Motor Vehicle Violation Tickets (13:V)
A. General Information
What is commonly referred to as a “speeding ticket” issued in accordance with the provisions of the Offence Act is known legally as a provincial “Violation Ticket”. This section provides information on Violation Tickets, including how to dispute a Violation Ticket.
An individual charged under the Motor Vehicle Act will receive a Violation Ticket issued under s 14 of the Offence Act. However, under s 11 of the Offence Act, a person can also be charged criminally for a violation of the Motor Vehicle Act. This is for serious offences such as Motor Vehicle Act ss 95 and 102 (driving while prohibited). When charged for serious motor vehicle offences you will be issued a promise to appear and court attendance is compulsory if an Information is laid. For Violation Tickets, court attendance is only required if a Violation Ticket is disputed. If you fail to appear in court for a Violation Ticket, your non-attendance is deemed not disputed and you will be found guilty of the offence.
B. How to Dispute a Violation Ticket
These procedures may change from time to time. Refer to the information on the back of your Violation Ticket for the most up-to-date information.
The special procedure for adjudicating Violation Tickets is set out in ss 14–18 of the Offence Act. To dispute a Violation Ticket, one must either go to an ICBC office or provincial court registry with the ticket, or mail a “Notice of Dispute Form PTR021”, as well as a copy of the Violation Ticket to: "Ticket Dispute Processing, Bag #3510, Victoria, BC, V8W 3P7". The Notice of Dispute must contain the address of the accused, a copy of the Violation Ticket, and if a copy of the the Violation Ticket is not available, sufficient information to identify the Violation Ticket and the alleged contravention or fine disputed (Offence Act s 15(3)).
You must file your Notice of Dispute within 30 days of the day on which the ticket was issued.
Motor Vehicle Act s 124 gives municipalities authority to create motor vehicle bylaws on matters such as parking and to enforce them by fine or imprisonment under s 124(1)(u). Municipalities cannot use this authority with respect to speeding (s 124(2)). An individual charged with a bylaw offence will receive a bylaw infraction notice or a Municipal Ticket Information. While the following generally applies to these offences, special procedures may be imposed. Follow the procedures outlined on the bylaw infraction notice or Municipal Ticket Information.
More information on disputing Violation Tickets is available on the BC Ministry of Justice website at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/law-crime-and-justice/courthouse-services/fines-payments/disputing-paying-tickets/vt-brochure.pdf
1. What if you miss the 30-day time limit?
If you do not file your dispute within 30 days, you must file an “Affidavit Form PTR020”, pursuant to s 16(2) of the Offence Act, available at any court registry, explaining the reasons for your delay, along with the “Notice of Dispute Form PTR021” and a copy of the ticket. Extensions are not guaranteed, and are at the judicial discretion of the justice of the peace considering your application. Be as detailed as possible and provide all evidence available in support.
2. How Do I Prepare for Court for a Violation Ticket?
In challenging a ticket, it is important to:
- Read the relevant sections of the Motor Vehicle Act to determine the elements of the offence and, if the Crown fails to lead evidence on any of these elements, motion for dismissal at the conclusion of the Crown’s case can be made. The evidence must include identification of the alleged offender by name and address as well as the time, date, and location of the offence.
- Request for all relevant disclosure from the police detachment, this includes asking for police notes, all witness statements, and any information or training that the officer intends to rely on at trial.
- Pursuant to s 100 of the Offence Act, the Crown can apply to amend most mistakes on Violation Tickets, however there is a one-year statutory limit to make amendments.
For more detailed information on disputing Violation Tickets, you may wish to consult the University of Victoria Law Centre’s information on defending traffic tickets at https://www.uvic.ca/law/about/centre/resources/defending%20traffic%20tickets.php.
3. What happens in traffic court?
When you attend traffic court, your case will generally be presided over by a Judicial Justice of the Peace (“the Justice”), and not a Judge. Justices of the Peace are addressed as “Your Worship”. The Justice will guide the hearing process. There is generally no Crown Prosecutor in traffic court; police officers prosecute the tickets.
Arrive at court at least 15 minutes before the scheduled court time. This provides you with the opportunity to speak to the officer before the courtroom opens. If you are intending to take the matter to trial, it is recommended that you send in a disclosure request to the police detachment requesting: the police notes; general occurrence report, witness statements; if a speeding ticket, any evidence relation to the calibration of the laser or radar gun. The police officer has a disclosure obligation pursuant to "R v Stinchcombe",  3 SCR 326.
Police officers can provide testimony in person, via video- or tele-conference, or by certificate. You cannot be convicted without the evidence of the officer who issued you the ticket. If the police officer who issued your ticket does not attend in person or electronically, and has not submitted a certificate, a different officer present cannot provide evidence to convict you.
If you plead guilty and are applying for a fine reduction, the offender must show economic hardship, the justice of the peace has the power to reduce the fine. Section 88 of the Offence Act states that the fine can be reduced based on the offender’s means and ability to pay, subject to minimum fines specified in the Motor Vehicle Act.
A record of the finding is sent to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (hereinafter, the “Superintendent”). Any discretionary determination made by the Superintendent may, in certain circumstances, be subject to judicial review.
The decision of a Provincial Court judge or justice of the peace may be appealed to the Supreme Court of BC. However there is a strict 30-day appeal limit. Any individual looking to appeal a violation ticket should consult a lawyer.
4. What happens if the Police Officer Does Not Show Up?
The officer who issued the Violation Ticket must provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offence in question. The officer must prove the offence beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the officer cannot prove the offence beyond a reasonable doubt if the officer who issued the ticket is not present. In such situations, you should plead “not guilty”. The presiding justice will most likely dismiss the ticket for “want of prosecution” and the ticket will be dismissed.
If you plead not guilty, the officer may attempt to adjourn the matter to another day when the other officer can attend. You should oppose this adjournment, and note that you were not given advance notice.
5. What happens if I cannot make the court appearance?
You can apply to a justice for an adjournment, by filing the “Application to Adjourn a Hearing PTR818” form. This form can be filed by mailing it to the Violation Ticket Centre address listed above, or filing it at any court registry. All applications should be made within 2 weeks of the scheduled hearing date. In urgent circumstances you can have a lawyer, friend or family member attend and make an application for an adjournment at the date and time of the scheduled hearing.
6. What if you miss the court date?
If you do not attend the hearing, the ticket will be deemed not disputed, the conviction will apply to your driving record, and the full fine amount will be immediately payable.
Within 30 days of missing the scheduled hearing date you may file an “Affidavit Form PTR019” pursuant to s 15(10) of the Offence Act, requesting a new hearing date at the registry of the provincial court where your ticket was set to be heard. After 30 days from the missed hearing date you must file “Affidavit form PTR020”, pursuant to s 16(2) of the Offence Act.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on August 21, 2020.|
|© Copyright 2020, The Greater Vancouver Law Students' Legal Advice Society.|