Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who’s the ‘Dummy’ Now?

I just came across this article from the Toronto Sun and thought I would share it for a little laugh. Just so that everyone is aware, the HOV lane is the High Occupancy Vehicle Lane (commonly known as the carpool lane) that usually requires two or more passengers in the car to be able to drive in that reserved lane.

The article stated that the man received a traffic ticket for $124, but it does not indicate what the actual charge was. He likely got charged with an “Improper Use of HOV Lane” but I am curious to know if there is an actual “No Dummy Law” in Seattle!

Man nabbed in car pool lane with dummy 'passenger'
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Last Updated: 13th March 2009, 3:22pm

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Justice of the Peace Found Guilty of Judicial Misconduct


A Toronto Justice of the Peace (JP), Jorge Barroilhet has been found guilty of judicial misconduct this month for having inappropriate links with a traffic ticket defence company that he used to run.
Barroilhet has been a JP at the Old City Hall court, downtown Toronto, since 2002 and has admitted that he continued to advise the company (Stop All Traffic Tickets) on legal matters, assisted in drafting legal documents for their clients and even presiding as a JP over matters for defendants represented by the company.


JPs in Ontario are allowed to have a second occupation, but because of the nature of the traffic ticket defence company, it would be a conflict of interest to allow him to continue having any ties with the company while holding a position of a JP. In an
article in the Toronto Star, panel members involved in making the decision against Barroilhet were quoted as saying, “There is uncontradicted evidence that His Worship Barroilhet was aware, prior to his appointment, that he was required to sever all interest, contact or involvement with his former business”.

At this point, we aren’t aware if the outcome of this trial will produce any sort of investigation into the results of cases for clients of Stop All Traffic Tickets that Barroilhet presided over, but speculations seem to be indicating that he will likely be stripped of his JP duties and removed from the bench once submissions are complete.

Barroilhet’s case resumes on September 17th 2009 for submissions on the appropriate penalty for his misconduct.

For Further information, please see links to articles below:

The Toronto Star:
JP Guilty in Traffic Ticket Conflict
August 01 2009 By Tracey Tyler – Legal Affairs Reporter

The Toronto Sun:
Why are JPs Allowed a Second Occupation?
May 24th 2009 by Alan Shanoff

Ontario Court of Justice:
Scheduled Hearings of the Justice of the Peace Review Council

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

TINTED WINDOWS: HOW DARK IS TOO DARK?



When it comes to tinting your windows in Ontario, many people wonder what the laws are concerning how dark you can go. How dark is too dark?

If you ask the businesses that tint vehicles windows, or spend some time on message boards and forums, you will find that most say that 35% is a safe amount. The windshield cannot be tinted at all, the rear windows can be as d
ark as you wish and the driver’s and front passenger’s windows need to be light enough to be able to see the driver relatively clearly. That’s a pretty vague description from professionals and people “in the know”! The reason the people in the industry are vague about this issue is because the law is just as vague.

Below is an excerpt from the Highway traffic Act (HTA) with the description of what is too dark:

Equipment obstructing view
Signs, objects, etc.


73. (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon a highway,
(a) with any sign, poster or other non-transparent material or object placed on the windshield or on any window of such motor vehicle; or
(b) with any object placed in, hung on or attached to the motor vehicle,
in a manner that will obstruct the driver’s view of the highway or any intersecting highway. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 73 (1).

Colour coating obstructing view prohibited
(2) No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon a highway where the surface of the windshield or of any window of the vehicle has been coated with any colour spray or other colour coating in such a manner as to obstruct the driver’s view of the highway or any intersecting highway. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 73 (2).

Colour coating obscuring interior
(3) No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle on which the surface of the windshield or of any window to the direct left or right of the driver’s seat has been coated with any coloured spray or other coloured or reflective material that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle when viewed from outside the motor vehicle. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 73 (3).

Signs, etc., required by Act or regulations
(4) This section does not prevent the use of signs, markers or equipment required under this Act or the regulations. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 73 (4).

Windows to afford clear view
74. (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon a highway,
(a) unless the windshield and the windows on either side of the compartment containing the steering wheel are in such a condition as to afford the driver a clear view to the front and side of the motor vehicle; and
(b) unless the rear window is in such a condition as to afford the driver a clear view to the rear of the motor vehicle. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 74 (1).


PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I love the look of a dark tint, especially on a darker colour car. A few years ago, I had my car tinted. 15% in the back and 20% in the front – It was a VERY dark tint. I had asked the company if it was acceptable or if it was too dark. He said there are no “rules” or laws clearly stating how dark you can go. He assured me that this was okay, but that they would not be responsible if I received a ticket.

A couple of months later, I was pulled over and issued a ticket. I was naïve and attended court by myself (before I started working for a traffic ticket defence company, of course) and it was not a good experience. I would HIGHLY advise anyone with a similar incident to seek professional help as they know how to fight your case appropriately.

