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Dispute a ticket to avoid a driving prohibition

There are many reasons to dispute a traffic ticket. For example, you might think something about what happened simply wasn’t right. But one of the main reasons to dispute a ticket is to avoid a driving prohibition and that makes a lot of sense.

In British Columbia, it’s fairly rare to get a ticket. Unlike most other provinces, you can be on the road for hours without seeing any police presence whatsoever. The government knows this and to some extent, it operates on the assumption that if you broke the law once, you’ve probably done it many times before and simply not been caught.

It’s actually a reasonable assumption when you think about it. If you’ve got a cell phone ticket, that was probably not the first time you held your phone in your hand while behind the wheel on the road. This is common human behaviour. This type of assumption about human behaviour is not, however, the way we operate in the justice system. More on that is below.

Assumptions about human behaviour have a place in our system when it comes to the regulation of licensing. In BC we have the primary government agency, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, that determines whether your poor driving behaviour should cost you your license. The job of that office is to protect the public from people who don’t follow the rules of the road.

This is an issue of administration and proactively protecting the public. With these two concepts in mind, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles is essentially permitted and tasked with relying on assumptions about human behaviour such as that if you got one conviction for an offence, you probably did it many times and this was the one time you were caught.

Justice system assumptions

Traffic tickets are not governed by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles – they are dealt with in court. When dealing with innocence or guilt, traffic court only considers the issue of the allegation before it. In other words, the justice presiding in court hears the facts presented about the specific incident and determines whether the case has been made out by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are a few important key things here. First, there is no assumption that if you did it once you probably did it before. “Probably” isn’t a primary factor in traffic court. Second, it is the obligation of the prosecutor (in BC traffic court the police officer) to prove the case. Thirdly, the important aspects of the allegation must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for conviction.

These are protections that you have in traffic court. They don’t exist when it comes to the Superintendent’s considerations which is a fundamental thing to remember.

Where justice meets assumptions

Consider the hurdle of the prosecution in traffic court and the message that a conviction sends to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. Once a conviction is on your record, right or wrong, in our society we hold it as a fact that you committed an offence.

Remember, paying a ticket instead of disputing it is pleading guilty. It is then a fact – no longer an allegation.

The Superintendent looks at that conviction on your driving record and decides what is necessary to regulate you as a result of your bad driving behaviour. When the Superintendent sees that conviction, they know the significance of the finding of guilt.

They know they may make assumptions about your behaviour thinking ahead about the protection of the public. They have one tool, the imposition of a driving prohibition. The obligation to regulate for the protection of the public means they need to be proactive in the steps they take.

One ticket may trigger a driving prohibition

If you have a class 7 license, one traffic ticket conviction will usually trigger a driving prohibition. This may seem harsh (it is harsh). Nevertheless, it flows from the assumptions the Superintendent is permitted to make for the protection of the public in the regulation of who gets to hold a license and when.

If you have a full license, for example, a class 1, 4 or 5, two tickets in less than two years can trigger the Superintendent to issue a driving prohibition.

How to avoid being an assumption?

Bearing in mind that the ticket you were given may trigger a Superintendent’s driving prohibition based on assumptions about your behaviour, the correct course of action to avoid being an assumption is to dispute the ticket.

This is one of the most important things we do. We dispute tickets for people. The idea is to rely on the protections in traffic court to avoid our clients needing to face consideration of their driving record by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.

If you wish to dispute a ticket to avoid a driving prohibition, call us now. We’re the BC Driving Lawyers. We have the experience and skills to help you with your traffic ticket case.