Speeding Ticket Basics

Posted on Leave a comment

Speeding Ticket Basics

A Comprehensive Guide to Fighting Your Traffic Ticket!

 

Getting a Speeding Ticket

Anna MacDonald the accountant watches helplessly as her budget begins to get unbalanced again. Like many people, Anna just wants to avoid spending extra time and money on small daily hassles if she doesn’t have to. But, Anna was ticketed for speeding 31 km/hour or more over the posted limit.

Like the 26,000 folks who got a speeding ticket in Ontario in 2016, she was not pleased to learn how costly the immediate penalties are. Penalties for speeding depend on how many kilometers per hour you were going over the speed limit. It also matters where it happened. For example, fines are doubled if you are in a school zone or a community safety zone, which can be located almost anywhere the city would like them to be.

The fines for a regular speeding ticket (first offence) are:

  • $47.50 or less if you are 1-19 km/h over the limit;
  • $75.00 – $108.75 if you are 20-29 km/h over the limit;
  • $180.00 – $294.00 if you are 30-49 km/h over the limit, and;
  • No set fine – mandatory court appearance for 50km/h or more over the limit.

The demerit point penalties for the same offence are:

  • 3 points if you are 16-29 km/h over the limit;
  • 4 points if you are 30-49 km/h over the limit, and;
  • 6 points if you are 50 km/h or more over the limit.

 

Hidden Penalties

But these are only the visible penalties. Hidden penalties include insurance rate increases of up to 100%, a bad driving record which will influence how other offences are treated, and the possibility of licence suspension. For example, a new full G driver will have their license suspended for 60 days if they accumulate 9 or more points, while G1 and G2 drivers will face a 30 day suspension after accumulating just 6 points. Speeding 50 km/h or more over the limit, or stunt driving as it is considered, is more serious and carries the risk of a jail sentence and an immediate vehicle impound.

         “Hidden penalties include insurance rate increases

of up to 100%”

Anna calculated that a conviction for her would mean a $186 fine and 4 demerit points. Anna’s insurance premiums may also go up (check with John what the details are). The good thing is that she won’t get a criminal record, as traffic tickets are provincial offences and are not criminal.

Here are some things to think about if you get a speeding ticket like Anna did:

  1. Read the ticket front and back and check for any mistakes.
  2. Search up the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and read the wording under the section you were charged with (ie. S. 427) (Link to OHTA -  https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90h08#BK223)
  3. Don’t miss your 15 day window. You have 15 days from the date that you received the ticket, or if it was delivered to you, from the date that you discovered the ticket, to ask for a trial date. If you do not ask for a trial date within those 15 days, you will be automatically convicted.

Within the 15 day window, you’ll have several options:

  1. Pay the fine. The first option is to pay the fine outright. This is the fastest thing to do but is expensive in the short and long term, because it leads to a conviction.
  2. Early resolution. The second option is to go to the courthouse to meet with the prosecutor for an “early resolution meeting”. The downsides of this option are the same as the above except that it also involves meeting with the prosecutor. On the upside, you have a very high chance of having the penalty of your ticket reduced by making a deal to plead guilty.
  3. Request a trial. The third option is to fill out a form to request a trial. This option takes more time, but it gives you a chance to avoid conviction. Avoiding conviction would mean that you don’t pay the fine, you don’t increase your insurance rate, and you don’t get any demerit points, license suspension, or driving record. If you try this option and fail, you may still save some money on your insurance rate by pushing the conviction date into the future, but you may not get as good of a deal on your penalty. If you succeed, then you will avoid all the penalties.

 

Choosing the Best Option

“The only way to know whether you can beat the ticket is to book a trial”

The only way to know whether or not you can beat the ticket is to book a trial. Once you do this, you are allowed to ask for disclosure. Disclosure is a document that outlines the evidence that would be used against you if you go to trial. This will be your main tool to fight your ticket!

For speeding tickets, disclosure usually includes:

  • The officer’s notes about the day you were ticketed, including weather and traffic conditions.
  • The officer’s notes about the use of a speed detection device, such as Lidar or Radar.
  • Any other evidence like video or audio recordings, statements made by you or another person, or any other evidence relevant to the case.

You can get your disclosure from the City Prosecutor’s Office, and you must ask for disclosure in wiring. You can contact the Court Services call centre at (416) 338-7320 or visit their website to figure out the address of your local Crown office that deals with traffic tickets.

Before you plead guilty or not guilty to a ticket, make sure you understand all the penalties. This includes the fine amounts, points, any license suspension, and any impact on your insurance rates.

Unlike a criminal charge, for a speeding ticket the crown prosecutor does not have to prove that you had a “guilty mind” and had an intention to speed. At trial they just have to prove that the act itself (ie. Anna was going 81 km/h where the posted speed limit was 50 km/h), along with the basics like where and when it happened, and who did it. The Crown must show proof beyond a reasonable doubt about these factors.

Fine payments – Keep in mind that you can ask for extra time to pay any fine you get. You can also ask to change the timing of your license suspension to a time that is more convenient for you.

Finally, remember that speeding increases the risk of crashes, injury and death. So please, slow down, and drive safely.

One Easy Trick to Beat Your Ticket!

Posted on Leave a comment

One Easy Trick to Beat Your Traffic Ticket!

