How frustrated are you when you get a speeding ticket? You’re travelling along, and boom, a cop flags you down in your rearview mirror. As aggravating as it can be, you have more options than just paying the violation.
You can fight it.
Considering Alberta issues two million traffic tickets a year, there’s no doubt some citizens will try and get out of it.
So Ii you were wondering how to fight a speeding ticket in Alberta, I’ve researched my options and compiled steps to take if you want to challenge your violation. Here’s what you should know.
- Do Not Pay The Ticket
- File for Disclosure and Gather Evidence
- Review Your Ticket
- Decide If You Need a Lawyer
- Research Speed Equipment
- Attend the Trial
We’ve all occasionally gone a few kilometres over the speed limit, but if you get caught and get a ticket, consider fighting it. Here’s why.
Now, this doesn’t mean I think you should fight a ticket if you’ve been driving drunk or very recklessly. Instead, this advice is meant for infractions just a few kilometres over the limit.
First off, that ticket on your record could mean demerit points. Your license gets suspended if you accumulate 15 demerit points within two years in Alberta.
But more important than those demerit points is your insurance. Every traffic ticket you incur increases your premium, and the more serious the infraction, the more you’ll pay when you renew your insurance policy. Note that this does not apply to photo radar tickets, which do not impact your insurance or demerit points.
A regular traffic violation will stay on your record for three years. More serious offences could last longer and keep your insurance payments high for years.
The bottom line is it might benefit you to try and fight your speeding ticket if it wasn’t a serious offence. It might be worth it to take the time and energy to resolve it than face steeper insurance premiums.
Steps To Fight Your Speeding Ticket in Alberta
1. Do Not Pay The Ticket
The initial step when planning to dispute a speeding ticket is to refrain from paying the fine. When you pay a fine associated with a traffic violation, it is effectively an admission of guilt.
The act of paying the fine concludes the legal process and you forfeit your opportunity to challenge the ticket later. This is why it’s important not to pay the fine until the dispute process has been completed and the matter is entirely resolved.
However, be aware that choosing not to pay the fine initially doesn’t absolve you of potential financial responsibility. If your dispute is unsuccessful, you’ll still be required to pay the fine.
2. File for Disclosure and Gather Evidence
When you get your ticket, it should have information about how to file for a court date. Once you receive your date, immediately file for disclosure so you can get the officer’s notes about the violation.
Depending on how precise the officer’s notes were, you might be able to find a discrepancy that could help you win your case. For example, if the notes have inaccurate details about your vehicle or where the infraction occurred, it might be enough to get you off the hook.
If you believe the charges are incorrect or you want to fight them, you could try and find physical proof or argue the speed limit wasn’t clear.
In those cases, look for dashcam videos or GPS smartphone app evidence – something that will clear you and hold up during court. As for speed limit signs, if one isn’t visible or partially obscured, it could help your case.
You can also look for the following:
Documentation of the Scene: Take photographs of the area where you were pulled over, focusing on road conditions, weather, visibility, traffic signals, or any other notable features. These may be used to support your claim in court.
Witness Information: If there were any witnesses to the incident, it can be helpful to obtain their contact information and account of the event.
Officer Interaction: Make note of your interactions with the traffic officer. Document the conversation as soon as possible after the event while your memory is still fresh.
3. Review Your Ticket
Reading over your ticket meticulously may reveal inaccuracies or errors. Errors could include incorrect or unclear information about the location, time, date, or a misclassification of the alleged offence.
Other discrepancies might be recording an incorrect vehicle or personal information. If you find any mistakes, it could potentially form the basis of your defence, as it could raise doubts about the accuracy of other details on the ticket.
4. Decide If You Need a Lawyer
Certain lawyers specialize in traffic violations. However, they usually help defend those involved in DUIs or more serious crimes. For those offences, it’s probably better to have someone that knows the ins and outs of the law help defend you.