I then bought a new car and my brother now drives my old car. This time, I went with 35% in the front. I have had the car for about two years and have not had any problems. My brother, however, was pulled over while driving my old car and received a warning for the tint being too dark.

WHAT DOES 35% MEAN?

The companies who tint your windows judge how light or dark the tint is based on the amount of light it lets through. For example, 35% means that the particular tint lets 35% light through it. The higher the percentage, the more light it lets through, and the lighter the tint will be. There is no exact science to it and the tint can differ from place to place. Officers do not carry around window-tint-interpretation-devices to measure how dark your window tint is and it is left mostly up to personal interpretation. We have heard stories of some officer’s deciding that the tint is too dark if they cannot determine if it is a male or female driving the car or see clearly if the driver is wearing a seatbelt.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE SAFE?

Since there is not an exact law to follow when getting your windows tinted, use your common sense. Remember that the person installing the tint is not responsible if you receive a ticket, and they may sell you on something can they feel is safe, but can still get you a ticket in the future. Even going with the 35% can cause some trouble and you may be at risk of being pulled over and ticketed. Variables such as the time of day, the weather and even what kind of mood the officer is in, can influence the chances that you may receive a ticket.

If you do end up with a ticket, the smartest thing to do is call or visit TRAFFIC TICKET SOLUTIONS and let our professional staff deal with trying to interpret the law(s) to your advantage and building a solid defence in order to have your ticket completely eliminated or reduced.

Sukh Nagra: Traffic Ticket Solutions

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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.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cops Get Paid Overtime to Be Present in Court

We get a lot of clients calling us that seem to be debating hiring legal representation because the officer told them to fight the ticket in court. One of our clients had indicated to us that the officer was pleasant, but still gave her a speeding ticket and told her to choose the trial option on the back of the ticket and to be present at court. She was still undecided on if she was going to hire representation to defend her case because of the officer’s statement, thinking that he may have been trying to indicate that he would not show up for the court date. She called looking for our advice on whether we believed the officer would show up in this sort of situation, and if he did, why would he tell her to be present the way that he did?

Unfortunately, there is no way for us to predict if an officer will be present or not on the day of your trial. Over the past few years we have noticed an increase in the number of officers that ARE present in court, with evidence in hand.

The Toronto Star recently published an article indicating that many officers are attending court because it is now so lucrative to do so. The article stated that, “under the Toronto Police Association collective agreement, police officers who attend court as witnesses during a scheduled off day are paid a minimum four hours at 1.5 times their basic wage, even if the appearance lasts for 10 minutes. Officers receive three hours of pay at time and a half if they appear in court before beginning a regularly scheduled shift.”

In a bulletin from the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, it seems that the number of officer’s that are benefiting from this overtime is growing rapidly. In 2008, 1,006 employees of the Toronto police service earned over $100,000; 628 of which saw that amount because of a combination of their base salary (under $100,000) and the premium pay, overtime and call backs. The number of highly paid officers is climbing quickly if you take into consideration that in 2004 (only 4 years ago) the number of officers earning more than $100,000 was only 250 and in 2006 it almost tripled that amount to 708.

“ It’s the best game in town”, a retired police officer said in reference to the overtime pay that officers can receive for court appearances. The city pays out around 6 million dollars a year for overtime costs to police officers that attend court.

The Toronto Police Accountability Coalition bulletin also indicated that the number of police services employees earning over $100,000 has increased from 3.5% in 2004 – 14% in 2008. This includes uniformed officers and civilian staff. What is not indicated is how much of that 14% is made up of civilian staff, the number of uniformed staff that has a base salary of over $100,000 to begin with and of the remainder, what percentage of their pay is made up of court appearance overtime as opposed to on duty overtime and bonuses.

Back to the initial question of, “the officer told me to go to court…does that mean he won’t show up?”, that we were speaking about before. Keep in mind that just because the officer told you to go to court does not mean that your ticket is false, invalid or made up by the officer. If you are breaking the law and the officer is getting paid to uphold that law in court, you will need to think about your responsibility in the matter before you take the position that, “the officer is just in it for the money” would be a valid defence for your case. Remember that an excuse or explanation is NOT a valid defence for a ticket and if the officer is present, you will need to prove that you are innocent of the offence.

At Traffic Ticket Solutions, we will review the officer’s disclosure, prepare a defence for your matter, try to find any errors in law and search for any applicable motions to help increase the chances of having your ticket reduced or eliminated. We urge everyone to not base their defence on the luck of the draw, especially when demerit points, high fines and the state of your licence is involved! We can make sure that your case is given the best chance to be reduced or even eliminated completely from your record whether the officer is present or not!


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