A Guide to Avoiding Beginner Tickets in Montreal

  • Graphic Jennifer Aedy

So, you’re new to Montreal. You’re from Sherbrooke or Saguenay or Saskatoon or some other place, and you’re super excited to be alone in the big city!

You’ve got a job set up, you might be taking a couple classes and you’ve got a great new place to live (and the rent—so cheap. You’ve got a water closet? So French!). You can’t wait to hit those fresh rues and find yourself in a brand new city.

But wait a second. There are cops literally everywhere, and they know exactly how excited, and ignorant, you and your new Montrealer friends can be.

And they will ticket you. And it sucks.

So, to help educate all you fresh-faced new entrees to our fine city, here is a simple list of the most common tickets doled out by Montreal’s Finest. These tickets are so common for a few reasons—namely, because

Montreal is constantly inundated with new people who have no idea about these laws, but also because of the ease with which cops can hand them out.

So, stay safe, be mindful and don’t let the SPVM drain you of your precious cash flow.

TURNSTILE HOPPING

“No person shall travel or attempt to travel on the transit system without paying the appropriate fare as provided in Section 6 of By-law R-105,” according to the Société de Transport de Montréal.

So, obviously, this is just straight up illegal, and there’s no way around that. However, if you’re like me, and you’re from a place like New York City where the Metro map is just so darn large that it’s pretty normalized to at least occasionally hop a turnstile, you might make the mistake of believing you can easily get away with it.

Let me tell you now, friends; Montreal is no New York City. This is a town where metros actually close (I know, right?), and they’re pretty heavily monitored by the STM, Montreal’s own Metro-Police, who are only too excited at the chance to stick you with a silly ticket for around $230—which is about 100 times more expensive than buying a metro pass.

So just buy a metro pass.

PUBLIC DRINKING/PUBLIC URINATION

Now, this is a weird one. Unlike a lot of places in the world, it’s actually sometimes totally legal to drink in public. The thing is, there are specific ways to drink publicly that make it legal. No, don’t just throw that tallboy in a paper bag, that doesn’t even work in America and public drinking won’t work here. No, what makes it legal is where you are, and what you’re doing.

Literally, it’s legal to drink in parks, when you have “substantial food.” So, essentially, you can bring alcohol along with your picnic, because, I imagine, a picnicking francophone once got into a screaming argument with a cop over his right to drunkenly picnic, or something like that.

But anyway, enjoy your alcohol in public, just make sure it’s in a park, and you at least have a nice sandwich or something with you.

On public urination, just don’t do that. It’s pretty gross.

Or at least, be cool about it.

PROTESTING

A favourite pastime of Montrealers, especially for younger folks around town, you’ll certainly find yourself at least a single protest this year, even if you’re not too politically-minded. Mostly occurring during spring (actually known as Protest Season), protests are a really important aspect of democracy, that everyone should take part in as much as possible.

That being said, you’re probably going to get maced.

Maced, and kettled, and maybe beat up, and definitely ticketed, if you’re not careful.

In short, when you’re protesting, as soon as cops start closing in, make sure to find your way out of large groups, and stay the hell away from dead ends.

If you’re really interested, look into The Link’s various pieces on the topics, which include numerous tips and tricks for serious protesting.

PARKING

So, most people don’t move here with cars. The reason is that owning an automobile in this city is expensive, and, unless you have a parking space, usually parking in the wrong spot is an easy way to get ticketed.

Keep in mind the fact that most neighbourhoods in Montreal only allow permit parking. No matter where you live, you probably need to contact Ville du Montreal for a permit in order to park on the street. Otherwise, you’ll be ticketed.

During the winter, make sure you pay heed to the telltale sirens of the street cleaners. If you hear them, you better move your car right quick, or you’ll be towed.

BIKES

Biking is a huge part of being a Montreal resident, and probably the most popular form of transportation within the city. For that reason, about twice a year (fall and spring), the police have field days ticketing hundreds of bikers for minor infractions. So, keep in mind: don’t wear headphones, don’t run stop signs or red lights. Don’t ride on the sidewalk, ever, or the reserve lane, and always stay as right as possible, unless you’re making a turn.

And though it’s not required, you really should wear a helmet.

JAYWALKING (DOWNTOWN)

I know, I can’t believe this is real either. Like, what high-falutin’ royalty of the streets has never perpendicularly crossed an empty street in the middle of the night, without chancing to glance at what the street light robot might care to say? In Montreal, ticketing for jaywalking is a favourite avenue for police. So, when you’re downtown, just make sure to not jaywalk, or a cop will probably stop you and give you a pretty dumb ticket.

So that’s essentially it. Keep these things in mind, and you should be able to avoid a ton of fines in your first year and save yourself a ton of money.

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