If you’re just looking for a lawyer to help you avoid paying a traffic ticket, maybe reconsider their help. A typical lawyer’s hourly fee ranges from $250 to $500. Sometimes, even more. That’s probably more than your ticket.
If you do end up going to court, the judge may offer you a plea deal. This could mean a payment reduction in your traffic ticket. However, taking the plea deal still means your insurance premiums will increase.
Also, if you hire a lawyer, they’ll essentially get you the same thing – a reduction in the violation, so it’s probably not worth it if you have a small speeding ticket.
The bottom line is to hire a lawyer if you were caught driving drunk or could lose your license, but keep that cash if you just want to get out of paying a traffic ticket.
5. Research Speed Equipment
Source: Ktenas Law
Find out how the officer assessed your speed. If you got a ticket because of a radar gun, ask to have the calibration records disclosed.
In addition, you could use radar manuals, which give suggested maintenance schedules for the equipment. That is a piece of information you can use to question the officer.
6. Attend the Trial
Sometimes, just showing up means you win. If the officer that issued the ticket doesn’t show up, it’s almost automatically a win for you. Considering the officer probably has other cases, there’s a good chance he’s too busy to come to court or just can’t make it.
If the officer does show up, you will have the opportunity to present your case, cross-examine the officer who issued the ticket, present your evidence, and possibly question any witnesses.
So take the time – call off of work and get yourself to the courthouse. It might be the easiest way to resolve your traffic violation.
Whatever you do, make sure that you actually attend the trial. Not showing up could result in an automatic conviction and potentially additional fines.
Be respectful and follow the court procedures. The judge will hear both sides and then make a ruling. Be prepared that this ruling could be against you, in which case you would be required to pay the original fine, and it may affect your driving record and insurance premiums.
Source: Rebel News
Alberta recently halted a plan to change a new way to fight traffic tickets. The proposed change was part of a bill that became law in 2020. However, the rollout of the new plan received much criticism from the public and is currently under review.
The proposed changes overhaul traffic ticket disputes by getting them out of the courtroom to free up resources to focus on more serious crimes.
The plan has two phases. Phase 1 created an adjudication branch that would resolve impaired driving offences. The second phase (currently on hold) aimed to deal with all other traffic violations except those resulting in bodily harm or death.
However, there was much controversy surrounding other parts of Phase 2. To dispute a ticket, drivers need to pay a fee and only have seven days to respond to violations mailed to them.
In addition, fighting the ticket doesn’t require going to court anymore. Instead, you need to pay a fee ($50 to $150) to go in front of an online adjudicator.
While it would eliminate almost 500,000 in-person court visits a year, it’s not sitting right with the Alberta community.
Edmonton-based lawyer Ian Runkle told Global News he’s concerned about Phase 2. “The impact on people, especially marginalized people, is going to be huge. You might be wrongfully accused and still not be able to afford to challenge that.”
He summed it up by saying it seems more like another tax. “The benefits that they’re talking about here are really financial for the province. They want to make it cost less to issue tickets so they can earn more money in the process.”
Is it legal to go 10 km/h over the speed limit in Alberta?
Going over the posted speed limit, regardless of the margin, is technically illegal in Alberta, Canada, as it is in most jurisdictions. Speed limits are set for a reason, and they represent the maximum legal speed that you can travel at under optimal conditions.
If you’re caught exceeding the speed limit by a law enforcement officer, you could be issued a speeding ticket. The penalties can include fines, demerit points, and potential increases to your insurance premiums. In cases of excessive speeding, there may be further consequences, such as license suspension.
While it’s often reported anecdotally that law enforcement might tolerate drivers going a small amount over the speed limit (like 10 km/h), this is not a legal right or guarantee, and the final decision is at the officer’s discretion.
If you get a speeding ticket, don’t automatically pay it. Instead, consider your options and how much your insurance premiums will go up because of it.
It might be more cost-effective for you to fight it. I’ve given you five main steps that could clear your record and save you cash. If you’re looking for other ways to save money, check out these tips.