If you want to fight your traffic ticket by yourself, or just would like to know more about traffic tickets, we think that the information below will be useful.
Three options to deal with your traffic ticket
Basically, you have three options to fight your traffic ticket:
- OPTION 1. Plead guilty by paying the fine (a conviction is registered).
- OPTION 2. Visit a court office to plead guilty but make submissions about the penalty (amount of fine or time to pay) (a conviction is registered).
- OPTION 3. Request a trial. Depending on what your traffic ticket says, you may need to either mail in your ticket showing that you want a trial or you may need to visit a court office to file a request for trial.
If you do not choose one of the above options within 15 days of receiving the traffic ticket, or if you do not appear for your trial, a Justice of the Peace will review your case and may enter a conviction without you there.
You have the right to fight your traffic ticket in court. Many court locations permit defendants to meet with prosecutors before the trial to see if the charge can be resolved. If you receive a traffic ticket you should phone the court and ask about First Attendance options.
Plead guilty by paying the fine (out of court) (a conviction is registered)
If you have got a traffic ticket and do not want to fight it, you have to sign the back of your traffic ticket and make a payment to the court indicated on the back of the traffic ticket. You must pay the full amount indicated in the box called “total payable”, which is the total of the set fine, victim fine surcharge and costs.
Paying a traffic ticket
There are several methods available to pay traffic tickets, including:
- Online payment (via www.paytickets.ca.)
- In-person payment
- Payment by mail
- Telephone payment
You have to read your traffic ticket for the payment options available to you and information about how to do so.
Two amounts on your traffic ticket
One amount is the set fine and the second is the total payable. The total payable consists of the set fine, court costs and the victim fine surcharge. The set fine is ordered by the Chief Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice as an amount payable by the defendant in lieu of attending court to contest the charge. Court costs are an amount to be paid by the defendant for the service of the offence notice and/or summons and upon conviction of an offence. The costs are authorized by Section 60 of the Provincial Offences Act and the amount is set by regulation. Section 8 of the Provincial Offences Act provides that payment of traffic ticket constitutes a plea of guilty and results in a conviction being registered.
The provincial government adds a victim fine surcharge to every non-parking fine imposed under the Provincial Offences Act. It is deposited into a special fund to help victims of crime. The amount of the victim fine surcharge is usually 20% of the imposed fine. Fines over $1,000 carry a surcharge of 25%
If you need more time to pay your traffic ticket fine
If you need more time to pay a provincial offence fine, visit the court office noted on the back of your ticket (Offence Notice) or the address indicated on the top of your Notice of Fine and Due date. You will be asked to fill out a form. This form will require you to fill in all of the information regarding your ticket including how much you have paid so far and a specific date that you would like it extended to, etc. You may or may not be required to see a Justice of the Peace to give a verbal explanation.
Visit a court office to plead guilty but make submissions about the penalty (amount of fine or time to pay) (a conviction is registered)
If you do not want to fight your traffic ticket, but wish to plead guilty before a Justice of the Peace and ask for a lower fine and /or more time to pay. A conviction will be registered. Your explanations can only result in a reduction of the fine, or an extension of time to pay. A Justice of the Peace cannot remove or reduce the demerit points that may be applicable, or reduce the charge. By Regulation under the Highway Traffic Act, demerit points are applied by the Ministry of Transportation upon conviction and the court has no authority to intervene.
Request a trial
Depending on what your traffic ticket says, you may need to either mail in your traffic ticket showing that you want a trial or you may need to visit a court office to file a request for trial.
Notice of Intention to Appear
If your traffic ticket says that you must attend court to request a trial, then you will be required to complete a Notice of Intention to Appear (NIA) at the court office. It is vital that the information recorded on this document is written neatly and correctly to ensure that notification, when mailed, will be directed properly. The trial notice indicating your trial date, time and place will be mailed to you at the address indicated on the NIA. It is your responsibility to advise the court if you change your mailing address.
First Attendance Meeting
If you wish to meet with the Prosecutor to discuss your charge, you may attend the court office and request a First Attendance Meeting. You will be required to complete a Notice of Intention to Appear (NIA) for the meeting and a date will be scheduled with the Prosecutor.
If you received a summons, it will indicate a court date instead of a fine. You are required to attend court on the date indicated on the summons. If you fail to appear in court, a warrant may be issued for your arrest, or the court may proceed to trial in your absence. You may not see a Justice of the Peace before your court date, and depending on the type of offence, your matter may be dealt with by the Provincial Prosecutor.
Disclosure is a legal procedure when the defendant is provided with copies of all evidentiary documents which will be used by the Prosecutor at trial. To order disclosure, you have to go to the court and fill out a Request for Disclosure form. It takes a while so you should apply for disclosure as soon as possible.
To change a Trial Date
If you cannot attend a trial to change a trial date, you have 3 options:
- Where this is the first request for an adjournment the defendant must attend the court office where his/ her trial is being held at least five (5) business days in advance of the scheduled trial to request an Adjournment of First Trial Date with the a Clerk of Court. The clerk will complete Request for Adjournment of First Trial Date and defendant will have to deliver completed form to prosecutor’s office to obtain their consent before the clerk can assign a new date. This can be accomplished with one visit to the court administration office.
- Where option 1 does not apply the defendant must attend the court office where your trial is being held at least five (5) business days in advance of the scheduled trial and file a Notice of Motion to change their trial date. This will also require you to return to court to have this Motion heard.
- You cannot attend the trial date that has been set and request the presiding Justice of the Peace for an adjournment and give the reasons why you could not attend.
MAKE A DECISION: to fight or not to fight your traffic ticket
When you have all information and options available for you, it’s time to make a decision – to fight or not to fight your traffic ticket. If you want to fight your traffic ticket then consider how: to fight your traffic ticket by yourself or to hire CP Paralegal Solutions to do the job.
GOING TO COURT
Going to your hearing, you have to look decent, clean and professional. It could happen that your entire case can rest on your attitude. Always show respect for the court and the proceedings. Win or lose, it is always best to thank the judge. You never know if you will have to appear in front of them again. Behave yourself inside and outside of the courthouse.
Once convicted, you will receive a Notice of Fine and Due Date informing you of your conviction and your payment due date. This notice also informs you of the actions that may be taken, (such as Licence Suspension, Plate denial, civil action and reporting the outstanding debt to a collection agency), should you not pay your fine.
IGNORING YOUR TRAFFIC TICKET
If you do not respond to the traffic ticket within 15 days, you may be convicted of the offence you are charged with. If you are convicted you would be required to pay the set fine, court costs and, if it is not a parking ticket, the victim fine surcharge by the due date. Failure to pay the fine imposed upon conviction by the due date will result in one or more of the following:
- For certain offences, including parking infractions, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation could refuse to issue or validate your vehicle permit
- For certain offences, including speeding, your driver’s licence could be suspended
- You will be charged an additional administrative fee
- Your defaulted fine will be referred to a collection agency
- Your defaulted fine information will be given to a credit bureau