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The cost of a ticket in BC

The Cost of a Ticket in BC

We are asked from time to time why you should dispute a traffic ticket in BC. In a previous blog post we explained why we fight traffic tickets. Not all lawyers like to do this sort of work, but we enjoy it. But the reason that we go to court for traffic tickets is because of the cost of a ticket in BC. Often people don’t realize that a traffic ticket can trigger a series of costly and painful repercussions, including driving prohibitions, fines, lost wages and damaged self-esteem.

Recently we received an email from a reader of our blog concerning the repercussions for him when he received some tickets. He describes his driving. It doesn’t appear that he posed any threat to the public in his manner of driving. It was just every-day driving in BC. But the tickets triggered a series of events that we can all learn from.

My first speeding ticket! I laughed and paid the ticket and thought not much about it afterward.

With his permission, we reproduce the entire email here so you can more fully understand the cost of a ticket in BC. We thank this fellow for telling us about his experience.

I just came across your blog from a twitter retweet. I don’t know if there is any benefit to my sharing my story, but I am still angry about it, and if anything, writing it down might help a bit.

I am a 34 year old BC resident and I currently hold a BC Novice Drivers License. I have had my “N” for approximately ten years now.

In my early twenties (2000-2005) I did not own a car and had little reason to upgrade my license. In 2005 I began to drive on a regular basis, and on a couple of occasions had scheduled a road test to upgrade to a class 5. On two different occasions I received a phone call from ICBC saying they had overbooked my scheduled test and I would need to reschedule. My work had no set schedule and I was unable to determine when I could reschedule for the test, so I waited. After some time I was able to schedule another road test — this time successfully. I arrived on time, but during the pre-test vehicle inspection, a tail-light was found to have gone out and the road-test was cancelled. I fixed it in the parking lot of Canadian Tire less than 15 minutes later, but it was too late.

That was the last time I bothered to schedule a test. I thought that the difficulty and inconvenience of scheduling was not worth the upgrade in my license at the time. I was definitely wrong.

Around August of 2009 I received my first ever speeding ticket. It was for normal speeding (I was doing 75km/h in a 50 zone — along with everyone else) and I was pulled over with a group of about six other vehicles, a few hundred meters before the posted limit increased to 70. It was almost a novelty to me. My first speeding ticket! I laughed and paid the ticket and thought not much about it afterward.

Then, about six months later, in Feb 2010, I received a second speeding ticket. I was driving on a near empty highway (it was just after 11pm) in good weather doing about 110km/h in a 90 zone. A police officer was driving the other direction and I passed him as he was stopped in the left turn lane. He did a u-turn in the intersection, turned on his lights and pulled me over. “Crap,” I thought. “Another speeding ticket.”

The second ticket proved to be far more costly. I did not know at the time, but the ticket put me at 6 points and I received an automatic driving prohibition for four months. I paid $100 to have the prohibition reviewed and one month was taken off.

I worked at the time in community health care and I needed to drive in order to visit my clients at their homes. I was lucky to have kept my job, but my work hours were significantly reduced. So, in addition the $180 speeding ticket, the $100 review fee, the $250 reinstatement fee and the $300 in points paid to ICBC, I also lost about 100 hours of work at $18/hr.

Also, my 2 year “N” period began anew after my license was reinstated, so I was unable to upgrade until around April 2012. But that didn’t matter because in late December, 2011, I was caught in a speed trap doing 71km/hr in a 50 zone and given a ticket. I pleaded with the officer to consider giving me just a warning and outlined my situation. The officer was condescending and said “With your driving record?”

I was sure this ticket would result in another prohibition — my second prohibition on only three tickets for normal speeding in my entire life! And I was right. Just a few months before I was eligible to upgrade to a class 5, I received another prohibition, this one for 3 months, and as a result I lost my job.

As of today, I am still a few months away from being able to take a road test (July, 2014 cannot come soon enough!). All told, I think that my three speeding tickets have cost me in the neighborhood of $6000-$8000, accounting for lost wages. That doesn’t account for the mental anguish that followed, either. I am not an overly emotional or dramatic person, but the second prohibition triggered the beginning of a personal depression that I am still recovering from.

I do not feel that on any of these occasions where I was ticketed that I posed any undue risk that should warrant such a gross personal cost to myself. In fact, as a result, especially as my road test date approaches, I am so worried about getting another ticket that I am finding I pay less attention to the road as I am constantly looking down at the speedometer to make sure I can’t be caught speeding again.

I don’t know if others have similar stories to mine, but I can’t imagine I am alone. Thanks for doing the work you do, and had I known there were lawyers who feel as you do and are working to protect people in my shoes, I would have come to you when I could. If my story can help someone else in any way, please feel free to pass it along.