It sounded like a simple story, at first.
Editor ‘Arris and I were talking at the office on a tea-and-crumpets break and thought we should do a write-up on the cost of speeding across Canada. We were looking to find out which provinces were the most expensive to speed in, and which provinces had the most punishing demerits system.
Sounds simple, right? You’d think this sort of information would be available in about 30 seconds of searching government websites … and you’d be wrong.
It literally took days on the phone to track down all this information, days of hassling lazy government employees who didn’t want to give me answers. Thankfully, police traffic officers seemed more than willing to give me the numbers I wanted, even if their counterparts in the provincial government services weren’t usually interested.
Only two provincial government websites provided a clear picture of what it would cost to speed, for each kilometre over the speed limit – Quebec and Newfoundland. Go figure.
While the information for other provinces may be out there, readily accessible, I wasn’t able to find it, and I spent a lot of time looking for it. Information like this should prove a valuable deterrent to dangerous driving, but for some reason, provinces don’t seem to make it easy to find.
Probably the most ridiculous situation I ran into was when I called Access Nova Scotia to find the cost of speeding tickets in that province; I assumed that, since speeders paid their fines there, the employees would know the cost.
That wasn’t the case, though; instead, they directed me to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. Fair enough.
Once they’d transferred me, I asked the man on the other end of the phone if he could tell me the cost of speeding fines in Nova Scotia. The government worker hemmed and hawed, then told me I’d have to send in a registered letter asking for that information.
I cut him off there, asking incredulously why this information wasn’t available to everyone over the internet. He said he didn’t have that information at his fingertips, and could I please send a registered letter.
I hung up on him and called the Amherst RCMP detachment, who were only too happy to help me out.
My experience in New Brunswick was pretty similar; government employees transferred my call in a circle, from department to department, until I gave up in frustration and called the Rothesay police.
But, whining aside, here’s what I found.
There’s a wide difference in speeding tickets across the country. Some provinces have hefty fines for even the most minor infractions, while others don’t seem to take it as seriously.
Also, some provinces, like Quebec and Ontario, have fines pro-rated for every kilometre you exceed the speed limit, and some, like New Brunswick and British Columbia, have brackets – whether you’re 12 or 15 kilometres over the speed limit, you’ll pay the same.
As well, the demerits system doesn’t work the same in every province. In most provinces, you lose demerit points, but others – PEI and Quebec, for example – you accumulate demerit points. In some provinces with public insurance (like Manitoba, B.C. and Saskatchewan), the insurance board runs the demerit system, not the department of transportation or public safety.
The demerits you get for speeding are also widely varied; in B.C., you get three demerits for every speeding ticket, no matter how excessive the speed, and you get a total of 15 points before you lose your licence, with a warning at 12.
In other provinces, the demerits are scaled to your speeding, just like ticket amounts. In PEI, for instance, you get three demerits for going 1-29 kilometres over the speed limit, but six demerits for speeding 30 kilometres over the speed limit. Point totals are different by province as well – if you get three tickets for driving one kilometre over the speed limit in PEI in two years (nine demerits), you could lose your license, as opposed to 15 demerits in B.C.
In other words, every province is doing their own thing, and comparing them to each other is pretty much comparing apples and oranges. But, here’s a rough look at the dollar value of low-end speeding tickets.
Remember, these numbers are the best answers we could get; there are so many court costs and other fines that can be added or subtracted seemingly at the Crown’s whim, that some numbers may not jibe with your experience. If so, please don’t get mad and yell at us – we’re doing the best we can with the information we’ve been provided.
First of all – the cheapest place to speed in Canada has to be Saskatchewan. Normally, speeders in Saskatchewan are normally assessed a $110 fine, plus $1 per kilometre over, plus court costs, which is higher than several other provinces. You’ll pay a different fine for 11 over than you would for 12 over, and so on. That means their tickets are in line with the national average for speeding citations.
