Be prepared for more officers patrolling the highways this winter

Posted by Jon van Ekelenburg on February 5, 2012

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) plan to increase enforcement on Ontario highways this winter in response to a study of OPP statistics showing that the number of people who have died in accidents on OPP-patrolled highways this January is over double the number a year ago.

As the weather during January has shifted dramatically from day to day, the OPP is reminding drivers that they must be prepared to adjust their driving behaviours to the weather at a moment's notice, and that it is the driver's responsibility to be prepared for changing road conditions.

Click here to read more...

Restrictive Ontario Law For Truck Drivers Being Challenged

Posted by Jon van Ekelenburg on February 3, 2012

Heavy truck drivers in Ontario have undoubtedly run up against the problem of the government-mandated speed limiters on their trucks since 2009, but one driver has challenged the law and declared it a violation of his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Gene Michaud, an Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) member in St. Catharines has testified that he believes the speed restrictions are dangerous to heavy truck drivers, particularly those operating on U.S. highways.

Click here to read more...
2011/01/19, 02:38 pm
Is it worth fighting a speeding ticket received in Ontario?  The answer ultimately depends on each individual circumstance.  There are several questions you need to ask yourself when deciding whether to fight your speeding ticket,
 
1) How will this speeding ticket affect my insurance rates?
 
Apart from the ticket fine you will be incurring as a result of your speeding ticket, it would be worth looking into how your speeding ticket will affect your insurance rates for the next three years (that's how long the conviction stays on your record).  There are several ways to look into how your insurance rates will be affected - i) you can look into your insurance policy (will your insurance company 'forgive' the first speeding ticket you receive?), ii) perform research on the web (Facility Association provides a general idea of how insurance rates may be affected by a speeding ticket conviction), iii) and/or talk to your insurance broker (It is up to you whether you wish to talk to your broker about the pending charge.  Your broker will be able to give you an idea of how your rates will be affected.  Letting your insurance broker know, however, will alert them about your ticket.  Nevertheless, you will need to look into your insurance policy since some insurance companies dictate you need to let them know once you do receive a ticket).  
 
2) Will this speeding ticket result in a licence suspension?
 
You will need to research into the amount of demerit points you will obtain on your record once convicted of this speeding offence.  If you have been convicted of speeding tickets in the past, it may be worth looking into how many demerit points you already currently hold on your record.
 
For fully licensed drivers, the accumulation of 15 demerit points can result in a licence suspension.  For novice drivers (G1,G2,M1,or M2), the accumulation of 9 demerit points can suspend their licence.  Under the recent Novice Driver Escalating Sanctions program, a novice driver who is convicted of speeding 49 kph or more over the limit faces an automatic 30 day licence suspension.
 
If you potentially face a licence suspension as a result of this speeding ticket, you need to ask yourself if a licence suspension will cause you hardship.  For example, do you need to drive to work?  Think about your daily responsibilities and whether being able to drive a vehicle is absolutely necessary.  If so, it may be worth fighting your ticket if a licence suspension is inevitable upon conviction.
 
You may also wish to look into how a licence suspension will affect your insurance rates.  Although demerit points do not affect insurance rates directly, a licence suspension as a result of the accumulation of demerit points can increase your premium.
 
3) Do I drive for a living and will this speeding ticket affect my livelihood?
 
Individuals who drive for a living such as commercial motor vehicle drivers, driving instructors, school bus drivers, and taxi cab drivers need to maintain clean records in order to ensure employment.  If you do drive for a living, it would be worth looking into how this speeding ticket will affect your livelihood.
 
If after assessing all these questions, you decide fighting your speeding ticket would be the best course of action, you will then need to decide whether to fight the ticket yourself or hire a paralegal to do so.  It would be worth looking into what kind of fees you will need to pay a paralegal to fight your speeding ticket and weigh this fee against how much time and effort it would take on your part to fight the ticket yourself.  We offer a 'fight your own speeding ticket' tutorial online you can peruse to give you a general idea of how much time it will take you to fight the speeding charge yourself.  
 
Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  Even if you are admittedly guilty, the prosecutor may be willing to amend your speeding offence to a lesser charge which can save you from acquiring demerit points.  There might not even be enough evidence to convict you of the speeding charge to begin with (ie. police officer's notes are deficient or lacking).  You can determine if this is the case by requesting the police officer's notes.  Before you can meet with the prosecutor or request the evidence for your matter, however, you will need to first exercise your option to fight your speeding ticket.
 
