Q&A - Disputing Violation Ticket for My Suicidal Father

Q&A ImageMy 83-year old father got a violation ticket and I am considering whether I should (or can) dispute it on his behalf. It is a somewhat unique case.  My father had shown signs of  mental illness and last month I just managed to get a geriatric specialist to send in a medical report that requires him to take a driving assessment.  However, shortly after seeing the specialist, my father became suicidal and left home driving his car without taking his wallet.

He was hysterical and certainly looked not well. He was stopped by a Vancouver police officer in downtown Vancouver because he was driving on the wrong side of the road. When the officer asked where he was going, he said he was on his way to kill himself.  But all the officer did was write him a violation ticket for failing to keep right (section 150(1)) and failing to produce driver's license (section 33(1)).  

My father was able to show the officer an expired interim driver's license that was kept in the glove compartment so the personal information on the ticket was properly filled out. After writing the ticket, the officer just let my dad continue on his way!

My dad told me the details after his suicide attempt failed and he was hospitalized. I believe his story because it matches with the timeline of when he left home, the information written on the traffic ticket that the hospital gave me, and how he had frankly told two RCMP officers about his suicide plan when he was stopped in Squamish later that afternoon. The RCMP officers sent him to hospital and impounded his vehicle.

I want to dispute the ticket not because I have any issue with the charges, but rather because of his mental state and his ability to pay the fine.  He is on income assistance and also have problem with his finances because of his cognitive issues. I am also appalled that the Vancouver police officer just let a distressed senior with no ID continue driving after having caught him driving on the wrong side of the road! 

My questions are:

1. Should the Vancouver police officer have given him the ticket in the first place? Should he have done what the Squamish RCMP did instead? 

2. Can I "dispute" the ticket and ask for a reduction of fines based on compassionate ground?

3. Can I do this on my dad's behalf now that he is certified and may not be discharged any time soon (or even never)?

4. Even if I do not dispute the ticket, can I file a complaint about the action of the Vancouver police officer?  It is a miracle that no innocent person has been hurt and that my dad's suicide attempt failed, this could easily have been a deadly incident.



Sorry to hear about all your father's troubles.

Is there any chance that you have a power of attorney for your father? This legal stature would give you some status in the court on his behalf. Without it, somehow the court has to be convinced that you are acting on his behalf with his authorization.

A quick look at provincial provisions on the BC Government web site finds this advice:

Adult Guardianship/Committeeship

A committee (guardian for an adult) makes decisions for another adult who is not mentally capable of making decisions about his or her own health care and personal affairs, and/or financial and legal affairs. If you become mentally incapable and have not already named someone to make decisions for you, the B.C. Supreme Court may appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf.

The Public Guardian and Trustee of B.C. may also be appointed as committee to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf, or may appoint another person to act as temporary substitute decision-maker for you.

The Canadian Bar Association has this advice on committeeship where the person involved has become incompetent without having made a plan for this eventuality.

Probably the least expensive way to get good advice on where to start is by using Lawyer Referral.

If the 30 day dispute window is closing quickly,  you may also wish to try contacting the Violation Ticket Center for advice.

It's really difficult for me to tell you what the police should / should not have done in the circumstances. I found out about a suicide in progress that I stopped after the fact. I had no clue at the time that the driver was contemplating this and just appeared to be telling me her troubles at the side of the road after I stopped her for speeding. I learned later that I stopped her in the process of driving off the road to kill herself. Had I not listened and sympathized with her situation, who knows what might have happened after she drove away.

This still scares me when I think about it.

If you feel that the officer must have known and failed to follow through on his duty, yes, you can make a complaint. If you are not certain of this, I would make an appointment and have a talk with the officer or the officer's supervisor. It is possible that the officer could be convinced to withdraw the ticket and might learn something that would be useful in the future.

Circumstances and experience may have played a big part in how this turned out. As in any situation in life, we are not always prepared to deal with things properly for many different reasons. Training cannot teach it all from the beginning and people perceive things individually. What may have been apparent in Squamish may not have been apparent in Vancouver.

I won't make excuses either, sometimes we make mistakes and others pay for that.

How these mistakes are dealt with can make a big difference in how the parties feel and how that experience can be a benefit or a drawback in the future depends on all involved.

If there is more that you think I can do, please ask. As you learn more about this, please consider coming back and adding to this thread so that others may benefit.

Thank you for your very

Thank you for your very helpful response. I connected with the officer who wrote the traffic ticket and he gave me more detail about his observations. I felt better after the conversation. It is true that while it seems obvious to me that my father was suicidal (I have witnessed him falling deeper and deeper into depression over the years), it is not apparent to someone who has only had a brief encounter with him. The officer thought that he didn't speak English and it didn't cross his mind that my father had trouble communicating because of the state of his mind. A brain scan in the hospital also showed that he had a mini stroke that affected the functioning of his brain so he was not able to reason and had some problem with speech.

The officer said it is too late for him to withdraw the ticket unless I dispute it. I went to one ICBC driver licensing office and they said I had to download the form at home and mail it in myself, so I went to a different one and they did it on the computer there. I received the notice of dispute within a couple of days, I am still waiting for a notice of the court date. The officer said once I receive that information, I can give him a call and he will withdraw the ticket then.

I wish I had been better prepared and have a power of attorney in place once I noticed he was deteriorating mentally. Now I am struggling with dealing with managing my father's finances and other matters daily.

30 Days

The officer is only allowed to withdraw a violation ticket if the request is made within 30 days of issue. It is done by filling out a single page form, attaching a copy of the ticket and mailing it to ICBC.

This also coincides with the 30 days that the driver has to decide what to do with the ticket.

After the 29th day the only way for the officer to withdraw it is to call no evidence when the dispute is heard in traffic court.

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