Traffic Violations in Victoria
Traffic offences are the most frequent charges by police in Victoria. While traffic offences are punished under provincial legislation and are not criminal offences, they can still have significant and adverse impacts on your life. In British Columbia The Motor Vehicle Act defines road laws. It outlines laws that govern the operation of motor vehicles on B.C. roads and defines the rules of the road and related offences and sanctions
If you have been charged with a traffic offence, it has probably happened either because you were caught by a traffic camera, or because you were pulled over by a police officer after they saw you committing an offence. If you were caught by a traffic camera, you will receive a letter in the mail stating what your offence was, how much your fine is, and when you have to pay it. It’s important to remember that only certain offences can be prosecuted using a traffic camera.
What is the difference between a violation ticket and an appearance notice or summons?
When you are charged with a traffic offence, you will receive written notice of your charge. The type of notice you receive will be determined by the seriousness of the traffic infraction. This will determine whether you have to attend in court to speak to your charge, and will also determine the process by which you may dispute the allegation.
The police will issue a violation ticket where the traffic offence is less serious in nature. The ticket will list the traffic offence(s) you are charged with, as well as a specified fine penalty amount for each offence. If you decide that you do not what to dispute the traffic ticket, you will not be required to attend court, and will simply have to pay the specified fine penalty.
While many people chose not to, it is absolutely your right to dispute a violation ticket. In Victoria you must act quickly as you have 30 days from when the ticket is issued to register the fact that you intend to dispute that ticket. Technically, an application must be filed either by you, or on your behalf by one of our experienced defence lawyers. These applications can be filed at an ICBC office, Provincial Court or Service BC location. Once the government is made aware that you intend to fight your ticket, you, or your lawyer on your behalf, will receive a court date by mail. The sooner you are able to get effective legal advice, the better your chance will be at a successful outcome. And while some tickets are simply associated with a fine amount, certain tickets come with far more serious consequences.
Appearance Notice or Summons
The police will issue an appearance notice or summons where the traffic offence is more serious in nature. You will receive an appearance notice directly from a police officer when you are charged, whereas a summons is either delivered to you or sent to you via mail.
The purpose of an appearance notice or summons is to inform you of the traffic offence you have been charged with, as well as to compel you attend court on a particular date. There is no specified fine penalty amount on an appearance notice or summons, as the penalty for these traffic offences is to be determined by the court depending on the circumstances. Failure to appear will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest, which can create embarrassment and inconvenience when you do get arrested.
When you attend for your court appearance you will be required to enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.” If you plead guilty the judge will determine the appropriate penalty for the offence. This may include a fine, license suspension, probation, or even jail. If you plead not guilty, a date for a hearing will be set. At the hearing the Judge will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty of the traffic offence in question.
How do I know if I should hire a lawyer to help me with my traffic matter?
In general, the more serious the ticket or the consequences of the ticket, the more important it is for you to consider hiring a lawyer to help you deal with the ticket.
Some tickets are not very serious, and dealing with them probably does not require the assistance of a lawyer. For example, photo tickets, parking tickets, and other “registered owner” offences carry no penalty points because they are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle and not to the driver. Also, they do not affect your driving record, your insurance rates, or, if the vehicle ticketed was a commercial vehicle, your National Safety Code Profile (or “Carrier Profile”). So, in these cases, your best course of action may be to fight the ticket on your own if you feel that you are not guilty of the offence or pay the fine if you are guilty of the offence. Of course, you may simply not have enough time to fight the ticket on your own, or you may be pre-occupied with other things. If so, we will happily assist you in fighting the ticket so that you do not have to worry about it.
Other tickets are much more serious. For example, beyond attracting high fines, there may be significant penalty points attached to a conviction for certain offences. If you collect more than three points on your driving record during your 12-month assessment period you will pay a Driver Penalty Point premium. This premium is separate from your Autoplan insurance premium, and will be billed even if you don’t own or insure a vehicle. The premiums range from $210 for four points to $28,800 for 50 or more points. To make matters worse, if you receive too many penalty points within a two-year period, you may be subjected to a driving prohibition pursuant to the Driver Improvement Program’s policies and guidelines.
One of the most serious offences in the Motor Vehicles Act is driving while prohibited. On a first conviction, the judge must fine you at least $500 up to $2000, and may sentence you to jail for up to six months. You will also be prohibited from driving for at least 12-months. For a second or further offence, the judge must sentence you to a period of jail not less than 14-days, and not more than one year, in addition to a fine between $500 – $2000, and a minimum 12-month driving prohibition. In addition to the foregoing, the offence of driving while prohibited attracts 10 penalty points against your license.
You should contact us immediately to set up a free consultation if you have been issued a ticket or appearance notice for any serious traffic offence, or if the ticket you were issued puts you at risk of losing your license. Should you retain us, we will review the evidence against you, appear in court on your behalf, negotiate with the Crown, and, if necessary, avidly defend you at trial. We have ample experience dealing with a wide range of traffic offences and have been able to secure favourable resolutions for our clients in the vast majority of cases.
What should I do if I’ve been in an accident?
If you have been in an accident, you must remain at the scene of the accident or, if you have left the scene of the accident, immediately return to the scene unless otherwise directed by a peace officer. By law, if the estimated total of damage resulting from the collision is $1000 or more, in British Columbia you must also report the accident to police within 24 hours. If you have been involved in an accident with a parked vehicle and cannot find the owner, leave your contact information on the windshield of the parked vehicle.
Although you are required to report an accident, you are not required to admit guilt, even if the accident was your fault. Do not admit anything to the police or the other driver(s). Even an apology can be interpreted as an admission of guilt. People who have been in accidents occasionally admit guilt at the roadside or on the collision report, if only inadvertently. If you have been in an accident you should contact us immediately. Liability can often hinge on the outcome of the associated traffic charge when an accident occurs, so it is important to guard against self-incrimination. We will assist you in crafting a collision statement that is not self-incriminating.