There are numerous charges under the Highway Traffic Act, all dealing with the operation of your vehicle. Unlike criminal charges which apply no matter where the offence took place, the Highway Traffic Act only applies on roads, highways, streets and other public access throughways.
A possible defence to a Highway Traffic Act charge would therefore be that the driving took place on private property or off of the road ways covered by the Act.
Most Highway Traffic Act convictions result in fines ordered by the Court. The more serious offences, such as driving under suspension, fail to remain at the scene of an accident and careless driving, may result in jail sentences. However, a jail sentence is usually reserved for those cases where the offender has prior convictions for the same offence and/or where the result of the driving offence is very serious (an accident with injuries). It is also open to a judge to suspend a person's driver's license if the Act allows for it.
The Ministry of Transportation will impose penalties over and above what is imposed by the Court. This includes demerit points and probationary effects. Not all offences will result in these penalties, but where they are imposed, the Court has no say in the matter. Demerit points and probationary terms are controlled absolutely by the Ministry and are automatic where the situation calls for them.
It is important to remember that any driving offence conviction can have an effect on your insurance rates. Insurance companies increase rates based on convictions, and are not limited to those offences that have demerit points.