What Are the Penalties For Disobeying a Traffic Sign?
A Failing to Obey a Sign Charge Is a Relatively Minor Charge That May Still Pose As a Significant Cause For Concern Whereas Upon a Conviction the Fine Ranges From $60 to $1,000 Plus Victim Surcharge and Court Cost. A Guilty Driver Will Also Receive Two (2) Demerit Points and May Also Receive Insurance Rates Increases,
Understanding the Charge of Failing to Obey a Sign Including the Penalties Applicable Upon Conviction
The law requiring drivers to obey road signs helps to ensure the smooth flow of traffic, helps to provide predictability for all drivers who are each sharing the road while each having a unique destination, and quite simply helps to reduce traffic problems including accidents.
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.
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.
As stated above, the general penalty prescribed by section 214(1) of the Highway Traffic Act imposes a fine ranging from sixty ($60) dollars to one thousand ($1,000) dollars for disobeying a prescribed traffic sign. Furthermore, a statutory victim surcharge plus court cost will also apply as well as the driver receiving two demerit points and being subjected to a potential insurance rate increase.
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.
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.