Q&A - Does a Good Driving Record Count in Traffic Court?

Q&A ImageLast week I received my first ticket in 41 years of driving. I had recently started driving taxi part time in Nanaimo. At the end of a 9 hr shift I dropped the taxi off and got into my own car. Five minutes later I went through a school zone without slowing down, having missed the school zone sign.

This was ironic because I had been slowing down for school zones all day but became complacent after finishing work.

A police officer stepped out from behind a tree, directed me to stop and issued me a speeding ticket.

My driving record has always been a source of pride to me in that I’d never had any kind of violation in my life. I’m now wondering if I went to court and asked for leniency, would a judge take my good driving record into account and either dismiss the case or reduce the fine or not put points on my license? Is this even possible?

If there’s no chance I guess I’ll just pay the fine suffer the points on my license and be done with it. I’m not sure what to do since, obviously, I’m new at this.

Comments

Advice - yes - read this site.

Great driving record has heavy bearing on the courts decision! (Same as a poor one)

The first step once you file a dispute is to find out what evidence the officer has on you - request disclosure - its a mandatory part of the legal process (search for procedure on this site).

At the time of the trial (about 10-18 months from your notice of dispute, depending on the courthouse) you will have a chance to speak to the officer - if you are "content" to pay the fine but want to escape the points - you can offer to plea guilty as the owner (not driver) - if the officer agrees they will help you to fill out a form and if the JJP approves during the hearing - that will be it.

You can also ask for reduced fines - depends on what you've been allegedly caught doing - if its a minimal statutory fine - its already the lowest.
You can ask for time to pay - 6 months is a very typical request.

If you were to go to trial under not guilty plea - remember to attack the evidence against you, with-out contributing any new evidence (testifying yourself). The time to "attack" the evidence is right after the officer testifies against you - its best to take notes and be thorough. If the officer/you are unclear on certain parts of the testimony - that's your chance to ask good questions. If there is no direct evidence against you like radar/lidar and the allegation hinges on officer claiming visual estimation - you can also ask questions not related directly to the offense - but relating to officer's memory for that day. Asking what the officer had for lunch that day (especially if lunch break happened before your ticket was issued) is not as crazy as it sounds - because it speaks to the officers memory.

Answer

We all make mistakes, it's just that some of us don't get caught too often. Having said that, I'm going to start watching my rearview mirror... :-)

Congratulations on your driving record, it's an enviable one. Outrageous has again provided the answer for you. There are two options, plead not guilty and hope to have it dismissed or convince the officer to change it to a registered owner violation and pay it. You could even do this ahead of time by making the offer to the officer directly, but I wouldn't anticipate too much success.

The court is there to either find that the offence took place or didn't take place. If it did, there is some leeway in setting penalty but that does not include points or fines where there is a legislated minimum.

There is a lot of information here on disputing tickets, please feel free to search around.

Thanks to both Outrageous

Thanks to both Outrageous DriveSmartBC for your kind words and advice.
 
I've been going over some of the other posts about fighting tickets. I don’t think I have a chance of fighting the charge on lack of or incomplete evidence. I’m sure there is a radar reading and surely the officer had gone through the proper calibrating procedure. It would just make me look stupid.
 
The idea of pleading to a registered owner infraction instead of a driver infraction to avoid points on my licence looks like an reasonable compromise if I could get the officer to agree. But the idea of waiting 10-18 months to settle this makes me want to just pay the fine and get it over with. One thing that stops me from doing that right now is the effect on my ICBC insurance. I would hope that with one ticket in 41 years it would have little or no effect. But we are talking about ICBC.

We are talking about ICBC....

Actually the way ICBC handles the drivers in BC that have violations on their records, is very clear cut.  It always surprises me how many BC motorists aren't aware of how the system works.

For someone with a 41 year violation free record, I guess that's understandable.

Even a number of violations won't affect your insurance.  But a number of violations does cost money (over and above the actual fine).  Depending on the type of violation and the number, a driver would be penalized by the "Penalty Poiint Premium" system and or the "Driver Risk Premium" system.

One speeding ticket won't cost you a "Penalty Point Premium", however.

Your reasoning for fighting the ticket, seems a bit strange,,,, "pride".  From your own words, you missed a school zone sign and as a result "went thruogh (the) school zone without slowing down".  From your own words it appears you agree with the police officer that you were speeding in a school zone.

Your 41 years of "undetected" violations (nobody, and I mean nobody, has driven for 41 years and never broken a traffic law) has come to an end.

So if you beat the ticket on a technicality, does that make a difference ?  Instead of being proud to say, "I've never received a ticket", you'll be proud to say "I've never been convicted of a traffic violation" ?

Nobody likes to get a ticket, but even good drivers slip up once in a while and some times when they do, a police officer happens to see it happen.  Use the event as a reminder that you're only as good a driver as your next km.  If there hadn't been a cop there but there was a kid running out onto the street and you hit them, what would your "perfect record" be good for ?

Good points. Yes I can't say

Good points. Yes I can't say I've never deserved a ticket in my 41 years of driving but on the other hand, drivers who get lots of tickets also get away with a lot. As a professional driver I see this every day. I never intended to try and beat my ticket on a technicality because I admit I was speeding. I was hoping a judge might feel sorry for me and let me off with a warning. After all, if everybody had my driving record, traffic cops would be out of a job and car insurance would be $50 a year.

But as you pointed out, I wouldn't be able to keep saying I've never gotten a ticket. I would have to say I got one but beat it in court. In other words my "perfect" driving record would have an asterisk beside it.

Anyway, last week I went and paid the ticket to get it over with. From the information on this site it looks like it would take over a year to go to court and I didn't want to have this thing stretch out that long. As you also pointed out we're only as good as our last kilometer driven so I'll take this as a wakeup call and try not to get another.

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