info suisse Summer 2015
Switzerland-Canada Comparisons
June 2015

Fines for Speeding in Canada and in Switzerland

(Kurt Schl├Ąpfer)
A few years ago, the following headline made international news: A foreign driver in Switzerland exceeded the legal speed limit of 120 km/h by 170 km/h. As speeding fines in Switzerland are calculated based on the income of the motorist, it was reported that the driver faced a penalty of CHF 1,080,000. This is the highest possible fine a Swiss court can impose. in the end, however, the penalty was reduced to CHF 27,000 – not high enough to make international news again. But this incident prompted the author to compare how speeding tickets are handled in Canada and in Switzerland.      

Canada

Speed limits in Canada are generally as follows:



During the energy crisis of the 1970s, speed limits were lowered in Ontario from 113 km/h (70 miles/h) to 100 km/h. despite advances in fuel economy and safety equipment, speed limits have not changed. data collected by the Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation indicates that only 6.7 percent of fatal traffic accidents have excessive speed listed as a factor. In Ontario, highway speed limits are so low that most of the population disregards the posted limits. There is a growing popular movement in most of the provinces to increase the current speed limits. 

Fines for speeding in Canada vary by province. An example: 10 km/h over the posted limit cost $ 40 in Ontario and $ 227 in Quebec. Fines are doubled in work zones, but in Alberta and Ontario this only applies if workers are actually present. In Ontario speeders can face fines of up to $ 10,000. The highest fine ever levied against a speeder in Canada was given to a motorcyclist for going 264 km/h in Alberta. The fine amounted to $ 12,000.

Paying a fine on a speeding ticket is an automatic plea of guilty to the speeding offence. if the motorist pleads not guilty, a trial date is set and both, the motorist and the ticketing officer, are required to attend. However, if the officer fails to show up for the hearing, the charge will be dismissed. According to people involved in such cases, it is not unusual that the ticket officer fails to appear, meaning that it could be worth pleading not guilty and risking the court appearance.

In Ontario, speeding tickets entail demerit points, for instance:
  • 16 – 29 km/h over the limit = 3 points (minor infraction)
  • 30 – 49 km/h over the limit = 4 points (major infraction)

The accumulation of six demerit points results in a warning letter. At nine points, the driver is scheduled a mandatory interview, and if he fails to attend this meeting, his licence may be automatically suspended.

Switzerland

The speed limit of 50 km/h was introduced 1984 in urban areas, followed by a speed limit of 120 km/h on expressways one year later. Today the speed limits in Switzerland are generally as follows:



Switzerland is known for imposing hefty fines for speeding drivers. Speeding fines depend on two factors: the speed above the posted limit and the place of the offence. For example, exceeding the speed limit by 10 km/h on expressways leads to a fine of CHF 60, but to CHF 120 in urban areas. if the speed is 20 km/h over the limit in urban areas, a district attorney sets the fine, which may amount to more than CHF 600 plus an administrative fee of about CHF 300, plus a warning letter. 

If the speed exceeds 30 km/h in urban areas or 40 km/h on expressways, fines become even more expensive, because they are based on the income of the driver. For example, if a driver has a net salary (after all deductions according to his tax declaration) of CHF 6,000 per month, the fine for 30 km/h over the limit in urban areas is CHF 10,000. in addition, a penalty fee of CHF 2,000, a court fee of more than CHF 500 and a license suspension of three months will incur. The fine of CHF 10,000, however, is conditional and only payable in case of a second traffic offence. In any case, the offence will be entered into the register of criminal convictions.



Depending on the wealth of the driver, the judge is free to set a higher penalty fee. The world record holder of the most expensive speeding ticket is a diplomat from the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, who was caught driving his Ferrari at 137 km/h through an urban area in Eastern Switzerland, which was posted with a speed limit of 50 km/h. The penalty was calculated as a percentage of the motorist’s wealth, which was assessed to be 24 million CHF by the court. The speeding ticket totalled nearly CHF 300,000.


SCCC Corporate Members
  • Zurich Canada
  • Custom Spring Corporate
  • Rolex Canada Ltd.
  • Lette LLP
  • Roche Canada
  • Swiss Business Hub
  • Endress + Hauser Canada Ltd
  • Laderach (Canada) Inc.
  • FOSFOR
  • Swissmar Ltd.
  • Switzerland Tourism
  • Swiss International Air Lines Ltd.
  • Habib Canadian Bank  (Subsidiary of Habib Bank AG Zurich)