Defences to Speeding Tickets
Representing Yourself in Traffic 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.
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.
Does the Police Officer Come to Court?
Most police officers do appear for traffic court and “occasionally” they do not appear. An officer may not appear in court 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 prior authorisation the office can be disciplined or fined by management.
Strict Liability Offences
Speeding is considered an absolute liability offence.
Absolute liability means that what the driver was thinking or attempting to do at the time of the incident is irrelevant to the charge.
The prosecution only has to prove that the driver committed the act for a conviction to be registered.
Any explanation that the driver was trying to avoid an incident or was driving fast because of an issue will not get the charge canceled.
Defence of Necessity
Drivers may make the defence of necessity to the court.
The driver must prove to the court that the reason they were speeding was because they were either:
- rushing someone to medical aid
- fleeing from direct and imitate danger
The defendant must prove to the court that:
- there was immediate risk or danger
- the emergency was unforeseen
- there was no other alternative
- the harm created was less than created
In a medical emergency the driver must give evidence to the court that they were actually engaged in either taking someone to immediate medical aid where no other means existed.
Where driver is fleeing danger, the drive must give evidence that there was no alternative and they were driving to a place of safety, e.g. a police station.
Errors on the Offence Notice
The defendant may complain to the judge that there is an error or defect on the ticket.
Many errors or defects are allowed to be amended (fixed) by the court under the Provincial Offences Act.
Errors and defects are classified as fatal errors or amendable by the court.
Where there is a fatal error on the offence notice the judge should cancel the offence. Examples could be:
- no date on ticket
- officer didn’t sign the ticket
- no fine on the ticket
- no jurisdiction on ticket
- ticket not filed at court properly
Many times technical errors which resulted in the dropping of charges include an incorrect or missing information on the ticket.