Traffic violations happen more often than one would like. No doubt, at one point or another, you yourself have gotten pulled over and usually end up getting a ticket if you are stopped by police. When that happens, you may find yourself regretting a hasty driving decision because there is very little that can be done to reverse the decision of the police officer who stops you.
How you handle it will depend on what you know about traffic violations and the type of traffic violation. If you have never received one before, you may not know what to expect.
What are summary conviction traffic violations
Summary conviction offences for traffic violations are offence charges you receive for violating rules against The Highway Traffic Act. These offences are minor in comparison to indictable ones and the court process for these type of offences are less complex and so are handled by provincial courts.
These offences usually come with lower penalties and fines. Summary traffic offences examples include:
- Driving above the speed limit (speeding)
- Operating a vehicle without a licence
- Failing to stop at a crossover
- Failure to slow down and proceed with caution for emergency vehicle or tow truck
- Littering on the highway
Types of traffic tickets and what to do if you receive one
When you get charged with a summary conviction offence for a traffic violation, it is important to know how to defend yourself according to the type of traffic ticket you receive. Under the Provincial Offences Act there are 3 types of tickets (aka Provincial Offence Notices) you can receive: an Offence notice (ticket), a Parking infraction notice, and a Summons to appear in court. Each one has comes with a different procedure to follow.
Although parking infractions that are not traffic violations, it is worth noting that you can either: 1) pay the ticket and hence, plead guilty, or 2) fight it and ask for a trial to contest the ticket.
When you receive an offence notice (traffic ticket), you have three options to choose from:
- Pay the ticket. By doing so, you are pleading guilty and this translates into a conviction.
- Go to a court office, plead guilty, but make a submission and request a reduced penalty.
- Request a trial. This would be to fight the violation to a dismissal or a lower penalty.
For both parking and traffic tickets, you have 15 days from when you receive your ticket to take action. If you wish to pay the ticket, you can do so online, by mail, in-person or by phone. If you fail to pay the ticket, you can incur additional costs and could be sent to a collection agency. Or, a request by the court could be made to the Ministry of Transportation to have your licence suspended.
When you receive a summons this means you have been charged with a serious offence. This ticket will have a date on which you need to appear in court. You should note that you are not convicted when you receive this. You are only charged.
Contesting summary conviction traffic violations in court
If you wish to contest a traffic ticket in court, you can get a traffic lawyer or a traffic paralegal to represent you. You also have the option to represent yourself, but it is always recommended that you seek legal advice, especially for more serious traffic violations. You do not have to attend in order for the trial to proceed. You can have a paralegal attend on your behalf. However, by failing to appear, you may be convicted by the Justice of the Peace regardless if you are there or not.
If your defence is successful, all potential convictions are dismissed. If you fight the charge and are unsuccessful, you are convicted. You are then required to pay fines and receive the applicable demerit points according to your license class. These points can stay on your record for two years.
Consequences of summary conviction traffic violations
The long and short term consequences of traffic violations should not be underestimated. Convictions cannot be pardoned. The traffic violations you received a ticket for will be on your record. Summary traffic violations may result in fines of up to $5,000 or 6 months in prison, or both. All convictions remain on your record for at least ten years.
In addition, there are other consequences to consider such as premiums for auto-insurance, which may be affected if the traffic violation results in a conviction. Other possible consequences:
- Possible suspension of your driver’s license (one year for the first conviction under the Criminal Code, three years if you receive a second conviction)
- Inability to find employment where driving is involved (Uber, cab, food delivery)
- Participation in and payment for long- to short- term treatment programs (impaired driving programs)
Have you received a summary conviction traffic violation ticket? Not sure if you can dispute it in court or not? You can get a second legal opinion on your case by consulting with an OMQ lawyer for free.