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Debunking traffic ticket myths, the whole truth

You’ve received a traffic ticket, now what’s next?

When dealing with your traffic ticket, do you know the difference between myth and reality? For example, it’s a common myth that if the police officer doesn’t show up in court your York Region traffic ticket will be thrown out. York Regional Police attend court over 94 per cent of the time.

The team in York Region’s Court Services has delved into the most talked-about myths, and now we’re here to share why they’re wrong. Test your knowledge by reading below.

1. Myth: Holding my cellphone while stopped at a red light is not an offence



Reality. You cannot hold a hand held communication device while driving, even when you are stopped at a red light. If you are caught with a hand held device in your hand while driving (or stopped at a red light), even if the power of the device is turned off, you can be charged. The only exception to this is if you are calling the police, fire department, or emergency medical services.

As of January 1, 2019, if you receive a Hand Held Communication Ticket for a first offence the minimum fine is $500 and on conviction your driver’s licence will be suspended for three days.

2. Myth: If I ignore my ticket after receiving it in the mail or from an officer, nothing will happen


Reality. If you receive an Offence Notice (commonly called a ticket), you have 15 days to select an option from the back of the ticket. If you do not choose an option, the ticket will be reviewed by a Justice of the Peace who may convict you in your absence. Additional charges will be applied if convicted. Once you have been convicted it is too late to choose any of the options indicated on the back of your ticket.

3. Myth: Court staff can negotiate the fine amount with you at the front counter



Reality. Court staff cannot make any changes to the fine amount on your ticket or on your court order. Only the Justice of the Peace has the ability to change the fine after a conviction has been registered.

4. Myth: Court staff have the ability to reduce demerit points



Reality. York Region Court staff and the Justice of the Peace do not have the ability to remove or reduce demerit points. Driving-related demerit points are automatically imposed by law if you are found guilty of certain driving offences.Visit the Ministry of Transportation's website for more information on demerit points.


5. Myth: If I ignore my fines after a conviction, they will go away



Reality. Fines are court orders and remain owing until paid, even if you claim bankruptcy. There is no statute of limitations when it comes to outstanding fines. At any time the court may apply enforcement actions (i.e. licence suspension, garnishment of wages etc.).


6. Myth: If a police officer doesn't show for court, the ticket is immediately withdrawn



Reality. It will be up to the prosecutor to decide how to proceed when the officer doesn’t show for court.  Depending on the charge, the prosecutor can proceed with the matter without the officer being present or they can ask the court to adjourn the matter to another day. York Regional Police attend court over 94% of the time.





Court Services is here to help. For more information visit york.ca/courts



Take care of your tickets in three easy steps

What are my options if I receive an Offence Notice (commonly called a ticket)?

If you receive a ticket and find yourself at a crossroads, you must choose one of the three options listed on the back of your ticket within 15 days. It’s important to take one of three routes in order to resolve your ticket, as failure to do anything could result in conviction, which will incur additional costs.

Route 1. Plead guilty and pay the total fine

Plead guilty and pay the total fine

By choosing this option, you are admitting that you are guilty and you must pay the total payable at the bottom of your ticket. You can pay the fine online, by mail or in person at any Provincial Offences Court location. Cheques should be made payable to the Regional Municipality of York.


Route 2. Plead guilty before the Justice of the Peace

Plead guilty before the Justice of the Peace

Get out your compass (or GPS) and go to the court office shown on the ticket to plead guilty in person before a Justice of the Peace. You can ask the Justice of the Peace for a lower fine or additional time to pay. It will be up to the Justice to make the final decision. You cannot speak to the Justice of the Peace by telephone. Please call the court office ahead of time to ensure judicial availability.

It is important to understand that a Justice of the Peace cannot remove or reduce demerit points and cannot reduce the charge. Demerit points are applied by the Ministry of Transportation upon conviction and the court cannot change the demerit points to be applied. More information on the demerit point system can be obtained from Ministry of Transportation.


Route 3. Plead not guilty – go to trial

Plead not guilty - go to trial
If you believe you are not guilty of the charge noted on your ticket, you must sign the back of your ticket under option 3 and mail or deliver it in person to the address on the ticket. Make sure to keep a copy of your ticket for your records. You will be notified of your upcoming trial date by mail. Notify the court office of any change in address so that your trial notice goes to the proper address. If you do not receive a notice of trial in 5 to 6 weeks, contact the court office to confirm the status.


* If you fail to respond to the charge, you may be convicted. Upon conviction, additional costs will be applied.

Court Services is here to help. For more information visit york.ca/courts

 


Related Resources

york.ca/courts


How to pay a ticket; traffic ticket myths The Regional Municipality of York en-US Three easy steps to take care of your ticket Debunking traffic ticket myths, the whole truth If you receive a ticket (also called an offence notice) don’t panic. There are three easy steps you can choose when you find yourself at this crossroads. Which direction will you take?

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