Traffic Ticket Fallacies

Traffic Ticket WriterI refused to sign the traffic ticket that I got for speeding last week. Does that mean this ticket is invalid and I don't have to pay it? Questions like this one are common from readers who were not happy following their roadside encounter with traffic enforcement.

A violator's signature is not required to make the ticket valid.

Traffic Ticket Errors Are Not Always Fatal

Some errors and omissions on traffic tickets can be fatal to the charge, but you may be surprised at how much information on a ticket can be left out, or even be incorrect and the ticket will still stand. In addition, some errors can be corrected in traffic court before or during the trial as well.

Choosing Not to Sign a Traffic Ticket

Refusing to sign a traffic ticket is your prerogative. Personally, I would want a mark on a legal document about me that I could recognize later on and a signature is one way of accomplishing this. If you choose not to sign, the officer completes a certificate of service on the back of the original copy and this has the same effect as your signature.

No Signature for an Electronic Traffic Ticket

Electronic Tickets are now being issued for Motor Vehicle Act offences in some areas of BC instead of the old school hand written tickets. This new ticket form does not require a signature from either the officer or the driver to be valid. In fact, there is no place to sign them.

The Shaded Areas

Just above the officer's signature on the ticket you will find the words "shaded areas of this ticket are not part of the offence charged." The gray shaded areas of the ticket include your birth date, address, driver's and vehicle licence number and vehicle description. If these spaces are left blank or there are errors in the information they contain, it is not grounds to dismiss the charge for that reason alone.

Making Amendments to Fix Errors

The Offence Act allows amendments to be made to a traffic ticket prior to trial. An officer can also give evidence about the incident and then ask the Justice to amend the ticket to conform to the evidence that was given. In either case, this is at the discretion of the Justice.

Re-service With a New Traffic Ticket

The surest way to amend a ticket is simply to complete a new one and serve it to you with the advice that the old one will not be proceeded with. An officer has one year from the date of the alleged offence to do this.

Legal Advice

So, before you get your hopes up and dispute hoping to win on a technicality, you may wish to consider proper legal advice to insure your success. The British Columbia chapter of Canadian Bar Association operates a lawyer referral service at 1-800-663-1919 that will refer you to a local lawyer with expertise in the required situation. A 15 minute consultation is free of charge.

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Great Post!

Could you expand more on what sorts of omissions and errors are fatal to a charge?

Generally fatal errors include writing the wrong penalty, the wrong section number or the wrong wording for the offence on the ticket. Leaving out a date, place or time or putting an incorrect date on the ticket will also insure its cancellation.

If the officer doesn't sign the ticket, sometimes the ICBC Ticket Unit will return it for signature and sometimes they will cancel the ticket. I'm not sure why it occurs this way.

In all these cases, the officer is left with the option of serving a corrected ticket on the accused driver as there is a one year limitation of action under the Motor Vehicle Act. It is up to the individual officer whether they do so or not.

On the police report I receieved when applying for a review of my IRP, the officer starts his sentence (under the evidence section) with "On Jan 29, 2023, at 0840..."

However, the incident took place on Jan 28, 2023. The file is dated Jan 28, 2023 at 23:13.

Would this result in my appeal being upheld?

I recently received a ticket for "No Insurance", my insurance expired on January 12, 2024. The offence date was January 21st, 2024 ( I was 9 days late in renewing my insurance). I immediately renewed over the phone. I asked the officer to let me off with a warning but he refused.

The officer wrote under description of offences:

"No Insurance, exp: 2023 01 11" 

This was incorrect, and implies I had been driving uninsured for 12 months and 9 days. Intend on disputing the ticket, wondering if I should be pleading guilty and asking for reduced fine ($598!), given I was only 9 days overdue, or if this technicality is enough to cause the ticket to be cancelled.

Thank you!

If the officer had written something other than January 21, 2024 for the offence date when it did occur on that date, then for sure you would have something to argue.

When an incorrect date is put in the description of the offence blank, maybe, maybe not. It would all depend on the justice hearing the dispute.

It is bad practice for the officer to write anything other than No Insurance in that blank.

As for what you should do, consider How to Deal With a Traffic Ticket.


I received a traffic ticket (no insurance papers produced and not displaying an "N") and the date is incorrect. The year reads 2014. Is it possible to have this dismissed as the offence hasn't even occured yet? At the very least it deprives me of my 30 days to have the ticket reduced and how does that work with my N? Who can say if I will be an N in 3 4 years?

Thank you


If the ICBC Ticket Unit agrees with you that the offence date was invalid, they will cancel the ticket and return the original copy to the officer suggesting that they serve you with a corrected copy. Whether the officer does that or not is up to them. Time will tell. You may be able to find out the status of the ticket by calling the Violation Ticket Unit. (Use search on this site for it)

The easiest way to protect yourself is to dispute the allegation as this will allow you to make that argument if ICBC does not cancel the ticket.

If the N was dealt with by way of 30.13 MVAR, there are no penalty points associated with these counts, so your N should not be affected if you pay or are convicted.

The officer does have the opportunity to serve you with a corrected copy within a year, and if you dispute, may ask the court to amend the ticket to show the correct date. It is up to the court if it will allow the change and in my experience generally it will not, even though the Offence Act allows it.

My boyfriend recently got a speeding ticket in an area where the speed limit changes three times in close succession on the highway. It goes from 90 to 70 to 50. He was in the 50 zone. Could he dispute the claim because he was slowing to the speed in that section, and does it matter if the speed is written on the ticket? are expected to be at or below the speed posted on the sign. You have to do the slowing down before the sign, not after it.

