According to the Traffic Safety Act, a highway includes any thoroughfare, street, road, trail, avenue, parkway, driveway, viaduct, lane, alley, square, bridge, causeway, trestle way, or any other place that the public is ordinarily permitted to use with their vehicles.
This offence sections captures all speeding conduct, from going 5km over the speed limit, to going +50km over the speed limit. Note that although the offence is the same, both the fine amounts, the demerit points, and other consequences, can very dramatically.
Even if you are following the posted speed limit, you can receive a violation for driving at an unreasonable rate of speed if you are driving at a rate of speed which is unreasonable when considering factors such as the road conditions, the weather, the amount of traffic, and the mechanical condition of the vehicle.
The relevant provision can be found under the Traffic Safety Act’s Use of Highway and Rules of the Road Regulation:
Investigation of Speeding Violations in Calgary
An investigation of an allegation of speeding in Calgary is typically started by either a complaint from a witness that you are speeding, or the police observing you speeding.
With over 1,900 police officers, the Calgary Police Service has considerable manpower to devote to such investigations. It is the third largest municipal police force in Canada. The Calgary Police Service Traffic Unit is most likely to investigate. In the rural areas surrounding Calgary, the RCMP and Sheriffs have authority to investigate these offences.
Penalties for Speeding Violations in Calgary
Photo-radar speeding tickets and other “registered owner” tickets are the least serious. They are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle; not to the driver. You will not receive any demerits points. Other than the fines associated with the ticket, you will probably not have any consequences to your driving record or your insurance rates.
If you are pulled over by a police officer, the consequences are very different.
The penalties for a speeding conviction when you receive an in-person speeding ticket as the driver of the vehicle can be much more serious than photo radar, including:
- Up to 6 demerit points; depending on how much faster you are alleged to have been driving over the speed limit;
- Up to $2000 fine;
- Up to 3 month driving suspension;
- Up to 6 months in jail for the most serious of cases.
You will know that the ticket is particularly serious if it’s pink in colour, or if does not include a fine amount on it. These tickets typically require a mandatory court appearance, and you can expect the prosecutor to be asking for a significant penalty.
If you are accused of driving at more than 50km/h over the limit, the prosecutors in Alberta typically ask for a 30-day driving suspension. While there is no automatic rule about this, the courts in most places in Alberta impose the 30-day suspension the Crown prosecutors seek.
Secondary consequences for a speeding conviction can include an increase to insurance premiums, and insurance liability if an accident has occurred.
Defending Speeding Violations in Calgary
What are the best defences to speeding violations in Calgary?
With potentially serious penalties, you need a serious defence.
Typically, the best defences for a speeding violation are:
- Factual Innocence: This is usually the strongest defence. Your driving should not lead to a conviction if you were not speeding.
- Violation of Constitutional Rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If they were not followed to the letter by the police, it will aid your defence.
- Necessity: You may be able to avoid a conviction if you can show that you were speeding out of necessity because were fleeing from danger or rushing someone to get medical help.
- Technical Defence: While the Crown Prosecutor can ask the Court to amend minor errors on your ticket, some fatal technical errors may result in your charges being dropped. For example, your ticket might be withdrawn if it does not have a date, if the police officer did not sign it, or if your name is spelled incorrectly. Moreover, the police only have six months from the date of the offence to charge you with speeding.
Unlike for a criminal offence under the Criminal Code, the Crown does not have to prove that you intended to speed. The only thing that the Crown needs to prove is that you were speeding. However, the burden of proof remains on the prosecution. This means that there are many successful defence strategies that our experienced defence lawyers can take, including those outlined above.
Even if the charges proceed and you are found guilty, a good defence can greatly reduce the severity of the consequences, including reducing the fine, the demerits, or the driving suspension.
What can a lawyer do to help me defend against speeding violations in Calgary?
Our lawyers will thoroughly review your disclosure package and determine the best strategy for your specific case. We will then negotiate with the Crown to have your ticket withdrawn or reduced to something with less serious consequences for you.
If your speeding ticket cannot be resolved, we will represent you at trial where we will call evidence, cross-examine any police and civilian witnesses, and make submissions to the Court.
Lawyers are licensed and supervised by the Law Society of Alberta, governed by a provincial Code of Conduct, and have a duty to act in your best interest. “Traffic agents” do not need a law degree and do not typically have any training. Our lawyers, in contrast, have extensive legal training and are subject to significant oversight.
If we raise violations of your Charter rights as a defence, your case will likely be transferred from Traffic Court into Provincial Criminal Court where the case will be argued in front of a Judge. Our lawyers are far better equipped to do so than “traffic agents”.
For more information about the difference between traffic agents and lawyers, and which one may be best suited for your case, please read our article entitled Traffic Offences & Violations Calgary.
What can a lawyer do to help me if I missed my court date for speeding violations in Calgary?
If you received a yellow ticket with a specified fine listed on it and you fail to attend court on the date listed on your ticket, you will likely be convicted in absence. You will receive a Notice of Conviction in the mail at the address listed on your driver’s license, which will indicate the fine amount that you owe as well as how long you have to pay the fine.
If you had a reasonable excuse for failing to appear in person or to send an agent to appear on your behalf on your court date, one our lawyers can make an application on your behalf to “set aside” the conviction.
This application must be made within 15 days of the date the conviction first comes to your attention. It is therefore crucial that you call our office immediately and speak to one of our traffic lawyers if you were convicted of speeding in your absence.
If you received a red ticket which indicates that your attendance is required on a specific court date, and you fail to attend court on the date listed on your ticket, a warrant will likely be issued for your arrest. One of our lawyers can make an application on your behalf to have your file brought back into court and to have your warrant vacated, without you having to attend court or turn yourself in.
It is therefore crucial that you call our office immediately and speak to one of our traffic lawyers if you missed your court appearance for a speeding violation.
How can I help defend my speeding violation in Calgary?
If you have been charged with speeding in Calgary, the following can help your lawyer build a strong defence:
- Making a statement about what happened;
- Collecting and maintaining all documents and records about the event; and
- Gathering any photographic evidence that you may have.
As soon as you are released from police custody, start to gather any information that may be of use to your lawyer immediately.
If you are truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:
These steps can be very helpful to building an effective defence (or convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).
How can I fight my speeding violation in Calgary if the court is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Traffic Court is still operating. The only difference is that people do not need to attend court. If you have a court appearance scheduled during the closure, you must contact Traffic Court by telephone, e-mail, or fax to advise them of what you intend to do with your ticket.
You have the option of:
- not disputing your ticket but ask for some time to pay the fine,
- adjourn your matter, or
- plead not guilty and set a trial date.
If you do not contact the court by your scheduled court date, you may be convicted in absence or a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
Where Can I pay a Fine for a Speeding Conviction in Calgary?
If you are convicted of speeding and have to pay a fine, you can pay your fine in person, through the mail, or online.
- In-person: You can make a full or partial payment at a registry agent or at any Alberta Provincial Court location.
- Mail: You can make a full payment only through the mail by sending your ticket and payment to:
Provincial Ticket Production Centre
601 5th Street SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 5P7
Payment must be by cheque or money order made out to the Government of Alberta, with your ticket number written on the back.
- Online: You can pay your fine online. You will need your ticket number and a valid debit or credit card.
As discussed, speeding violations can be very fact-specific, and a conviction can lead to serious consequences.
We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of traffic lawyers to conduct a thorough review of your situation so that we can tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.