Skip to main content

A good defence to a traffic ticket

You might think you’re guilty and yet still have a good defence to a traffic ticket. We have defended thousands of traffic tickets and we have developed many good defences to traffic tickets that you would likely never have considered. There are many factors at play.

The burdens: It’s important to remember that a traffic ticket, unlike an Immediate Roadside Prohibition, for example, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. So although it may seem like you are presumed guilty from the start because you need to dispute the ticket, when it comes time to go to court it is up to the government to persuade the presiding justice that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Theoretically, this is a high threshold. Practically speaking, if you’re in court every day it may not seem to be applied in such a manner. The police may appear to have a credibility advantage but with the right defence, the right challenge to their evidence, that advantage to the extent that it exists, may collapse in the trial.

The burden is on the police to call the evidence and prove the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the first advantage you have in a good defence to a traffic ticket.

The process: Once the traffic ticket has been filed in dispute, it is up to the courts to get the matter set for a hearing in a reasonable time. If you impede a speedy date for a hearing you can expect to lose when it comes time to argue a delay, but legitimate delays that are the fault of the court or the police can cause a ticket to be thrown out upon a Charter application. Similarly, if not enough time is scheduled for your hearing and that causes a delay that’s not your fault, you may have a defence in the process. A proper cross-examination in a traffic ticket hearing may be as short as a few minutes, but in certain cases, we have conducted traffic ticket trials that take most of a court day or longer.

The reasoning: The justices who preside over traffic ticket trials are required to provide cogent and coherent reasons for their decision that addresses the key conflicts in the evidence and correctly applies the law. This can be difficult, particularly when the evidence is complex and the cross-examination of the ticketing officer has brought up concerns with the reliability of the evidence.

Reliability of evidence: A good defence to a traffic ticket often comes down to the reliability of the evidence. The police make notes, often in code, which may bolster the reliability of their evidence. This brings us to the key takeaway here which is if you want a good defence to a traffic ticket, it is often wise to take notes of the event as soon as you reasonably can once you are not in view of the police.

Notes are written soon after a traffic stop are likely to be viewed as more reliable than ones taken days or weeks later.

What do you do with your notes? You give them to your lawyer who decides whether you actually have a good defence to a traffic ticket.

Every traffic ticket is different. If you want us to see if you have a good defence to a traffic ticket, simply phone us and we can discuss it.