As for the speed measured, it is contained in the officer's notes. The ticket itself only says that the driver was going faster than the law permitted. You can infer a range of speeds from the penalty. At this time, 1 to 20 over is $138, 21 to 40 over is $196, 41 to 60 over is $368 and 60+ over is $483.

Sometimes this is not a good guide as the officer chooses to write the next lower fine instead of the one provided for in law. There is nothing wrong with the officer doing this either, but you may wish to exercise care in your decision to dispute. The Motor Vehicle Act requires specific penalties and if the justice finds the speed to be in the higher bracket they may consider themselves bound by the law to impose the higher penalty.

 You mention the clause "shaded areas of this ticket are not part of the offence charged", and say that if there are errors there it is not grounds to dismiss the ticket.  

One of the shaded boxes is "Produced" (referring to the Drivers License).  If the officer wrote a ticket for failure to produce, but put "Yes" in the box "Produced", wouldn't that be grounds to dismiss?

If the officer put a yes in here, that is certainly something that I would discuss at trial, but it won't automatically mean that the ticket is cancelled or that the court will not convict. You would have to convince that JP that the indication means that you actually did produce, or that that the ticket is so defective that the charge should be dismissed. In my experience, this is not enough in itself for a dismissal, but you never know...

 so the cop left my postal code totally blank, even though it was on my license.. do I have any chance of disputing it on these grounds? thanks a lot for the advice!

In reply to by tempquestion (not verified)

It's in the shaded area of the ticket. If that is the only error, you have no useful avenue of dispute.

I was issued a ticket for not displaying front plate.  I was not asked to sign ticket.  Why?

The only one that could tell you that with any certainty is the issuing officer. I worked with one that wouldn't let anyone have his pen during flu season. He felt that it saved him from getting sick each year.

I wasn't asked for my insurance papers so the "registered name" of vehicle on the ticket is left blank. Is it mandatory for the officer to request insurance papers? I also wasn't asked to sign the ticket either, didn't even realize that was an option. It was just handed to me and that was that. You stated that if a ticket is not signed the officer completes a "certificate of service on the back " I don't see anything on the back of my ticket except info on how to pay or dispute. Since it wasn't signed by me should I be seeing something on the back? If he didn't do a "certificate of service" is the ticket still valid? And it doesn't mention the name of the registered owner of the vehicle... Only the licenense place, colour, make and model.

No, it is not mandatory that an officer request the insurance and registration documents for the vehicle.

The certificate of service only appears on the back of the original copy of the ticket. This is the copy forwarded to ICBC.

The balance of your questions are answered in the traffic tickets section of the forum. Please save my fingers and time by taking a look there and making use of the search facility here on the site. Thanks!

I am planning to dispute a ticket because the officer write down "Honda" and "Prelude" when my vehicle is actually"Acura" and "Integra" is this worth disputing as previous comments and other forums don't allude to this. Thanks.

I've searched "shaded area" for you as I knew it would turn up what you are looking for. I wouldn't expect most people to realize this would be the best way to find it.

The alleged time stated on my violation ticket is wrong.

The box for the time states clearly it is a “24 clock.”

The time on ticket is “06:20” (= 6:20 AM). I was pulled over at 6:20 PM (= 18:20). The officer did not add a PM to the ticket.

Do you think this is enough to meet the incorrect date/time hurdle?

If he got my ticket wrong, he has likely also been filling in other ticket times wrong.

Thoughts? Thanks.

I got a ticket with a wrong location which doesn't exist. Let's say in my city all numbered avenues run north to south, all alphabet streets run east to west. So intersections such as 3rd Ave/ D St. are valid.

On my ticket, the location incorrectly says 2nd Ave/5th Ave. Such intersection doesn't exist.

If the officer doesn't correct this within a year, and after that at court, is this enough fallacy that I can have my ticket dismissed? It's unlikely my hearing will happen within a year. I'm going to dispute within 30 days of service date.

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

My case was dismissed!

I was scheduled for a hearing 8 months after the allegation. I arrived 5 minutes prior, so I didn't go talk to my officer. I think I read somewhere it's important to talk to the officer before the hearing, but I forgot about it.

Our judge, I think his name was Judge McCullum at Vancouver Provincial Court, was very nice. There was this defendant, whose officer was absent, he started with this case. He explained each scenario whether to plead guilty or not. Then the defendant naturally pleaded not guilty. When I had the same situation several years ago, my judge didn't explain this, so I had to request to have my case dismissed, because my officer was absent.

Maybe because there was a case that required an interpreter, but they didn't call in, so it took longer. My turn came, my officer hasn't realized we've talked yet, so we went back to the hallway, asked me what exactly I'll be disputing about, if I brought any evidence. I told him that I'll be questioning about the details in ticket. He asked me what exactly they're, but I declined, I told him that I'd rather ask him in front of the judge.

We went back, then the judge told us we may not have enough time that day to have all hearings, mostly due to the above mentioned events. The officer took me to the hallway again. He said he wanted to reduce or dismiss the ticket, to do that, he needed to know exactly what I was going to ask him during the hearing. He sounded sincere, so I told him that I was going to ask him about the location of the offence, and the discrepancy that I described in my original post half a year ago. He said that the ticket is still valid even with these 'small defects', as long as the city says Vancouver, the ticket is valid. I then asked him to clarify what he meant by 'reducing or dismissing' he mentioned earlier…. He asked if I fixed the reflectors that I was ticketed for, and I told him yes. He said let's go back to the judge.

He told the judge that he requested to dismiss the ticket, because I fixed the reflectors. I thanked the judge and the officer, then on my way…

There was this news on CBC about a week ago that there was a judgement that the defendant lost his case over the technical defects on the ticket, so I was discouraged heading to the courtroom, but I was happy with the outcome.…