In the end, it is imperative that you weigh all of your options before simply deciding to pay your speeding ticket.  Too often, people do not realize the consequences until it is too late.   
 
  
2011/01/16, 12:23 pm
Do errors on a traffic ticket result in a dismissal of the charge? It ultimately depends on the error, and the steps taken by the person charged to have the ticket quashed.  Commonly, the errors noticed by people who contact our firm involve the incorrect spelling of their name, incorrect location of the offence, incorrect address, or incorrect licence plate number.  These errors are not considered fatal errors.  At trial, the prosecutor can ask to amend the information to reflect the correct one if brought up by the defendant in court.
 
On the contrary, an incorrect set fine on a traffic ticket is considered a fatal error.  In London (City) v. Young, 2008 the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that if the set fine or the total payable amount on the traffic ticket is incorrect, then the ticket should be quashed. A person charged can determine whether the set fine indicated on his/her ticket is valid by visiting this page, http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/ocj/en/setfines/one/index.htm.  Keep in mind that the total payable amount of the ticket is the set fine + a $5 court cost + the associated victim surcharge fee.  
 
An incorrect fine, however, does not necessarily result in the automatic dismissal of the charge.  Simply put, having a ticket quashed based on a fatal error like an incorrect fine is not as clear-cut as it may seem.  The prosecutor can still ask to amend the fine to the correct fine if the error is brought up by the defendant in court.  If the prosecutor decides to take this route, the defendant would then need to argue how amending the set fine to reflect the correct one results in an injustice to him/her and prejudices his/her chances of preparing a defence.  If the defendant can successfully argue that his/her chances of preparing a defence would be affected by this amendment, the Justice may choose to remedy this situation with an adjournment (in effect giving the defendant enough time to prepare an alternate defence) instead of quashing the ticket.  Thus, even then, the ticket would not necessarily be eliminated.
 
If the defendant requests a trial date and then chooses not to attend court, the Justice of the Peace may notice the error and quash the certificate.  According to the Provincial Offences Act section 9.1(2), the Justice of the Peace has to ensure the ticket is proper on its face (no fatal errors) before registering a conviction when the defendant is not present for court.  There is always a chance, however, that the Justice does not notice that the set or total payable fine is incorrect and convict the defendant in his/her absence.  Certainly, the defendant would have the option of an appeal.  Whether or not an appeal would be worth the time and effort, however, is up to the defendant.
 
To sum it up, errors on a traffic ticket simply do not result in an automatic dismissal of the traffic offence.  It would be prudent not to count on simply walking into court (or requesting a trial date and not attending) and having the ticket quashed automatically without any work on your part.  There are different steps a defendant can follow in order to have his/her ticket quashed.  The different procedures the defendant can take to have his/her ticket quashed based on a fatal error, as well as the laws and regulations related to fatal errors on a ticket, will be added to our 'fight your own ticket' tutorial in the near future so feel free to check back regularly.
2011/01/11, 10:10 am
It is now becoming common knowledge that demerit points acquired from traffic ticket convictions in Ontario do not affect insurance rates.  Whether one acquires a 3 point or 0 point offence does not make a difference in terms of how insurance rates will be affected.  Insurance companies increase rates based on the conviction, and not the demerit points. Simply stating that demerit points do not play a role in the increase of insurance premiums, however, is not reflective of the entire picture.
 
In fact, there is an indirect link between demerit points and insurance rates. Though demerit points do not play a direct role in increasing insurance premiums, the accumulation of demerit points in Ontario can result in a licence suspension, and licence suspensions can increase insurance rates.  A trusted broker to our firm explains that the increase in premium ultimately depends on the insurance company, the type of suspension that occurred, and the length of the suspension.  
 
How many demerit points does it take to suspend a licence?  That ultimately depends.  Particularly, novice drivers (Class G1, G2, M1 or M2) can receive a licence suspension for up to 60 days for the accumulation of 9 demerit points on their record.  Six demerit points results in an interview where the driver's licence can also be suspended provided the driver is not able to convince the MTO interviewer why he/she should keep his/her licence.  Novice Drivers can receive another suspension for up to 6 months if 9 points are once again accumulated on their record after being suspended the first time.  
 
