The easiest thing to do to avoid paying hefty traffic violation fees would be to avoid breaking the law in the first place. Unfortunately we all make mistakes, but sometimes the issuing officer can too. If you feel like you’ve been given an unfair traffic ticket, or if you think the penalty is too high, then you have the right to file a dispute traffic ticket with the traffic courts.
Here are five tips to consider if you choose to dispute traffic ticket.
Tip 1: Dispute traffic ticket will delay the deadline for paying your ticket.
When you file a dispute the charges against you are thrown into limbo until a traffic court judge decides the validity of the charge by hearing your case versus that of the issuing officer. That being said, there is currently a very long list of disputes pending in the system. This is partly due to the limited availability of traffic court judges. What this means is that it will take quite a while for the courts to process and issue a hearing date. It can take anywhere from six to twelve months, or sometimes even longer than that. This gives you plenty of time to prepare your finances so that you can afford to pay the ticket.
Tip 2: You can ask for a reduction of the charge at your hearing.
When you’re being written up by a police officer it might not be the best time to give them a sob story about your financial situation. A better time would be at your violation hearing. Traffic court judges want to hear your side of the case and may interpret the application of the law differently than the police officer. They might consider your traffic incident to be an honest mistake, or they might appreciate that the punishment being pursued is too severe for your circumstances, and they have the authority to reduce the charge.
Tip 3: Arrive early and speak with the issuing officer, they may agree to reduce the charge in an exchange for a guilty plea.
Police officers are busy people and time spent in traffic court is time spent away from more important things. Some officers are willing to redact some parts of their charges (either to reduce the price or to reduce the penalty in points against your driver’s license) in exchange for a guilty plea by you. You’ll save them time from having to go through a cross-examination period in the hearing and they can save you money.
Tip 4: The issuing officer might not show up, which can automatically dismiss your case.
In some cases, officers are so busy that they might decide to miss the proceedings. If this happens, there’s no one there to defend the officer’s decision and the case will be dismissed.
That is, of course, if you choose to plead innocent to the charge.
One thing that can prevent an immediate case dismissal is if the issuing officer felt so compelled to write in to the court to request a new hearing date. This usually wouldn’t happen unless they feel that your case is especially important.
Tip 5: Say “Your Worship”, not “Your Honour”.
One common misconception (thanks to the movies) is that every judge is referred to as “Your Honour”. In reality there are different types of judges who are to be addressed in different ways. In traffic court judges are Justices of the Peace and the manner of address is “Your Worship”.
If nothing else, the judge will appreciate it.
So there you have it. Hopefully with this information you’ll be feeling more confident in your decision to dispute traffic ticket. If you’ve learned anything here, share it on social media with the hashtag #DYKTrafficLaw
Disclaimer: The aforementioned information and opinions are not to be considered as legal advice and should not be used as a point of reference in the court of law. If you are seeking legal advice, contact a professional lawyer.