Skip to main content

Three mistakes people make defending their own traffic tickets

If a BC police officer issues you a traffic ticket, you should consider disputing it. In a recent blog post, we discussed six reasons to defend a traffic ticket. You may be considering representing yourself in court or paying the fine, but hiring a British Columbia driving lawyer to defend your ticket may be the best decision you make.

How lawyers avoid the risks

In most cases a lawyer can appear in court as your agent, so you do not need to attend. This is a special authority granted to lawyers. Why is this important? Your defence should not hinge on whether you are a strong public speaker or have lots of free time.

Many people fear attending court and we understand that. In our offices, we defend most cases as the agent for our clients because we know that our client’s time is valuable too.

Mistake 1 – fixing the prosecution case

When a lawyer represents you on a traffic ticket, they are in the position to speak to the officer about the ticket without compromising defences. Because the lawyer can never be a witness against their client in the trial of a traffic ticket case, the lawyer may be able to explain circumstances that make the case more
complex than the officer understood.

When a lawyer is acting for the driver, pre-trial discussions usually take place in the hallway and very often they conclude with a resolution that minimizes the damage to the driver. This is important. Self-represented drivers rarely understand the strengths and weaknesses of their own case. As a result, when a
self-represented driver speaks to the officer, they may correct problems with the police case and undermine the strength of their own case.

We see this with some regularity. What happens is the police officer has a chat with the self-represented person in the hallway or in a meeting room at the courthouse. The officer learns from the person something that was missing or they clarify an unclear essential element of their case. As well, police will use the discussion to remind themselves of what happened assisting them to prosecute the case.

Mistake 2 – Not understanding the defences

One regular mistake that self-represented defendants make is focusing on something that is not a substantive argument going to the heart of the case. They may argue that rights were violated when in fact no such particular right exists in the context of a traffic ticket.

We have noted that when self-represented drivers try a DIY defence, the matter usually ends up with the driver pleading guilty to the offence as charged, or a trial where they lose. As indicated, the primary reason the self-represented people lose in traffic court is that something they did or said in their dealings with the officer leading up to the actual trial has assisted the officer.

As well, it is common for self-represented drivers to think they have a particular defence that does not exist as a recognized defence in law.

Mistake 3 – not understanding the trial process

Finally, it is very common to see self-represented drivers fail to understand the court process. Traffic court follows the same general court procedure as a murder trial. The onus is on the parties to call admissible evidence at the right time in the right way and to ensure certain points in evidence are established.

It is almost trite that self-represented drivers fail to challenge the right police evidence and call the right evidence during the moment when they are permitted to call evidence or rely on a faulty prosecution case.

Why hire a lawyer to defend a traffic ticket?

Very often a lawyer may be able to negotiate a resolution without compromising your defences. When a driving lawyer speaks to the police officer outside of court, little from the conversation will assist the officer to prosecute the ticket.

Also, your driving lawyer is likely to have a good idea about what defences, if any, are valid and may lead to an acquittal.

Finally, the lawyer will know how and when to deal with each aspect of the trial. In other words, the lawyer will know what evidence to challenge, and how and when to challenge it.

Going to court can be a risky, time-consuming and stressful process, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal system. A driving lawyer can handle the legal proceedings, conduct a trial or negotiate a resolution on your behalf, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your life.

If you have a traffic ticket, give us a call. We are the original BC Driving Lawyers. We have been leading the way for decades. We would be happy to speak to you about your ticket.