For Disobeying a Sign, Penalties Faced By the Driver Include a Fine Ranging From $60 to $1,000 Plus the Statutory Victim Surcharge and Court Cost. The Convicted Driver Also Receives Two (2) Demerit Points and May Be Subjected to Insurance Rate Consequences.

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A Helpful Guide For How to Determine the Applicable Penalties For Failure to Obey a Sign

Various Traffic Signs Obeying signs helps to ensure the smooth flow of traffic upon the roads that would otherwise lead to traffic congestion, helps to ensure that all drivers can reasonably predict the movement of other vehicles that are using the road, and helps to reduce the possibility of traffic accidents.

The Law

When a driver disobeys a road sign, a serious safety hazard may arise with risks to the driver, other motorists, pedestrians, among other users of the road; and accordingly, such a concern is addressed by section 182(2) of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8 which makes disobeying a road sign an offence. The penalty applicable to a driver deemed guilty of violating section 182(2) are prescribed by section 214(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, being the general penalty section, whereas section 182(2) is actually silent, meaning absent, about the penalty details. Within section 182(2) and section 214(1) of the Highway Traffic Act it is specifically stated:

Deposit of snow on roadway

182 (2) Every driver or operator of a vehicle or street car shall obey the instructions or directions indicated on any sign so erected.

General penalty

214 (1) Every person who contravenes this Act or any regulation is guilty of an offence and on conviction, where a penalty for the contravention is not otherwise provided for herein, is liable to a fine of not less than $60 and not more than $1,000.

Accordingly, per the general penalty stated within section 214(1) as is shown above, the fine for failing to obey a sign is in a range from sixty ($60) dollars to one thousand ($1,000) dollars.  Additional penalties will include the statutory victim surcharge plus court cost as well as two demerit points and potential increase to insurance rates.

Defence Strategy

A disobey sign charge, even as a relatively minor charge, can pose serious concerns, such as circumstances where the charge arises from an accident where people were injured and civil liability issues may be involved.  Additional concern may especially arise due to a history of previous convictions that result in the driver charged already being on the cusp of a licence suspension or significant insurance rate increase.

Despite the presumption that it will be easy for the prosecutor to prove allegations that a driver failed to obey a sign, there are ways to defend the charge.

During the examination of witnesses, meaning questioning, phase of a court trial, questioning the witness for the prosecution, who is usually a police officer who laid the charge, questions can be posed which help to diminish the strength of the testimony by the police officer.  Questions that can help diminish the strength of testimony may include asking the police officer, or other witness:

  • To state how far away the police officer was when the alleged observations were made;
  • To state where the sign was located;
  • To state whether there were any impediments to reading the sign;
  • To state how far away the allegedly disobeyed sign was visible from;
  • To state details of other signs that were in proximity that might cause confusion;
  • To state other facts that may be relevant as may be determined upon review of the evidence, among other things.

Accordingly, putting up a strong fight, by knowing what to ask during witness examinations as well as knowing what to avoid asking, may be wise and necessary.

Summary Comment

Upon a finding of guilt for a disobey sign charge, a driver may be fined up to $1,000 plus victim surcharge and court costs.  A driver will also receive two (2) demerit points and may endure insurance rate hikes.


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