Most people usually either pay their traffic tickets thinking "I committed the offence, so I'll pay for the fine," "I can't miss a day of work for traffic court", "It's too complicated and I don't want to deal with it," or they usually request trial and but fail to show up. This thread will be my personal experience of an average Joe dealing with my traffic ticket. So here's the disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. If you have been charged with any offence, you should seek professional legal aid and consider your options. With that out of the way, let me map out the purpose of this thread:
I am writing this thread in hopes of helping you get an idea of the ways you could defend yourself in traffic court. Whether or not you are guilty, you deserve a fair hearing.
I ask that if you are about to post a "you did the crime, do the time" or similar, please keep it to yourself. At the very least, this thread will help make you more aware of the traffic court proceedings.
So here we go:
In October 2014, I was stopped on the highway for allegedly excessively speeding. Excessive speeding is anything 40kmh above the speeding limit, although the speed limits in B.C. are a joke, this is not the place for that. The Officer was hostile at the beginning but was courteous after I treated him with respect throughout the stop. The vehicle was impounded for 9 days on the spot.
In B.C. excessive speeding is a $368-483 fine plus 3 demerit points plus an additional $320 driver risk premium, this is not including the towing and storage of your vehicle for 9 days which costs approximately $400. If you have any other demerit points on your driving record, expect to pay another $230. So for someone with a perfect driving record, expect to pay approximately $1200 for an excessive speeding charge, this is not including making other arrangements for losing your vehicle, PLUS other ICBC surcharges. This raises an issue, as under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, you are to be considered innocent until proven guilty, however, the officer in this case is the judge, jury, and prosecutor. So without any appeal process or oversight, the Officer can take away your vehicle for 9 days.
The side of the road isn't a place to argue with the Officer, and I guarantee you that you will never win. If you are pulled over, it is best to be cooperative with the Officer and don't give him a hard time, being polite and courteous goes a long way (this could help you later on). However, I would refrain from saying anything that would incriminate yourself.
I requested trial, requested disclosure and filed a Notice of Charter Argument. I attended traffic court and the matter was adjourned to provincial court due to the charter argument. It took 14 months since the alleged offence took place to trial, and I personally find that 14 months is excessive for a traffic matter. This is not to say that excessive speeding isn't a serious charge, but it is not criminal and there is almost no preparation by the prosecutor.
My options were:
1. Pay the ticket and all other penalties
2. Request trial and I don't show up (go back to option 1)
3. Request trial, I show up and Officer doesn't show up, all charges dropped (except I already paid 400 for towing and storage)
4. Request trial, I show up and Officer shows up
The majority of this thread will be about number 4.
If you believe you are guilty of the offence and don't mind paying the fine, but find the ICBC additional penalties not acceptable, you may be able to get the Officer to put the offence down as the registered owner, you will still be responsible for the fine but not any additional penalties. This is purely Officer's discretion and how you treated him.
This thread will not be specifically about excessive speeding, but could be about any non-criminal traffic violation. However, due to my circumstances, it will have a great emphasis on speeding.
Eventually, after 14 months and two court appearances, the crown stayed the charges before the case could be heard due to the excessive amount of time it took for the matter to go to a hearing.
1) Requesting Disclosure