Early in my career, I got a ticket on my way to court for “use of electronic device while driving”. I instantly apologized to the officer and admitted to being on my phone. When I came back to the office, I told my colleague, Joel Whysall, about the ticket. His advice to me was to dispute the ticket. I asked him why? I am guilty. I was texting and using my cell phone at a red light. He just laughed at me and told me to dispute it. Of course I did not listen to him. I paid the ticket. That year I was charged with $300.00 in Driver Risk Premium Penalty Points. Looking back at this, I laugh at myself for not disputing the ticket.
Now as a lawyer, who is experienced in defending traffic tickets, I can share what I have learned.
Dealing with the Officer
- When stopped by an officer do not provide them with evidence against you. The officer will use what you say against you. Officers make notes right after your interaction and will write down what you say to them. This can incriminate you later at trial. If you truly believe you are innocent you can make you own notes after receiving a ticket. It may be sometime until you have your day in court.
- You get more with honey than you do with vinegar. If you are rude to officer, they likely will make notes of this as well and be less inclined to deal with you if you dispute the ticket. My advice is to be polite and respectful when dealing with the officer.
The Dispute Process
- Dispute your ticket within 30 days. This can be done by going into ICBC, mailing or faxing in a Notice of Dispute along with a copy of your ticket.
- If your intention is to dispute your ticket do not pay the fine, if you pay the fine you are deemed to plead guilty. What if you just don’t pay the fine? Are you deemed guilty if you don’t pay and don’t dispute?
- A Notice of Hearing will be mailed to you advising you of the court date. This will take about a year. Mark the court date in your calendar and do not miss your court date. If you move let ___ know. If you don’t receive the Notice of Hearing you may be out of luck.
- If you miss the 30 day ticket dispute period, you may still be able to make an application for late dispute. Mickelson & Whysall can help you prepare and file this application if you.
Be Prepared for Court
- Request the police disclosure. Once you are notified of the court date contact the officer and request a copy of the disclosure. The police officer is obligated to provide you with all evidence against you. This includes: police notes, occurrence report and witness statements.
- Obtaining the disclosure provides you the opportunity to review the evidence against you.
- If you requested the disclosure from the officer and it is not provided, this may provide you with grounds for a Charter application later on.
Appearing in Court
- Ensure that you arrive early for court. Find the officer who issued you the ticket. This provides you an opportunity to speak with the officer and see if there is any room for negotiation.
- If you hire Mickelson & Whysall we will appear in court with you, and many times we can appear on your behalf.
- If the police officer doesn’t show up to court you win! The ticket is dismissed for want of prosecution as there is no evidence to support the allegation against you. However, you must be prepared as if the officer will attend court.
- The court is presided over by a Justice of the Peace (the “JP”). You refer to the JP as “Your Worship”. When you enter the court bow as a sign of respect and stand up when you address the court. First Impressions are important.
- By disputing the ticket it also provides you an opportunity to ask the JP for a fine reduction or time to pay.
The Danger of Points
- The points that attach to a traffic offence can be devastating if you are a Novice Driver (Class 7). More than 2 points on your driver’s abstract can lead to lengthy driving prohibitions from the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.
- The points can also be a big hit on your wallet. Drivers Penalty Point Premiums are calculated on an annual basis.
- If you have a high number of points on your driving abstract officers are less likely to be open to favourable resolutions or letting you off with a warning at the roadside.
If you hire Mickelson & Whysall to handle you traffic tickets, whether we fight the ticket in court or negotiate a favourable resolution, we can help you navigate the traffic court process and obtain the best possible result for you.