2010 was the peak of traffic violations in Ontario. More than 700,000 traffic tickets were issued. In 2010 alone, the police department brought in more than $60 million in revenue from fines. Did you ever think about what options those 700,000 people had?
Whenever you receive a traffic ticket in Ontario, the first thing that comes to your mind is whether you should fight it or not. Many people simply pay the ticket and move on, but this is a mistake. You can reduce or even eliminate the fines and points against your licence by fighting a ticket.
This article will discuss why you should fight a traffic ticket and how to go about doing it. We will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to this topic.
Table of Contents
What is a Traffic Ticket Appeal?
If you are charged with a traffic offence in Ontario, you may be able to appeal your ticket through the Ontario Traffic Tickets Appeals process. This process allows you to go to the court office and have your case heard by a judge. The appeal court judge will then decide whether or not to dismiss the charges against you.
To be eligible for an appeal, you must first receive a Notice of Trial from the court. This notice will provide you with information on how to file your appeal and what documentation you will need to provide. Once you have filed your appeal, a trial date will be set for your hearing, and you will be required to attend court on that date.
At your hearing, the prosecutor will present their case against you, and you or your legal representative will be allowed to present your defence. The judge will then decide whether to dismiss the charges against you. If your appeal is successful, the charges against you will be dropped, and you will not have to pay any fines.
Laws of Fighting a Traffic Ticket in Ontario
The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario and Provincial Offences Act mentions the rules and regulations related to traffic ticket appeals. Plus, it is the right of every driver to contest a traffic ticket if they feel that the offense is not right.
Why is it Important to Fight Traffic Tickets in Ontario?
There are several reasons why fighting traffic tickets in Ontario is important. Some of these are:
- Save Penalties
- Avoid Employment Implications
- Keep a Clean Driving Record
- Avoid Surge in Insurance Rates
- Avoid Licence Suspensions
Let us see these reasons in a bit detail:
1. Save Penalties:
The penalties for traffic tickets in Ontario can be significant. For example, the fine for speeding is $120-$200, and the fine for careless driving is $400-$2000. If you are convicted of a traffic offence, you may also be required to pay a victim surcharge and court costs. By fighting your ticket, you may be able to avoid paying these costly fines.
2. Avoid Employment Implications:
If you get a traffic ticket, it can have implications beyond paying a fine. It could affect your employment status if your employer finds out. Some employers have policies in place that state employees who receive traffic tickets may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Fighting a traffic ticket can help you avoid these employer implications. Your record will stay clean by contesting the ticket and winning. In addition to that, your employer won’t find out about the incident.
3. Keep a Clean Driving Record:
A clean driving record is important for many reasons. It can help you avoid insurance rate increases, licence suspensions, and employment implications. While paying a traffic ticket may seem like the easiest way to handle the situation, fighting the ticket can help you keep a clean driving record. If you win your case, the points associated with the ticket will be removed from your record.
4. Avoid Surge in Insurance Rates:
In Ontario, traffic tickets can significantly increase your auto insurance rates. A single ticket can cause your rates to nearly double in some cases. That’s why it’s important to know how traffic tickets can affect your insurance rates and what you can do to minimize the impact.
There are two main ways traffic tickets can impact your insurance rates: through demerit points and the conviction itself. If you’re convicted of a moving violation, demerit points are added to your driving record. The more demerit points you have, the higher your insurance rates will be. A conviction for a major infraction (such as impaired driving) will significantly increase your rates, regardless of whether demerit points are levied.
You can avoid this surge in your insurance rates by fighting the ticket and having it dismissed. This is simply a matter of going to court and arguing your case before a judge in many cases.
5. Avoid Licence Suspensions:
One potential benefit is that your licence will not be suspended if you successfully defend your case.
In Ontario, drivers who accumulate too many demerit points can have their licences suspended. Demerit points are given for certain traffic offences, and the number of points depends on the severity of the offence. If you are convicted of a traffic offence, the demerit points will be added to your record.
However, if you are successful in having the charges against you withdrawn or dismissed, the demerit points will not be added to your record. This means that you will not have to worry about licence suspension.
On What Grounds Can You Challenge a Traffic Ticket?
If you receive a traffic ticket in the province of Ontario, you may wish to challenge it for several different reasons:
Absence of Proper Grounds:
One common ground for challenging a traffic ticket is if you believe that the officer who issued the ticket did not have proper grounds. This might be the case, for example, if the officer stopped your vehicle without reasonable suspicion that you had committed a traffic violation. If you can show that the officer did not have proper grounds to issue the ticket, then the ticket may be considered invalid.
