Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why Fight an Ontario Traffic Ticket?

Millions of traffic tickets are written by officers every year and thousands are handed out on a daily basis. For most people, receiving a traffic ticket is an annoyance that they just want to be rid of. They pay the suggested fine on the ticket and try to forget they even got the traffic ticket. But did you know that paying the fine on the ticket is an automatic plea of guilty to the offence committed? Did you also know that by pleading guilty, you assume responsibility of all penalties associated with that traffic ticket and these penalties are NOT listed on the ticket itself? The fine amount is not the only penalty that you could be facing by paying a traffic ticket. Before you decide to just “pay it and forget about it”, find out exactly what you are pleading guilty to and the penalties associated to your traffic ticket charge.

Demerit Points:

Most traffic tickets in Ontario have Demerit Points associated with the offence. These demerit points are not listed on the ticket and officers are not authorized to assign an amount of demerit points to a traffic ticket offence. Demerit points are a standard put forth by the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario. When you are found guilty of a traffic ticket in court, that offence will appear on your driver’s record with the specified amount of demerit points associated with it. For an up to date list of different offences and the demerit points they carry, please visit our Demerit Points page. If you accumulate enough demerit points on your record, you could face an interview with the Ministry of Transportation or even a licence suspension from having too many demerit points. Here is an indication of how demerit points could affect the state of your licence:

Demerit Points and New Drivers:

If you are a Class G1, G2, M1 or M2 driver, once you accumulate a minimum of 2 or more demerit points on your record, you will be sent a warning letter in the mail. Once you receive 6 demerit points, an interview will be set for you to go into the Ministry of Transportation to discuss your driving record and to offer reasons why they should not suspend your licence. If you do not attend this interview, your licence will likely be suspended. If you accumulate 9 demerit points, your licence WILL be suspended for 60 days from the time that you surrender your licence to the Ministry of Transportation. If you fail to surrender your licence, you can lose your licence for up to 2 years. After the suspension period, the number of points on your record will be reduced to 4. Any additional points could again bring you to the interview level. If you reach 9 points again, your licence can be suspended for 6 months from the date you surrender it to the Ministry of Transportation.

Demerit Points and Fully Licenced Drivers:

If you are a fully licenced driver and you accumulate 6 demerit points on your record, you will be sent a warning letter in the mail. If you accumulate 9 points, an interview will be set for you to go into the Ministry of Transportation to discuss your driving record and to offer reasons why they should not suspend your licence. If you do not attend this interview, your licence will likely be suspended. If you accumulate 15 demerit points, your licence WILL be suspended for 30 days from the time that you surrender your licence to the Ministry of Transportation. If you fail to surrender your licence, you can lose your licence for up to 2 years. After the suspension you may be required to complete a driver re-examination (vision, knowledge and road tests), the number of points on your record will be reduced to 7. Any extra points could again bring you to the interview level. If you reach 15 points again, your licence will be suspended for 6 months.

Even if a traffic ticket does not carry any demerit points, paying the ticket is still pleading guilty to the offence and a traffic ticket conviction will still be registered on your record which could still increase your insurance rates. The only way to avoid a traffic ticket on your record is to fight the ticket in court for a chance to have the ticket reduced or eliminated.

Insurance Implications:

Insurance companies do not look at the amount of demerit points on your record, but at the type and amount of convictions on your record. Most insurance companies will forgive one or two minor infractions on your record, but will raise your rates for multiple tickets and major infractions. This means that if you receive your very first ticket, which happens to be for speeding at 30km/hr over the limit and you just pay the fine, your insurance can raise dramatically for the three years this ticket is on your record. 30 over the limit will likely be considered a major infraction by your insurance company, where even 1 km less (29 km/hr) over the limit would likely have no effect on your insurance at all! The only way to have a chance to have this ticket reduced (and even the possibility of eliminating it completely) is to fight this ticket in court.

Not only will insurance companies raise their rates for single major infractions on your record, but they will also hike up your rates for multiple traffic tickets received. If you receive a very minor speeding ticket for 10km/hr over the limit and also received tickets for not having your insurance card on hand or having an improper sticker on your licence plate, you may think that just paying the tickets is the best idea since they are all minor with no demerit points. The problem here is that by paying the fines, you are pleading guilty to the offences and you will receive three convictions on your driving record. Many insurance companies’ rates can as much as triple with this many convictions on your record and some insurance companies will stop insuring you altogether for this many infractions!

Fines, Licence Suspensions and Jail Time:

More serious traffic tickets carry hefty fines associated with them that may not be listed on the ticket. If you received a Summons to Defendant, the fine amount will not be listed and you will have to go into the court to plead guilty or not. If you plead guilty to one of these offences you could be facing fines from $500 up to $10,000! Many of these traffic tickets will also carry licence suspensions once you are convicted and even possible jail time. Before you admit guilt to any Ontario traffic ticket, find out what the exact penalties are for your offence so that you can make an educated decision on how you want to proceed.

Legal Errors and Officer Mistakes:

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) is very detailed and since only a small portion of an officer’s training is focused on the HTA, it can be easily misinterpreted by police officers. Police officers are sometimes wrong, so if you pay the fine on a traffic ticket, you may be pleading guilty to an offence you did not even commit! Also, there are a number of fatal errors that an officer could make on the face of the traffic ticket or legal errors in the evidence against you that could help have the ticket eliminated. Having a professional examine your case and analyze the officer’s disclosure is the best way to find any errors in law or anything that can help get you the best possible result for your traffic ticket case.

If you have a ticket and would like to request a free quote from Traffic Ticket Solutions, please feel free to fill out a FREE QUOTE on our website, or call us at 1.877.TTS.WINS and a professional lawyer or paralegal will get back to you as soon as they can.

Labels: , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home