Fighting A Traffic Ticket
While we don’t doubt that all the drivers reading the Gary’s Automotive blog are skilled experts, there will come a time when you slip up, and someone will notice. Getting a traffic ticket can be a huge burden, both to your finances and to your record. Gary’s Automotive is here to help ensure that you are armed with the knowledge it takes to get through the process of a fighting traffic ticket, either by challenging it or by paying it.
Fight or Flight
If you choose to simply pay your ticket, then the process will be explained to you. Many people think that paying a simple traffic ticket is the more responsible choice, since it keeps the already over worked court systems free from dealing with minor charges, and it allows you to take responsibility for your actions. This may be the case, but some would also argue that many infractions and fines are simply put in place to be a revenue stream for the Government. In many cases, the most common piece of advice is to fight the ticket no matter what. There are a number of ways this is possible. Gary’s is here to help you separate fact from fiction in order to help you know your rights as a citizen.
So You Got A Ticket
The first piece of advice for dealing with a traffic ticket? Don’t get one. Follow the rules of the road, watch your speed, and stay safe. If you do manage to get a ticket and decide you want to challenge it, then you have to think about how you want to do so. Are you looking to completely avoid all charges, or simply reduce your fines? In many instances, simply arriving in court and explaining your situation can result in a lowered fine. If you’re looking to avoid any charges altogether, then you’ll have to put in a little more work.
To start, what you will want to do is get your court date. The ticket will have the address of your local courthouse, so we suggest going there to book your date. In Ottawa, there are courthouses in Nepean, Downtown, and in Orleans. Once you have your date, you’ll want to file for disclosure. Keep in mind, avoid writing your phone number down at all costs, instead opting to give a physical address as your primary form of communication. You’ll soon see why!
Filing for disclosure means that any information the issuing officer noted is shared with you, and this is somewhere where you can potentially have the ticket dropped. For example, if an officer writes down the wrong color of vehicle, wrong type of vehicle, wrong license plate number, or any other incorrect information (to an extent, if your name is Kaitlyn and the officer spells it Kaitlin, you’re still looking at a fine), you can ask the officer to confirm this in court. Once the officer has confirmed the incorrect details, you may reference your vehicle’s registration with the correct details, which can help to discredit the officer as a witness. As mentioned, in getting your disclosure, you’ll want to avoid using your phone number. As part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you have the right to a speedy trial. By avoiding modern technology within the law, you can increase the amount of time the process takes. If the process end up taking too long, or what can be seen as an “unreasonable delay”, then the ticket may be dropped. Assuming that you have your disclosure and there is nothing you can do to legally avoid a court date (purposely stalling a date will make the “right to a speedy trial” argument invalid) then you must be prepared for your day in court.
One huge misconception is that if you are given a ticket by an officer, and they don’t show up to court, you’re automatically off the hook. The legal system allows for Officers to miss a day in court, provided they have a good reason. If they do, your court date would simply be moved to when the officer can attend. Even if the officer does not show, the Justice of the Peace can still decide to simply adjourn the court to a later date. It is possible that the officer will not show, and the Justice of the Peace will simply withdraw the fines against you. In this case, you’ve successfully fought a traffic ticket.
You would be wise to prepare as if the issuing officer will be in court. This means reviewing your disclosure, seeking any CCTV footage that may exhonerate you, or finding a witness. It may seem like the time to call a traffic ticket fighting company, but this isn’t wise. Many of these companies consider a “win” anything that gets you a lower fine. This means they will often plead guilty, even if no officer shows up. They get paid based on the win, and the courts still get to charge you with a lesser fine. Not only that, but an infraction still goes on your record. The easiest and most cost effective way to succeed in fighting a traffic ticket is to do so yourself.
Fight The Power
After you get a ticket, give yourself some time to cool off and reflect. If you got a $70 ticket, and it would take you more than 7 hours of missed work to go through the process of fighting it to avoid a fine, you really aren’t ahead anything. If the fine itself is all that you are concerned about, it may be cheaper to just pay it rather than spend the time and lost wages to fight it. If it’s something that you don’t want on your record, then the steps detailed here can help you avoid the ticket. Remember, if you know you were in the wrong, try not to waste the courts and everyone’s time by protesting a ticket you deserve. As mentioned at the start of this article, the best method for dealing with a traffic ticket is to not get one in the first place!