Disobey Amber Light

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Highway Traffic Act section 144 (15)

Disobey Amber LightWhen the driver approaches an intersection and the traffic signal turns from green to amber the driver shall:

  • stop the vehicle
    • where it is safe to do so
      • otherwise the driver may proceed with caution

When approaching an intersection where there are traffic lights, the driver must stop their vehicle when signalled to do so.

*Most amber lights in the Province of Ontario are set at a minimum 4 seconds long, but can be longer.

A vehicle traveling at 50km/h travels 44 feet every second.

Therefore where a driver is traveling on a straight road and the light turns amber in front of them they should have at least 176 feet to come to a stop.


Proceeding with Caution

The determination of whether or not it is safe to proceed is based upon the drivers opinion as to:

  • the road conditions of the time
  • the speed and vehicle considerations
    • .e.g driving a loaded truck
  • traffic conditions
  • driver experience

Although a police officer may “feel or believe” the driver could have stopped, it is the judge who decides not the officer.

Where the officer gives evidence that the driver accelerated prior to entering the intersection, the court may consider this a factor against the driver.

Related Charges: Disobey Red Light


Insurance Implications

A conviction on the drivers abstract for disobey amber light can affect insurance rates.

Insurance companies may perceive that the driver is driving dangerously through intersections at at more risk of being in an accident, increasing rate accordingly.

Once the driver is convicted of a traffic ticket, the court sends a notice to the Ministry of Transportation.

Upon receiving the record of conviction, the Ministry of Transportation adds the court conviction to the driving record.


Driving Records/Abstracts

Driving abstracts are available to anyone who has the drivers licence number for a fee payable to the Ministry of Transportation.

Therefore the way the insurance company will finds out about the ticket is;


Insurance Companies

Each insurance company is a private company with their own set of rules and standards.

Some insurance companies will not increase insurance rates for one ticket and others will.

The problem is drivers don’t know what the insurance company is going to do, and if asked, there is a chance they will increase it due to the inquiry.

Drivers need to keep their driving records clear.


Fines

The fine for Disobey Amber Light is $180.00.


Summons to Appear in Court

Where a police officer issues a summons to appear or the driver disputes the ticket, the Justice of the Peace (JP) can increase the fine up to $500.00.  This rarely happens for this offence but it is possible.

The out of court fine is actually, $150.00 but the court adds a $30.00 Victim Fine Surcharge to the ticket.


What is the Victim Fine Surcharge?

  • The provincial government adds a victim fine surcharge (VFS) to every non-parking fine imposed under the Provincial Offences Act.
    • It is deposited into a special fund to help victims of crime.
  • The amount of the VFS is usually 20 per cent of the imposed fine.
    • For example, a $100 fine would result in a $20 surcharge.
    • Fines over $1,000 carry a surcharge of 25 per cent.

Penalties

A conviction for disobeying an amber light has the following penalties:


Demerit Points

Disobey amber light tickets have 3 demerit points.


Demerit Point Interviews

If you have to attend an interview, you will get a letter (Notice of Interview) to notify you of the time, date and location of the meeting. If you do not attend your licence could be suspended.

The fee for a demerit point interview is $50 and must be paid in person at any Service Ontario Centre.

You can pay the fee when you receive the Notice of Interview or within 10 business days of attending the interview.

Failure to pay the interview fee will result in the cancellation of your driver’s licence.


Suspensions

Drivers are not suspended for a conviction for disobeying an amber light.


Novice Drivers

Class G1 and Class G2 drivers are suspended for 30 days for violating the demerit point restrictions for novice drivers


Unpaid Fines

Any driver maybe suspended where any fine goes into default.  Where the licence is suspended for an unpaid fine, the licence will be suspended until the payment is made to the court.


Demerit Point Suspensions

The accumulation of demerit points can result in a licence suspension.


Legal Definition

Highway Traffic Act s.144.15 – Amber light

Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular amber indication and facing the indication shall:

  • stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely,
  • otherwise he or she may proceed with caution.

Amber arrow

(16) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing an amber arrow indication only or in combination with another indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely, otherwise he or she may proceed with caution to follow the direction shown by the amber arrow indication.

Flashing amber

(17) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a flashing circular amber indication and facing the indication may proceed with caution.
Traffic control signals and pedestrian control signals

144 (1) In this section,

“driver” includes an operator of a street car;

“emergency vehicle” means,

  • a vehicle while used by a person in the lawful performance of his or her duties as a police officer,
    • on which a siren is continuously sounding and from which intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light are visible in all directions, or
  • either of the following vehicles, on which a siren is continuously sounding and from which intermittent flashes of red light are visible in all directions:
    • a fire department vehicle while proceeding to a fire or responding to,
    • but not while returning from, a fire alarm or other emergency call, or
  • an ambulance while responding to an emergency call or
    • being used to transport a patient or
    • injured person in an emergency situation;

“intersection” includes any portion of a highway indicated by markings on the surface of the roadway as a crossing place for pedestrians;

“pedestrian” includes a person in a wheelchair;

“vehicle” includes a street car.