But get this – if you’re speeding below 10 over, there’s no fine listed in the book. We’re not sure if that means speeding below 10 over is free in Saskatchewan, but it should be – you’ve got to cross that flat prairie somehow. Not, of course, that we’d recommend breaking traffic laws . Besides, speeding 5 kilometres over the limit is like kissing your sister – nothing to get too worked up about, unless you’re from Arkansas.
Amongst the other provinces, Quebec and Ontario are just about tied for having the lowest-priced tickets.
At $40, Ontario has the cheapest speeding ticket we know of in Canada. Quebec’s in the same ballpark, charging speeders $15 plus $10 for every five kilometres over the speed limit, for speeding 1-20 kilometres over the speed limit.
Alberta, Newfoundland and PEI will cost you a bit more, but low-end speeding tickets still aren’t going to bankrupt you. Manitoba’s fines are also fairly low at the bottom end of the range.
British Columbia, then New Brunswick, raise the costs a fair bit for speeding tickets, with their stepped fines. Check out the graph below for a comparison.
You don’t hear a lot of talk about outrageous tickets in Nova Scotia, but they have the highest-priced tickets for low-speed offenses in Canada. If you’re nabbed for speeding 1 kilometre over the speed limit in Nova Scotia, you’ll pay $227.41.
There are other factors at play here beside raw numbers, though; speed fines might seem draconian in certain provinces, but if enforcement isn’t heavy, then riders have little to worry about.
Provinces with photo radar (Quebec, Alberta) might have lower fines, but you’re more likely to get a ticket there, than in Maritime provinces like Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, with long highways where you rarely see traffic patrols.*
Remember, too, that in most provinces, fines double for speeding in construction zones or school zones. In other provinces, like Newfoundland, speeding tickets tickets don’t cost much on your first offense, but repeat offenders will see their ticket costs rise drastically. To make things more convoluted, other provinces allow speeders to settle their fines out of court and save money.
Ticket prices rise in each province, depending how fast you’re going, but again, there’s plenty of discrepancy here. Overall, Manitoba consistently has the highest-priced tickets, with Nova Scotia close behind. In everywhere but Quebec, you can expect to pay a lot more for speeding once you’re nabbed for about 20 kilometres over the limit.
Our graph only goes to 49 kilometres over the speed limit, because after that, things get crazy. In Ontario, if you’re caught going 50 over, you can get slapped with a fine ranging from $2000 to $10,000 for stunting. In Nova Scotia, 50 over also gets you a stunting charge, good for a $2412.41 ticket. In other provinces where automatic stunting charges aren’t written into the lawbooks, you can still have your vehicle seized and stunting or unsafe driving charges laid at an officer’s discretion.
So, what if you don’t speed? If you’re able to consistently stick to our fearless leaders’ speed limits, you should be able to avoid tickets, right?
Well, sure. As long as you don’t ride two abreast, coast downhill in neutral or shift gears as you cross a railway track while riding through Newfoundland. Don’t try “coasting down a grade illegally” in B.C. either, and don’t ride two abreast in New Brunswick (feel free to do so in B.C., however!).
Want to ride through Nova Scotia on your Harley-Davidson, or Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom? Make sure your seat height is above 70 centimetres (about 27 inches), otherwise your bike doesn’t meet the legal requirements of a motorcycle – perhaps you could register it as a scooter?
Want to speed through the back roads of PEI? Don’t try it in front of a game warden – like most provinces, PEI allows game wardens to bust you for traffic violations, in their downtime from chasing poachers.
To sum it all up – motorcyclists have long said traffic tickets were nothing more than a speed tax handed down by The Man. We’re here to say you can lower that tax rate, by changing your province – but he’ll still catch up to you somehow.
*Not that you’d want to speed excessively on the wobble-inducing, frost-heaved, cracked roads in this province anyway – ‘Arris.
Wondering how all those different speeding offences across Canada add up by Province? Well, here’s a handy chart so you can plan just how fast you can go on your next trans-Canada trip.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.