Speed camera tickets in Ontario

Written by Seamus McKale

Reviewed by Daniel Mirkovic

Updated June 20, 2024 | Published May 29, 2024

Automated speed enforcement is a program that uses cameras and speed-measuring radar to issue speeding tickets to drivers automatically. In Ontario, speed cameras are administered at the municipal level.

Here, we’ll explain how speed cameras work in Ontario, what to do if you’re issued a ticket, and how speeding tickets impact your car insurance policy. Keep in mind that other provinces may treat speed cameras and tickets differently.

Speed camera set up next to a brick road with autumn trees in the background

The important points

  • Speed cameras are devices that automatically record the speed of passing vehicles, allowing an officer to later issue a speeding ticket.
  • In Ontario, vehicle owners who receive an automated speed camera ticket can pay the fine, or attempt to challenge the ticket via early resolution or a trial.
  • Speed camera tickets do not result in licence demerit points or car insurance rate increases.

How do speed cameras work in Ontario?

Speed cameras are part of the automated speed enforcement (ASE) program in Ontario. They’re part camera, part radar gun, and part data storage device. When a vehicle drives by, the speed camera takes a photo of the car (including the licence plate) and records the speed at which it was travelling.

In Ontario, speed cameras are generally set up in areas where traffic safety is particularly important, like school zones or slow residential streets. Each speed camera will be marked by a sign:

The Municipal Speed Camera in Use sign as used in Ontario

The cameras don’t issue tickets themselves. Instead, a Provincial Offenses Officer will review the captured images and issue speeding tickets to vehicles recorded driving over the speed limit. The ticket will be sent via mail to the registered owner of each vehicle, based on the licence plate number. Generally, drivers receive a ticket within a couple of weeks of the recorded speeding.

Automated speed enforcement tickets

ASE tickets come with a fine. The deadline by which the fine must be paid, and how to pay it, are listed on the ticket. In cases of excessive speeding (50+ km/h over the limit), it will come with a summons to court instead of a fine. Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act sets speeding camera fines, with escalating penalties based on the recorded speed.1

Recorded speed

Fine

1–19 km/h over posted limit

$5.00 per km/h over limit

20–29 km/h over posted limit

$7.50 per km/h over limit

30–49 km/h over posted limit

$12.00 per km/h over limit

50+ km/h over posted limit

Court summons (no automatic fine)

In addition to the fine, there may be added fees, including court costs and a victim fine surcharge (VFS). The VFS is an additional cost that escalates based on the amount of the fine.2 These surcharges go towards assisting victims of crime. For most speeding tickets, the VFS will be under $25.

ASE tickets are issued to the registered owner of a vehicle, even if someone else is driving at the time of the offense. The cameras have no way of identifying the driver. So, if someone borrows your car and gets a speed camera ticket, it’s still your responsibility to ensure it gets paid. You can ask the driver to reimburse you for the fine, but that’s something you’d have to handle yourself.

Speed camera tickets vs. officer-issued speeding tickets

Speeding camera tickets aren’t the same as speeding tickets issued directly by a police officer. The main difference between the two is whether the driver is identified or not. When an officer pulls over a speeding car, they’ll check the ID of the driver and positively identify them. When they write a ticket, it will specify that driver.

Speed cameras, on the other hand, do not identify who’s driving at the time. The ticket will be issued to the vehicle’s registered owner.

Accordingly, officer-issued tickets come with licence demerit points (and insurance increases), whereas speeding tickets do not. Fines for speeding in Ontario are the same whether they come from a speed camera or a police officer.3

Fighting speed camera tickets in Ontario

There are many instances in which someone would wish to challenge a speeding ticket. Vehicle owners who receive a speed camera ticket in Ontario are allowed to fight the ticket. Since ASE programs are administered by towns and cities, the exact process may differ depending on where you live.

For example, starting in late 2024, drivers in Toronto will challenge speed camera tickets through the city’s administrative penalty system — just like they would parking tickets.4 Other municipalities in Ontario are considering the same change.5

In areas without such a system, there are three options for resolving a speed camera ticket:

  1. Plead guilty (pay the fine by the deadline).
  2. Request an early resolution meeting.
  3. Go to trial.

Regardless of which option you choose, you must submit a response to the ticket by the specified deadline.

An early resolution meeting is a meeting with a prosecutor to discuss a resolution of the case outside of a court setting. Sometimes, the outcome of an early resolution meeting is a reduced fine, though this isn’t a sure thing. Keep in mind that you’ll likely wait many months to receive a meeting date. If you choose this option, you still have the right to go to trial afterwards if you don’t reach a resolution.

If you choose to go to trial, there will be a full examination of the evidence of the case with a judge present. This can lead to a reduction in the fine or full exoneration, but again, that is not a certainty. Additionally, you’ll have to attend the trial. It’s not a requirement to hire legal representation, but if you do, expect to pay hundreds of dollars at a minimum. You should expect to wait many months for a trial date if you choose this path.6

Is it worth fighting a speed camera ticket in Ontario?

