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Ontario|Highway Traffic Act
520 How to defend a traffic ticket If you decide to fight a traffic ticket, there are several things that you need to do. You need to decide whether to represent yourself or whether to hire a lawyer or an agent to represent you. You need to determine what type of traffic ticket you have been issued. You also need to begin preparing your case as soon as possible.
First, you need to decide whether you will hire a lawyer or an agent to represent you. If you could lose your licence or go to jail, or if you are charged with a serious criminal offence such as impaired driving or failing to remain at the scene of an accident, you should hire a lawyer to help you defend yourself. A lawyer can also help you if you want to plea bargain your charge or if you feel uncomfortable defending yourself. If you want to fight a traffic violation, such as speeding, disobeying a stop sign, or parking offences, you can usually represent yourself.
Second, you need to determine exactly what type of traffic ticket you have been issued. There are three types of traffic tickets: a provincial offence notice; a provincial offence summons; or a summons. Each type of ticket has a different procedure to follow if you wish to fight the ticket.
- Provincial offence noticeProvincial offence notices are the most common type of traffic ticket. If you have been issued a provincial offence notice, you have three options. First, you can sign the ticket and plead guilty to the charge. Second, you can plead guilty with an explanation. This usually means you will have to go to the Courthouse and speak with a justice of the peace. The justice of the peace can reduce your fine or give you more time to pay the fine, depending on your explanation. Third, you can dispute the charge by choosing the trial option. If you choose this option you will have to contact the court office and you will have to attend court.
If you do not respond to the ticket then it will be reviewed by a justice of the peace, and if the ticket does not contain any fatal flaws, then a conviction will be entered against you. If the ticket contains a fatal flaw, the court can dismiss the ticket. An example of a fatal flaw is if the defendant's name is not on it, or there is no offence date, or no location, or if the officer did not sign the ticket. A minor error such as a misspelled name is not a fatal flaw.
- Provincial offence summonsThe second type of ticket is a provincial offence summons. A provincial offence summons is usually a pink summons form. It is usually issued for serious offences where there is no set fine, for example, if you were caught speeding more than 50km above the speed limit. If you received a provincial offence summons you must attend court. The penalty for a provincial offence summons is usually a maximum fine of $500.
- SummonsThe third type of ticket is a summons. A summons is usually issued for more serious offences such as failing to remain at the scene of an accident, driving under suspension, or driving with no insurance. The penalties for these offences are usually a fine of between $500 and $5000, or licence suspensions, or jail sentences. A summons requires that you attend court on a given date and time. It is an offence to fail to appear in court. If you have received a summons, you have been charged with a serious offence, and you should contact a lawyer for assistance.
If your ticket is not for a very serious offence, and if you decide to fight your ticket on your own, there are several things that you can do to prepare your case. You should start preparing early, while the details of the incident are still fresh in your mind. You should learn about the section of the Highway Traffic Act you have been charged under. You should obtain all the information that the prosecution has against you. This is called disclosure. You should decide whether you would like to call witnesses.
You should also decide whether you would like to try plea bargaining with the prosecution. A plea bargain is where you make a deal with the prosecutor that they reduce the charge against you. For example, they might reduce a charge of careless driving to following too closely, changing lanes unsafely, or failing to yield. In exchange, you agree to plead guilty to the lesser charge. If you would like to plea bargain, you should talk to the prosecutor.
If you would like more information about how to defend a traffic ticket, you should contact a lawyer.
DRIVING OFFENCES: HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT