Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign

Region: Ontario Answer # 523

When a driver goes through a red light or a stop sign without stopping they have committed an offence under the Highway Traffic Act.

The prosecutor must prove that the light was red at the instant you entered the intersection. A car enters an intersection when any part of it crosses over the pedestrian walkway area of the intersection.

There are two common defences for fighting a ticket for failing to stop at a red light or a stop sign. First, you may argue that you did in fact stop at the stop sign, or that the light was not red when you entered the intersection. These types of arguments are difficult to prove, unless you have credible witnesses or other evidence. If you make this argument, however, and the police officer does not show up in court to give evidence, you have a very good chance of winning.

Second, you may also defend yourself by showing that there is some irregularity that caused the stop sign or the light to be misleading. For example, if the sign was not visible because of snow or a tree, you may be able to use this as a defence. However, it is difficult to defend yourself using this argument unless you have credible evidence, such as a photograph from the date and time of the alleged offence.


The penalty for failing to stop is a fine and three demerit points. If you fight the ticket and are convicted, the fine can be set between $200 and $1,000. A conviction for failing to stop at a red light or stop sign will remain on your record for three years. If you fail to stop for a school bus the penalty is a fine and six demerit points. For more information regarding the rules of the road and driver safety, contact the Ministry of Transportation.

Get help

If you have a criminal record because of a criminal driving offence (or any other criminal charge), and wish to erase your record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

For legal advice and representation to fight a traffic ticket, contact our preferred Highway Traffic paralegals, Nicola (Nick) Giannantonio Legal Services.

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