Mistake in the Ticket:
Another ground for challenging a traffic ticket is if you believe that a mistake was made in issuing the ticket. This could include an error in the officer’s recording of your licence plate number or an incorrect description of your allegedly committed violation. If you can show that a mistake was made in issuing the ticket, then the ticket may be considered invalid.
Finally, you may also be able to challenge a traffic ticket based on extenuating circumstances. This might include cases where you can show that there was an emergency that prevented you from obeying the traffic laws or where you can demonstrate that complying with the ticket would cause you undue hardship. If you can establish extenuating circumstances, the court may be more likely to find it in your favour.
Remember, however, that simply contesting a traffic ticket does not guarantee that it will be dismissed. But if you do choose to contest a traffic ticket, knowing what grounds are available to you under Ontario law can help you better prepare your case.
Types of Traffic Tickets in Ontario
There are three different types of traffic tickets that you can receive in the province of Ontario.
- Offence Notice
- Parking Infraction Notice
What does each of these mean? Let’s see:
1. Offence Notice:
An offence notice is the least serious type of parking ticket. It is a notice given to drivers who have been observed violating the traffic rules. The police may give you an Offence Notice if they think you have committed a minor offence. For example, if you are caught speeding, running a red light, or not wearing a seatbelt, you may be given an Offence Notice.
You will also have to go to court if you wish to contest the Offence Notice. If you choose to plead guilty, you will likely have to pay an additional fine and may receive points on your licence.
2. Parking Infraction Notice:
A parking infraction notice is more serious than an offence notice and has a higher fine. If you’ve been issued a Parking Infraction Notice in Ontario, it means that you have committed a parking offence. The notice will outline the offence and the fine amount. You have the option to pay the fine or dispute the ticket.
If you choose to pay the fine, you can do so online, by mail, or in person at any Provincial Offences Court location. If you choose to dispute the ticket, you must do so within 15 days of receiving the notice. You can dispute the ticket by mail or in person at any Provincial Offences Court location.
A summons is the most serious type of parking ticket and has the highest set fine. A summons is issued when a driver commits a serious traffic offence or refuses to provide identification when requested by a police officer. If you’ve been issued a summons, you must appear in court on the date specified on the ticket.
If you have been issued a summons, you should speak to a lawyer, as you may be facing more severe penalties, such as a licence suspension or jail time.
Most Common Types of Tickets and Their Defence Strategy
The most common types of traffic tickets are:
- Speeding Ticket
- Distracted Driving Ticket
- Failure to Use Seat Belt
- Stop Sign or Traffic Signal Infraction
- Stunt Driving Ticket
Let us see these charges briefly and discuss a strategy to fight these charges.
1. Speeding Ticket:
A driver is issued a speeding ticket in Ontario if caught going above the speed limit. The fine amount depends on how fast the driver was going over the posted speed limit. Drivers can be charged with a criminal offence if they are speeding more than 50 km/h over the posted speed limit.
How To Fight:
The best way to fight a speeding ticket is to show that the officer made a mistake estimating your speed. This can be done by presenting evidence that you were not speeding, such as GPS data from your car or photos of the speed limit signs at the time and location of the alleged offence.
Some of the pieces of evidence that you may want to present to the court include the officer’s police report, witness statements, and any video or photographic evidence you have.
If you can successfully argue that the officer who issued your ticket did not have proper grounds to do so, the court may throw out the charges against you. However, if you are unsuccessful in this argument, the court will likely convict you of the offence and impose a fine.
2. Distracted Driving Ticket:
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.
How To Fight:
The best way to fight a distracted driving ticket is to prove that you were not actually distracted. You can do this by providing evidence that shows you were not using your phone or other electronic devices when you were pulled over. This could include showing the officer your phone records or GPS data. The ticket will likely be dismissed if you can prove that you were not distracted.
If you cannot prove that you were not distracted, there are still a few options. One is to plead guilty with an explanation, which means that you would admit to the offence but provide a reason for why it occurred. This explanation could be that you were only using your phone for a short period, and it was not affecting your driving.
3. Failure to Use Seat Belt:
In Ontario, the penalty for not wearing a seat belt is a fine between $200 and $1000. The same penalty applies to anyone who fails to ensure that their passenger is properly secured.
If you are stopped by police and found not wearing a seat belt, they may give you a ticket or charge you with an offence. Offenders will also receive two demerit points on their driver’s licence.
How To Fight:
There are a few different ways to fight a seat belt ticket in Ontario. The first thing you can do is show the officer that you were wearing your seatbelt at the time of the incident. This can be done by providing photographic evidence or simply telling the officer what happened.
If you were not wearing your seatbelt, you can still try to fight the ticket by arguing that you had a good reason for not doing so. For example, if you were driving in a rural area where there are no seat belt laws, you may get away with not having to pay the fine. You can also present the medical exemption form if you have a valid reason for not wearing a seatbelt.
