A typical scenario…
It's an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon in June, and you actually got off of work early for a change. You're all packed, the car is gassed up and ready to go, and you hit Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Highway, north of Vancouver. You've got some friends waiting up at Brunswick Beach, and you can't wait to get the weekend started.
As the highway unrolls before you, you take in the beautiful shoreline of Howe Bay and crank up the radio. You roll the window down and feel the ocean breeze on your face as you pick up speed. Not a car in sight, the sun shining brightly and you feel like you are the only one in this picturesque world. Except for the RCMP car that just passed you going the other way. WTF!
Sure enough, he flips the car around and catches up to you quickly as you pull over to the shoulder. Looks like you're getting a speeding ticket and your lovely drive along the coast is screwed. Do you want to know what happens next? Then read on.
The MVA, ICBC and RCMP all have something to say about your speeding ticket
When you get a speeding ticket in British Columbia, you're going to be dealing with some official-sounding Canadian initialisms like the ones above, so let's see who we're dealing with:
- MVA is the Motor Vehicle Act and governs the roadways across British Columbia. They make the rules which we'll get to in a minute.
- ICBC is the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and is the organization that regulates and provides auto insurance across the province. They make even more rules and, along with the Provincial Court, work together to make your wallet a little lighter.
- RCMP is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and they're the organization that pulled you out of “la la land” and gave you the speeding ticket. (No, they had a car, not a horse.)
Now that you know who's who let's see how they affect what comes next.
You had me at “License and registration, please”
Here's what you need to know right away about your speeding ticket. Paying the violation ticket, in full or in part, is considered a guilty plea to the offence described on the front of the speeding ticket.
The total amount includes the fine plus a victim surcharge. (If you're wondering who the “victim” is in these cases, you're not alone. All we know is that it's going to feel like it's you!) Understand that you'll get penalty points with your speeding ticket and they will be added to your record as a conviction.
Here's the good news: For most tickets, you can pay your ticket within 30 days to have it reduced by $25. Or you can dispute the offence within the same 30 days by bringing your ticket in person to a driver licensing office or provincial court registry.
Here's the bad news: When you start adding up all the fines and other costs of a speeding ticket in British Columbia, in the most severe situations, you could end up paying $28,800 or more!
No, that's not a typo. Keep reading to find out how the complex world of traffic violations in British Columbia can cost you more than your last three cars combined.
Speeding in British Columbia: A story of penalties, points, and premiums
Let's start with some speeding violations basics and the consequences. The following speeding offences all carry a three-point penalty on a driver's record.
- Speed in/outside municipality – $138-$196
- Speed against highway sign – $138-$196
- Speed against area sign – $138-$196
- Speed against municipal sign – $138-$196
- Speed on municipal line – $138
- Speed in a school zone – $196-$253
- Speed in a playground zone – $196-$253
If not otherwise posted, the speed limit inside a municipality is 50km/h and outside it is 80km/h. In child zones (schools and playgrounds) the limit is 30km/h during the appropriate hours. At this lower end of the scale, the financial consequences of speeding, and the corresponding points seem somewhat reasonable.
But throw in a little excess here and some aggravating factors there, and you could be looking at some high-dollar fines and fees.
A great place to start to show how quickly costs can escalate is with excessive speeding. Excessive speeding is defined in the Motor Vehicle Act as driving at a speed greater than 40 km/h over the speed limit.
- Exceeding the driving limit by more than 40 km/h— $368 fine plus three penalty points on your driving record
- Exceeding the driving limit by more than 60 km/h — $483 fine plus three penalty points on your driving record and you'll have your car Impounded.
- First offence – $368 fine plus a seven-day impoundment, towing fees, and storage costs which can easily cost several hundred more dollars.
- Second offence within a two-year period – standard fine plus a 30-day impoundment, towing, and storage which can cost around $700
- Third offence within a two-year period – standard fine plus a 60-day impoundment, towing, and storage which can cost in excess of $1200
“Show me the money!”
Still thinking about that $28,800 we mentioned earlier? Hang tight; we're getting there.
Driver Risk Premium
For some offences such as excessive speeding and distracted driving, a Driver Risk Premium may apply in addition to fines and points. You'll pay a Driver Risk Premium if you rack up even one of the following offences:
- One or more driving-related Criminal Code convictions. Think of offences like impaired driving or negligence.
- One or more 10-point Motor Vehicle Act convictions such as driving without a license.
- One or more excessive speeding convictions.
- Two or more roadside suspensions/prohibitions
- Two or more convictions over a three-year period for using an electronic device while driving
Here's how the Driver Risk Premium (DRP) is calculated:
- Each year just prior to your assessment date (which is usually your date of birth) your driving record is reviewed for offences for the previous three years.
- You receive only one DRP invoice per year, but each driving offence may create DRP billings more frequently, depending on the rest of your driving record in a three-year period.
The Driver Risk Premium (DRP), like Driver Penalty Points (DPP), is separate from ICBC insurance premiums. They are billed even if you don't own or insure a vehicle.
Driver Penalty Point Premium
Driver Penalty Points are the collective points for various driving offences. Every year, your driving record is reviewed for the previous 12-month period, known as an “assessment period.”
- If you compile more than three points on your driving record during the assessment period, you'll pay a Driver Penalty Point premium.
- The DPP premium ranges from $210 for four points to $28,800 (there it is!) for 50 or more points.
Some offences or convictions, such as excessive speeding, may apply to both the Driver Penalty Point program and the Driver Risk Premium. You will be billed once per year under the program that results in the higher premium.
Hopefully, your speeding ticket is a one-time offence, and you can pay it off without breaking the bank. Just keep in mind that in British Columbia, the faster you go, and the more often you speed, the more you pay!