Spend or Struggle? When to fight your speeding ticket

Ryan Gillis got his first speeding ticket in 2011, and he says he knows now he got off  easy.

“It was my first time, so the officer reduced it from speeding 37 km to 15 km and I didn’t get any demerit points,” he said.

The twenty-one-year-old university student said he thought of contesting the ticket, but figured it was best to pay up.

That was in 2011.He got a second ticket two years later. This time he had to pay the full fine of $250 for speeding on the highway.

Gillis still thinks he is pretty lucky because his car insurance has not gone up because of the two tickets But he has friends who weren’t so lucky and that has made him think twice about speeding.

“One of my friends now pays seven thousand a year for his car insurance.  If I ever get another ticket, I can expect my insurance to shoot up too, ” he said.

A driver who is caught driving more than fifteen kilometers over the speeding limit can be charged demerit points.  In turn, most insurance companies will charge their clients’ more for their auto insurance.

Each insurance company decides what the increase will be on premiums. A single ticket can boost a premium by as much as 22 percent, according to a survey conducted by insurance.com.

An Ontario driver with three demerit points can expect an annual increase of about $300 for the next five years.

An insurance website that allows you to compare quotes for auto insurance reflects this.

Two identical profiles were made on kanetix.ca, one one driver had received a speeding ticket, the other had not.  The quotes for the driver without the speeding ticket ranged from $1,500 to $2,700 a year, while the driver with a ticket was quoted a minimum premium of $2,500 a year

When a person gets a speeding ticket, they have three options. The first is to admit guilt and pay the fine, according to OPP officer Sergeant Pierre Chamberland.

The second is to plead guilty with explanations. Chamberland said in his experience  the justice of the peace will reduce the fine.

The third option is to go to court and fight the ticket.  This is when a lot of people turn to traffic firms. These legal firms  provide clients with paralegals who will fight the infraction, says paralegal Samantha Kupch.

“You will pay, let’s say, two or three hundred dollars for our services. But the costs of having your insurance raised because of a speeding ticket can be much more than that,” she says.

She says her firm has a 98 percent success rate, but Sergeant says speeders shouldn’t assume legal aid will get rid of those demerit points.

“Speaking from my experience? I only charge people who I know are guilty. So therefore, 99 percent of the time, I got convictions.”

Hiring a traffic firm will end up costing more than the ticket itself, but demerit points are very likely to increase car insurance premiums. It’s up to the driver to decide whether it’s better to pay a speeding ticket or fight it.