I was ticketed for speeding a month ago but, the officer wrote down my street name incorrectly on the ticket. Is this, or any other wrong information on a citation, grounds to have the charge dismissed? – Josh, Clarington, Ont.
If you're Jon Jones of 11 Foster Street and your speeding ticket says Joe Jonas on 77 Easter Street, you'll probably still have to pay it.
"An incorrect address would not result in the ticket being quashed by the presiding Justice of The Peace," says Toronto traffic lawyer Kevin Burrows. "The error does however go to the quality of the officer's evidence, should a trial ensue."
A ticket could have your name, address and driver's licence number wrong - and it could still stick, Burrows says.
"There is widespread misunderstanding that defending tickets is about finding minor errors, this is absolutely not the case," Burrows says.
That doesn't mean that you shouldn't fight a ticket - even if you know you were speeding. Even though a typo won't get it thrown out, most tickets can at least be reduced, Burrows says.
"This will sound self-serving, but there's almost always something that could be done," Burrows says. "It's rare for there to be a ticket that can't be reduced in some meaningful way."
If you pay a speeding ticket, you're automatically convicted – and that conviction appears on your driving record.
In Ontario, getting a professional could cost you $250 or more, which may be more than the fine.
"Should people defend themselves? Not if they can afford a professional," Burrows says. "If a person cannot afford a professional then yes, trying to defend the ticket on your own is probably better than paying the ticket; unless it is a very minor offence."
Burrows says paralegal and law firms offer free consultations and getting one is a good idea.
Getting fewer demerits probably won't save you from an insurance hike. But getting the charge dismissed might.
When insurance companies set your rates, they don't look at demerits. They look at the number - and type - of convictions you've had in the past three years.
Some companies let you get away with your first minor conviction, but others may raise your rates right away.
But, the insurance company has to know about the ticket. It costs money to get a copy of your driving record, so often they rely on you to tell them when you get a ticket.
There are situations where a few extra demerits may get your licence suspended.
In Ontario, speeding 30-49 km/h over the limit is four demerits; 16-29 km/h over is three and there are no demerits of you're 15 km/h or less over the limit.
For G1 or G2 drivers, six demerits could be enough to get a licence suspension.
When fighting a ticket, excuses like "but they didn't ticket all those other guys going faster than me," won't work, Burrows says.
"There are a number of technical defences we could use," Burrows says. "Problems with the filing, jurisdictional errors, disclosure not being complete."
There may also be something missing in the officers notes. The officer has to be qualified to use the radar device and it would have to be tested before they used it, Burrows says.
Have a driving question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Canada's a big place, so please let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.
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