Defences to Speeding Tickets
Many people appear in traffic court just “hoping the officer doesn’t appear….but what do you do if the officer is there?
Does the Police Officer Come to Court?
You’ve heard people say they fight their own tickets and usually win.
What usually happens is they attend court and the officer didn’t show up, they got lucky…
They don’t tell you about the times they lost or didn’t know what to say when they saw the officer.
Most police officers do appear for traffic court and “occasionally” they do not appear. An officer may not appear because:
- they were called to a more important event
- the police service is short staffed and the need officer “on the road”
- the officer is unable to attend or has been excused e.g. sickness
Police officers are always required to appear in court if they are off duty, or on their day off they receive overtime pay. Where an officer misses court without authorization they can be disciplined or fined by management.
Many times people show up to traffic court unprepared because:
- they don’t understand the system,
- they don’t know the legal technicalities of speeding
- their only hope is the police officer does not attend
- they don’t know if the prosecution can prove the charge
- they don’t understand the implications of reduced charges
- they take the uninformed guilty plea offered by the prosecutor
If you want to fight your speeding ticket, drivers need do their homework on how to conduct a trial and learn the legal technicalities or speak to professionals like OTT Legal.
Appearing in Traffic Court
Traffic court in Ontario is the same as you see on television. The Judge is a Justice of the Peace, there is a court appointed prosecutor, and the police officer.
The driver or the accused in traffic court is called “the defendant”
The Court Prosecutor
The prosecutor job is to prosecute and convict the defendant/drivers of speeding. There is no free help or duty counsel in traffic court.
The prosecutor is employed by the municipality to help the police and court to conviction you. The prosecutor:
- is not in court to help you
- is not there to advise you if the officer is going to appear,
- will not tell you if there are legal arguments that apply to your ticket,
- will not tell you if there are mistakes on the original (court’s copy of the ticket),
- the prosecutor’s job is to convict you of speeding.
If there is something wrong with the officer’s investigation or the ticket, the prosecutor is not going to tell, help you with your case or accept your explanation for speeding. The prosecution does not advise or disclose errors or legal issues to you the defendant.
When you appear in traffic court in Ontario, prior to the court starting, the prosecutor will call each of the defendants to ask them how they are pleading to the charge, guilty or not guilty.
The prosecutor, as the name implies, is there to prosecute the defendants, they are not there to help you.
As well as prosecuting the cases the prosecutor’s job is to get through the court docket (the court cases) as quickly and expediently as possible.
The prosecutor doesn’t want to run trials as they are time consuming for the court, police and judge. The prosecutor wants the defendants to plead guilty to reduced charges, to the benefit of the court, not the driver.
When the driver says that they are pleading not guilty to the charge, the prosecutor may then offer to “reduce the amount of the speed and/or the fine”.
If the speeding ticket is reduced, the demerit points may also be reduced but not always. Accepting a reduced charge may or may not be in the best interests of the driver as it is still a conviction. Reduced speeding tickets still appear on your insurance for 3 years.
Understand what you’ve accepting as there may be no benefit to a reduced charge at all and/or the case could have been won at trial.
Saving demerit points has little benefit to a driver as demerits do not affect insurance unless you or over the limit for your class of licence.