To fight a traffic ticket: worthwhile or waste of time?

February 6, 2014

You just got a traffic ticket that seems outrageously unfair! Is it worth your while or a waste of time to fight it? Here are both sides of the case.

To fight a traffic ticket: worthwhile or waste of time?

If in doubt, don’t!

When a police officer tells you the reason for giving you a traffic ticket,above all stay calm and keep quiet. Anything you say may be used against you in court. If you decide to enter a not guilty plea, make sure you have concrete evidence in your favour. Arguments such as "I didn’t know that law” or "I didn’t see that sign" don’t hold much water.

Get out your calculator

Sometimes, choosing to fight traffic tickets is more a question of math rather than one of justice. Get out your calculator and do the math:

  • If you lose, you will have to pay the ticket fine along with any accrued interest.
  • You could have to pay some additional administrative costs.
  • When you fight traffic tickets you inevitably lose productivity at work or have to miss work, which means loss of income.

If you fight it

The procedure for fighting traffic tickets is usually indicated on the back of the ticket itself. Although it varies by jurisdiction, generally you have 30 days after the date of the offence in which to communicate your intention to contest the fine. You may then have to wait up to a year, or sometimes even longer, before your case goes to court.

Meanwhile, get ready

  • Put your version of the facts down on paper as soon as possible, while it is still fresh in your memory. To make your testimony more credible, add any details you noted at the time of the incident (including the day of the week, the number of cars on the road, and the distance separating you from the police).
  • Return to the site of the incident and take pictures as evidence, if possible.
  • Collect any documents that can help your cause, such as maps, sketches, invoices, and statements.
  • Call any witnesses and ask them if you can rely on their testimony in court.
  • You can even request a copy of the police report, called a disclosure, to help you prepare. However, you must apply for this at the same time you communicate your intention to fight the traffic ticket.

On court day

  • Dress neatly and conservatively. Doing so shows respect for the court and makes a good impression.
  • Arrive early. Observe how other trials are conducted so you will be more comfortable when it is your turn.
  • Address the judge as "Your Honour". Be calm, polite, and tell the truth.

Call on the expertise of specialists

Pleading a case is not for everyone. If you feel uncomfortable speaking in your own defence, or if your situation is complex (for example, if losing more demerit points could result in losing your driver’s license), consult a lawyer or one of many firms specialized in fighting traffic tickets. If you want to fight traffic tickets, a bit of legal advice could make all the difference between winning and losing.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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