It is very rarely worth fighting speed camera tickets. For one, the fines are relatively low, unless you were really speeding. It takes time to fight a speeding ticket; if you value your time, it’s likely better to just pay it.

The chances of overturning or reducing a speed camera fine are low. It’s not unheard of, but you need to demonstrate that your vehicle wasn’t speeding despite photo and radar evidence that it was. Speed cameras are maintained and calibrated regularly. Unfortunately, “someone else was driving” isn’t a defense, as vehicle owners (not drivers) are liable for speed camera tickets.

The money you pay is the only penalty for a speed camera ticket, so the best course of action is usually to pay the fine and drive slower next time.

Car insurance considerations

Speed camera tickets won’t increase your car insurance rates. Speed cameras don’t identify drivers, so you don’t receive any demerit points on your driver’s licence, either. Just like red light cameras and other automated systems, the registered owner of the vehicle must pay the fine, but there are typically no other penalties.

This is different from when a police officer directly issues a speeding ticket. The officer will positively identify the driver, which means they can receive demerit points and any resulting car insurance rate increases.

Commonly asked questions

Which cities use speed cameras in Ontario?

Speed cameras are implemented as part of the Automated Speed Enforcement program on a city-by-city basis. Municipalities that have adopted the ASE program include Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Ottawa, Pickering, Hamilton, Waterloo, London, and the York, Peel, and Durham regions.7

Speed camera locations aren’t a secret; you can look up the specific locations of speed cameras on your city’s website. On the road, you’ll see signs denoting the location of each camera.

Can you get speed camera tickets in a rental vehicle?

When you rent a car, the rental agreement usually stipulates that the rental agency has the right to pass on any tolls, fines, or other charges the driver incurs while they have the vehicle. That includes tickets from speed cameras.

If you get a speed camera in a rental car, the rental company will receive the ticket. They’ll likely send you an invoice for the cost of the ticket some time after that, which may also include an administration fee. When you rent a car, it’s worth checking the agreement to see how tickets, tolls, or fines will be handled.

Are speed cameras legal in Ontario?

Ontario’s provincial government discontinued the use of photo radar in the province in 1995.8 However, in 2017, amendments to the Highway Traffic Act allowed the use of automated speed enforcement in certain high-risk areas, such as school zones. Now, speed cameras are permitted in these areas provided they are identified by signs.

Sources

  1. Ontario Courts. “Schedule 43.” ontario.ca, 15 Sep. 2023, www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/provincial-offences/set-fines/set-fines-i/schedule-43/.
  2. Provincial Offenses Act. “O. Reg. 161/00: VICTIM FINE SURCHARGES.” ontario.ca, 29 Mar. 2016, www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/000161.
  3. Automated Speed Enforcement. “Frequently asked Questions.” aseontario.com, www.aseontario.com/faq. Accessed 24 May 2024.
  4. CTV News Toronto. “Toronto takes speed camera tickets out of court.” CTV News, 7 Feb. 2024, ctvnews.ca/video/c2863358-toronto-takes-speed-camera-tickets-out-of-court.
  5. Crawford, Blair. “City wants its own penalty system for parking and automated camera tickets.” Ottawa Citizen, 7 May 2024, ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/city-wants-its-own-penalty-system-for-parking-and-automated-camera-tickets.
  6. The City of Windsor. “Frequently Asked Questions.” citywindsor.ca, www.citywindsor.ca/city-hall/legal-services/provincial-offences/frequently-asked-questions. Accessed 24 May 2024.
  7. Automated Speed Enforcement. “ASE Communities.” aseontario.com, www.aseontario.com/ase-communities. Accessed 24 May 2024.
  8. CBC Archives. “The politics that brought photo radar to a halt in Ontario in 1995.” CBC News, 5 Jul. 2019, cbc.ca/archives/the-politics-that-brought-photo-radar-to-a-halt-in-ontario-in-1995-1.5185054.

Want to learn more? Visit our Car insurance resource centre for dozens of helpful articles to guide you through the complexities of car insurance. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized car insurance can be.

About the expert: Daniel Mirkovic

A co-founder of Square One with 25 years of experience in the insurance industry, Daniel was previously vice president of the insurance and travel divisions at the British Columbia Automobile Association. Daniel has a bachelor of commerce and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He holds a Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) designation and a general insurance license level 3 in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

Computer

Get a free quote

Get a personalized online home insurance quote in just 5 minutes and see how much money you can save by switching to Square One.

Get an online quote now

People

Protect your family

Even when you take precautions, accidents can happen. Home insurance is one way to protect your family against financial losses from accidents. And, home insurance can start from as little as $12/month.

Learn more