If you’ve ever been pulled over by the police and issued a traffic ticket, you may have wondered what your options are. Should you just pay the fine and move on, or should you try to dispute the ticket? 

As a seasoned traffic ticket lawyer, I can tell you that disputing your ticket can be well worth it. Here’s what you need to know to increase your chances of success.

Early in my career, I got a ticket on my way to court for “use of the 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 fine. That year I was charged $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 an officer pulls you over, it’s important to be polite and respectful. Don’t provide any evidence that could be used against you later in court.
  • 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, so anything you say could incriminate you. If you truly believe you are innocent you can make your own notes after receiving a ticket. It may be some time until you have your day in court.
  • If you believe you’re innocent, make your own notes after receiving the ticket.
  • Remember, you get more with honey than you do with vinegar. If you are rude to the 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.
  • Take the time to read the ticket carefully. Check both sides of the ticket and make sure your personal details, such as your name and contact information, are correct. Also, look for the date, time, and location of the alleged offense, as well as the specific traffic law that was violated.
  • Don’t forget to check the total fine amount, including the 15% victim surcharge, and the street address where you can submit a notice of dispute in person. Make sure to review the signature of the issuing officer, but note that your signature is not necessary.
  • The back of the ticket will provide information on how to either pay the fine or contest the ticket, as well as any deadlines for contesting the ticket. Keep in mind that most tickets require contesting within 30 days, but some have tighter deadlines.
  • If there are any errors on the ticket, such as a misspelled name or inaccurate address, it may be possible to have the ticket dismissed. However, small errors like an incorrect reference to the section of BC’s driving law will not cause the ticket to be disregarded. So, be sure to review your ticket thoroughly and take appropriate action based on the information provided.

The Dispute Process

  • If you decide to dispute your ticket, you must do so within 30 days. This can be done in person at ICBC, or by mailing or faxing a Notice of Dispute along with a copy of your ticket. 
  • Whatever you do, 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 a late dispute. Mickelson & Whysall can help you prepare and file this application if you.

Get Ready for Court –  Preparation Notes and Appearing

  1. If you’ve disputed a ticket, the court will send you a notice of hearing with the date and location, but it may take several months before you receive it.
  2. While waiting for your hearing, you can prepare your case by reviewing your notes and requesting information from the police officer named on the ticket.  The officer is obligated to provide you with all evidence against you, including police notes, occurrence report, and witness statements. This provides you the opportunity to review the evidence against you.
  3. You can also think about your legal defenses and prepare questions for the officer and any witnesses. This Provincial Guide to Disputing a Ticket on can help
  4. It’s a good idea to make copies of any photos or documents you want the court to consider, and to create a tabbed binder to keep all your evidence organized.
  5. Researching BC court decisions and driver penalty points can also help you understand your case better.
  6. Ensure that you arrive early for court.
  7. If you hire Mickelson & Whysall, we can appear in court with you and negotiate on your behalf.
  8.  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.
  9. However, you must be prepared as if the officer will attend court. Approach him and express your desire to talk about the ticket. Stay calm, polite, and ask to speak to them “without prejudice” to avoid your words being used against you in court. Although they can’t reduce penalty points, showing remorse and flexibility may lead the officer to reduce the charge or fine, but rarely will they withdraw the ticket completely.
  10. When you enter the court, bow as a sign of respect and stand up when you address the court. First impressions are important!
  11. The court is presided over by a Justice of the Peace, whom you refer to as “Your Worship.”
  12. At your hearing, a judicial justice will listen to the officer and any other witnesses first. Then, you can give your side of the story and ask questions. If found guilty, you’ll receive a penalty and possibly a driving ban, but you can ask for a lower fine or more time to pay. Unfortunately, the justice can’t reduce any driver penalty points.
  13. 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, as 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.

Do you know how long do points stay on your license in BC? Check out this article “How Many Points Before Driver’s Licence Suspension in BC?” to learn it.

If you hire Mickelson & Whysall to handle your 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.

In conclusion, if you’ve been issued a traffic ticket, don’t just pay the fine and move on. Dispute it! With the right approach and preparation, you can increase your chances of winning and avoid the negative consequences of having points added to your driver’s abstract. If you need help with disputing your ticket, contact Mickelson & Whysall. We are here 24/7 to help you get through it!

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