Where to stop — intersection

A driver who is directed by a traffic control signal erected at an intersection to stop his or her vehicle shall stop,

  • at the sign or roadway marking indicating where the stop is to be made;
  • if there is no sign or marking, immediately before entering the nearest crosswalk; or
  • if there is no sign, marking or crosswalk, immediately before entering the intersection.

Where to stop — non-intersection

A driver who is directed by a traffic control signal erected at a location other than at an intersection to stop his or her vehicle shall stop,

  • at the sign or roadway marking indicating where the stop is to be made;
  • if there is no sign or marking, immediately before entering the nearest crosswalk; or
  • if there is no sign, marking or crosswalk, not less than five metres before the nearest traffic control signal.

Yielding to pedestrians

(7) When under this section a driver is permitted to proceed, the driver shall yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully within a crosswalk.

Yielding to traffic

(8) When under this section a driver is permitted to proceed, he or she shall yield the right of way to traffic lawfully using an intersection or, where traffic control signals are erected where a private road or driveway meets a highway, lawfully using the area controlled by the traffic control signals.

Signs

(9) The provisions of this section are subject to any sign, as prescribed by the regulations, forbidding a left turn, right turn, through movement or combination thereof that is posted at an intersection and every driver shall obey every such sign.

Obeying lane lights

(10) Every driver shall obey every traffic control signal that applies to the lane that he or she is in and, for greater certainty, where both a traffic control signal that is not a bicycle traffic control signal and a bicycle traffic control signal apply to the same lane,

  • a person riding or operating a bicycle in that lane shall obey the bicycle traffic control signal; and
  • a person driving a vehicle other than a bicycle in that lane shall obey the traffic control signal that is not a bicycle traffic control signal.

Exception

(11) Despite subsection (10), a driver of a road service vehicle in a left-turn lane may proceed through the intersection without turning to the left if the movement can be safely made, there is showing a circular green or green arrow indication for the through traffic movement and the driver,

  • where the applicable left-turn traffic control signal is showing a circular red indication, first brings the vehicle to a stop; and
  • where the operation of any other vehicle may be affected, indicates his or her intention to proceed through the intersection without turning to the left by giving a plainly visible signal to the driver or operator of the other vehicle.

Green light

(12) A driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular green indication and facing the indication may proceed forward or turn left or right unless otherwise directed.

Flashing green

(13) A driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular flashing green indication or a solid or flashing left turn green arrow indication in conjunction with a circular green indication and facing the indication may, despite subsection 141 (5), proceed forward or turn left or right unless otherwise directed.

Green arrow

(14) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing one or more green arrow indications only or in combination with a circular red or circular amber indication and facing the indication may proceed only to follow the direction shown by the arrow.

Case Law

R. v. Embaye, 2006 SKQB 187 (CanLII)
2006-04-20 | 11 pages | cited by 1 document
disobey amber light — vehicle — disqualification — left-hand turn — letter
[…] (a) that he did disobey an amber traffic light contrary to s. 65(3) (a) of The Highway Traffic Act, S.S. 1986, c. H‑3.1 , as amended; and […] (b) The Highway Traffic Justice erred in holding that the Appellant was guilty of disobeying the amber traffic light on the basis that the damage to the vehicles involved in the accident had damage consistent with liability on the part of the Appellant. […] He concluded that the accused had disobeyed an amber light at the time the collision occurred and that the accused’s driver’s licence had been suspended prior to the accident. […]


R. v. Sonmor, 2002 SKQB 60 (CanLII)
2002-02-20 | 8 pages | cited by 1 document
ticket — speed — traffic — brother — disobey amber light
[…] The appellant was convicted of the traffic offence of disobeying an amber traffic light and was fined the sum of $125.00. […] From this I completed the ticket, which I served up on him and having charged him with disobey an amber light at that intersection. […] I have found that the Crown has proved beyond a reasonable doubt you did disobey an amber light, not a red light, an amber light on this occasion and I find you guilty as charged. . . . […]


R. v. Copeman, 2008 SKQB 438 (CanLII)
2008-10-29 | 3 pages | cited by 1 document
supported by the evidence — amber light — set aside a conviction — testimony — light
[…] [1] This is an appeal by the appellant, Kenneth Copeman (“appellant”) from his conviction before Traffic Court Judge R. Pelletier of a traffic court offence (disobey a red light) at the intersection of 7th Avenue and Albert Street, in the City of Regina. […] and the police officer’s testimony it — I’m getting the — I get the picture that you are approaching this intersection and, yes, the light turns amber and you decide — you — as soon as that light turned amber you elected and you’ve testified to that and the Court — I don’t think the Court misinterpreted that in any way. […] Now, the difference here is whether the light was red or amber but nevertheless you made the conscious decision to go through and probably for — and, you know, in most instances for a very good reason. […]