What Are the Penalties For Disobeying a Traffic 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 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.

The Law

Whereas failing to obey a sign often poses a serious safety hazard for other motorists, pedestrians, among others, the law explicitly addresses the concern as per section 182(2) of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8. For those drivers found guilty of violating section 182(2), the details for the penalty upon conviction are prescribed within section 214(1) of the Highway Traffic Act 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.

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.

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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