4. Stunt Driving Ticket:
Stunt driving is any prohibited manoeuvre that could endanger the public, and it can lead to some pretty severe penalties. In Ontario, stunt driving is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, a jail term of up to six months, a licence suspension of up to two years, and seven demerit points.
How To Fight:
Creating reasonable doubt might be the best strategy to counter strict liability offences. There are a few different ways to fight stunt driving charges. One is to challenge the evidence against you. This can be difficult, as police officers are usually quite good at documenting dangerous driving behaviour.
Another way to fight stunt driving charges is to argue that your actions didn’t constitute stunt driving. This can be tricky, as the definition of stunt driving is fairly broad.
You can also try to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. In some cases, prosecutors may be willing to reduce stunt driving charges to a less serious offence if you’re willing to plead guilty.
What are the Possible Downsides of Fighting a Traffic Ticket in Ontario Court?
The potential downsides of fighting a traffic ticket in Ontario court include:
1. Added Cost:
The cost of hiring a lawyer to help you fight your traffic ticket can be expensive. Hiring a lawyer is not the only cost of fighting a traffic ticket. You may also have to pay for things like expert witnesses and court fees.
If you’re not able to win your case, you could end up paying more money in fines and fees than if you had just accepted the ticket. It’s important to weigh the costs and benefits of fighting a traffic ticket before deciding whether or not to go to court.
2. Case May Continue for Long:
The process of fighting a traffic ticket can take a long time. It can take months or even years to resolve a case. This is especially true if you hire a lawyer and your case goes to trial.
You may have to miss work or other important commitments to attend court dates during this time. You may also have to deal with the stress of having a pending case.
3. Fine Might Increase:
If you’re found guilty of the traffic offence, the court may order you to pay a higher fine than the original ticket. The court may also order you to pay other penalties, such as demerit points or a licence suspension.
Before you decide to fight a traffic ticket, it’s important to consider all of the potential downsides.
Fighting a traffic ticket in Ontario can be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. However, it may be worth it if you’re able to get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a less serious offence. You should weigh the costs and benefits of fighting a traffic ticket before deciding. Some firms provide a free consultation in this regard, one must seek legal advice from them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to fight a ticket in Ontario?
The cost of fighting a traffic ticket in Ontario will vary depending on the severity of the infraction and whether or not you choose to hire a lawyer. For relatively minor offences, such as speeding, you may be able to represent yourself in court and argue for a reduced fine.
However, more serious offenses will require the assistance of a lawyer and will likely result in higher legal fees. In addition to legal fees, you may also have to pay fines if you are convicted of the offence.
Is it worth fighting a traffic ticket in Ontario court?
The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the severity of the infraction, your driving record, and ability to prove innocence. If you feel confident that you can beat the ticket in court, it may be worth fighting it.
In most cases, it is worth fighting a traffic ticket in court. The potential consequences of paying the ticket are significant and can last long after paying the initial fine.
Fighting a traffic ticket also gives you the opportunity to clear your name and avoid having a criminal record. In some cases, it may be possible to have the charges against you withdrawn entirely. If you are found guilty, there may be opportunities to negotiate a more lenient sentence.
Of course, there are no guarantees when it comes to fighting a traffic ticket in court. But if you believe you have grounds to contest the ticket, it is always worth your time and effort to do so.
What things you must check before a court date is given?
There are a few things you must check in Ontario before a court date is given:
1. Accessibility accommodation for persons with disabilities: You can ask the court to make special arrangements to accommodate your needs if you have a disability. For example, you might need an interpreter or materials in Braille.
2. Meet with the Prosecutor: You can meet with the prosecutor to discuss your case. This is called an “informal resolution conference.” The prosecutor might agree to withdraw the charges or change them to a less severe offence.
3. Request Disclosure: You have the right to get copies of the evidence the police have against you. This is called “disclosure.” The prosecutor must give you disclosure at least seven days before your first court appearance.
4. Language services: If English is not your first language, you may be able to get free interpretation services from the court.
5. Subpoena: If you want a witness to come to court, you may need to subpoena the witness.
What is the significance of court system delays?
Fighting a traffic ticket can be frustrating for those who are eager to get their day in court, but there are some silver linings to these delays.
For one, court hearing delays give you more time to prepare your case. If you are facing serious charges, you will want to take the time to gather evidence and build a strong defence. You can ensure that you have everything you need to present a compelling case to the judge or jury with more time.
In addition, a court hearing delay means that your traffic ticket will also be delayed from going on your driving record. This means you will not have to worry about your insurance rates going up or having your license suspended for accumulating too many points.
So, court hearing delays may not be ideal, but they can work in your favour if you know how to make the most of the extra time.