For most people, getting a ticket is a surefire conviction—meaning fines, points, and an inevitable hike in insurance. However, this is not necessarily the case. Thousands of tickets are beaten and dropped each year, and the key, according to some professionals, is “disclosure”.

“Under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter, each person has the right to make a full answer and defence when they are being accused,” says Jonathan Hurter, a lawyer with years of experience dealing with traffic tickets. “This means that, if you invoke this right, you are entitled to the opportunity to review the prosecution’s evidence before trial. This is disclosure. If there are any holes in the evidence, or if the prosecution fails to provide disclosure on time, the ticket is often thrown out.”

According to Hurter, disclosure is essential to preparing any defense. Without it, it is impossible to see whether the prosecution has a case, and whether there is anything that can be argued.

“Oftentimes people plead guilty without even reviewing their disclosure,” he says. “This is a huge mistake. Why would you plead guilty, when you don’t even know if they have a case against you?”

Under Canadian law, there is no way to convict you when the prosecution fails to meet the minimal threshold for disclosure. This can often occur when the officer fails to do the paperwork diligently. Given the number of tickets that are written every year, it is no surprise that many have mistakes, or contain outright falsehoods.

There are an abundance of people who, on the advice from police officers and prosecutors, think that their best option is to go into early resolution and take the first deal that comes their way. While this does save time, there is one critical disadvantage to doing this—while you have the right to review your disclosure before trial, you have no such right before your early resolution meeting. As such, most people walk in blind. Without this knowledge, it is almost impossible to evaluate one’s odds of winning, and therefore, impossible to tell whether a deal is good or bad.

A much better option, according to Hurter, would be to request a trial as soon as possible. Assuming one invokes their rights correctly, this ensures that proper disclosure is prepared. If there really isn’t an argument to be made after reviewing the disclosure, a plea is usually still on the table—simply ask to speak with the prosecutor beforehand, and a deal can be worked out.

But are there any cases where getting disclosure could hurt you? Hurter doesn’t believe so. “It always pays to walk into court informed and prepared,” he says.

However, he does mention that there are cases where it may not be worth it. “If you’re short on time, and you were caught by an automated system, such as a red light camera, there may not be a need to book a trial and request disclosure. Simply meet with the prosecutor, and you could get your charge reduced.”

Other Key Facts:

  • You cannot order disclosure until you have a trial date. Thus, it is advisable to book a trial date as soon as possible, in order to access this crucial right.
  • If disclosure is not provided on time, the trial can be adjourned. This means the trial will be suspended until a later date. Trials that are adjourned can often be granted a stay of proceedings—essentially meaning that the case is thrown out.
  • If disclosure was improperly prepared, the trial can also be adjourned.
  • While one can certainly review their own disclosure, getting a professional to do it will greatly increase one’s chances of hitting their objectives in court.

TLDR: Disclosure is an essential part of your rights as a Canadian, and is vital to challenging any ticket or charge against you. You should always consider reviewing disclosure before pleading guilty and paying for your ticket.

To Service and Collect: Are Toronto Police Issuing More Tickets?

Posted on Leave a comment

To Service and Collect: Are Toronto Police Issuing More Tickets?

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for a police officer to simply issue a warning and send you back along your merry way.

Nowadays, that seems to never be the case. Instead, you're much more likely to find yourself with a fistful of hefty fines and a head spewing with questions.

Although critics say the problem is growing across Canada, the situation seems to be at its worst in Toronto.

In 2012, the Police issued over 600,000 traffic violations in Ontario. However, a staggering 200,000 or 35% of these tickets were issued in Toronto alone.

With so much emphasis on traffic enforcement, a simple task like filing a ticket has become a painstakingly long and arduous process.

32-year-old Nancy, a longtime resident of Toronto, complained about the disarray in the courts. “There’s just papers everywhere,” she sighed.

“Court clerks aren’t even trying to help. I asked one clerk how I can fight my ticket and she replied with ‘what do I know, I just work here.’” she told reporters Monday.

Critics say the system has always been dysfunctional. It works against the average joe that can’t afford to take time off work to simply file a ticket, let alone contest one

in court. The problem is exacerbated when most people that get a ticket don’t understand the process or the consequences of simply paying it. Demerit points can quickly pile up and insurance rates can skyrocket within a blink of an eye.

Enter: Winston!

Developed by a handful of eager law students, Winston is a free-to-use automated chatbot designed to help people fight any traffic ticket from the comfort of their home.

“Winston is for the father of two who didn’t turn their hazard lights on in front of the daycare centre, the accountant who doesn’t know she has a valid defence and chose to just pay the fine instead, and the grandfather who can’t take a day off work to go file his ticket,” said Zhang Wu, the founder of Winston.

With so many tickets handed out each year, Wu worries that the people of Toronto aren’t getting the help they deserve.

“People shouldn’t have to take the day off work just to grab a number and sit in a courthouse for hours. Winston can do that for you, and help you prepare to defend your case in front of a court.”

Winston makes it effortless to order and file court documents, track your case, and even sends you key reminders. Even more, Winston will guide you through your case and the court process step-by-step in a way that is easy to understand using images and videos.

Winston levels the playing field for those who wish to represent themselves in traffic court.

Try Winston for free for a limited time only by hitting the button below!