Meanwhile, a fully licenced driver can receive a licence suspension if 15 points are accumulated on his/her record.  The driver's licence can also be suspended for up to six months if 15 points are reached again after receiving a suspension previously.
 
Licence suspensions can also be issued automatically as a result of a traffic ticket conviction bearing more than 4 demerit points.  Under the recent Novice Driver Escalating Sanctions program, an offence carrying 4 or more demerit points results in an automatic licence suspension for a novice driver (Class G1, G2, M1 or M2) convicted of the offence.  Particularly, a 30 day licence suspension is issued for the first occurrence, 90 days for the second, and the licence cancelled for a third occurrence.  Needless to say, in this particular case, given that insurance premiums can increase as a result of licence suspensions, the consequence associated with accumulating a 4-point offence versus a 0 point offence would presumably differ.
 
Demerit points stay on a driver's record for two years from the date of offence.  In some cases, depending on how many points you already have on your record, it may be worth fighting a ticket recently received especially if demerit points are set to come off your record soon.  The trial date for your new ticket will be scheduled sometime in the future (hopefully a date when the demerit points drop off your record).  Thus, if you are reaching the maximum amount of demerit points, it may be worth fighting a recent ticket received to avoid obtaining a licence suspension.  Aside from the possibility of the trial date being scheduled when demerit points come off your record, there is also the possibility of reducing demerit points when fighting your ticket.
 
In all of these cases, demerit points play a significant role in whether a driver's licence is suspended and in effect the insurance rate increase which may result.  Demerit points do not affect insurance rates directly although the role they play in determining whether licence suspensions are issued indicates that demerit points are not completely without consequence when it comes to insurance rates.
 
To view the demerit point chart, visit the following page.  
 
To read about the demerit point system and licence suspensions, visit the ff MTO page.
2009/09/19, 09:37 am


September 19, 2009 - The recent decision by Napanee Judge G.J. Griffin ruling stunt driving as unconstitutional has people buzzing.  Opposing camps have offered justifications for the ruling ("absolute liability offences should not carry custodial sentences") and justifications for the charge itself  ("stricter laws = safer roads").  

A driver charged with stunt driving in Ontario under Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act faces the risk of a maximum fine of $10,000, imprisonment, and a licence suspension upon conviction. 

Does this ruling mean all current stunt driving charges before the courts will be withdrawn? What, if any, are the implications of this ruling for people charged with stunt driving in Ontario?

First off, the Napanee ruling only pertains to the definition of speeding.  A driver can be charged with stunt driving based on the other definitions outlined in regulation 455/07. Stunt driving consists of various definitions such as, 

1) driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to lift some or all of its tires from the surface of the highway, 
2) driving a motor vehicle that indicates an intention to cause some or all of its tires to lose traction,
3) driving a motor vehicle that indicates an intention to prevent another vehicle from passing

...and the list goes on...  

In a nutshell, a driver charged with stunt driving as a result of other reasons apart from speeding should not expect any significant changes from the recent ruling.

Drivers charged with stunt driving as a result of speeding stand a better chance.  The recent ruling, however, does not result in the immediate withdrawal of all stunt driving charges relating to excessive speed.  A charter application still has to be filed and argued for each individual matter.  

As to be expected, Ontario is appealing the recent ruling.  Thus, it is likely stunt driving charges currently before the court whereby Charter Applications have been filed and argued may be put on hold until the judgement for this upcoming appeal has been heard. Certainly, any delays attributable to the court system or prosecution entitles the defendant to yet another Charter Application which argues a defendant's right to be tried within a reasonable amount of time...thereby increasing a defendant's chances once again.  

Amidst all of the debate and discussion surrounding the recent ruling, a major aspect surrounding the stunt driving law remains to be discussed.  Despite a defendant's right to the presumption of innocence, a driver charged with the offence loses his/her vehicle at the roadside for seven days and has to incur the towing and impoundment costs.  Is not a roadside licence suspension sufficient enough to prevent the defendant from driving? Certainly, the police officer will not allow the defendant to drive away from the scene and more often than not, a defendant has access to other vehicles during his/her suspension. Ultimately, is towing a defendant's vehicle really necessary to protect the public or is it just a form of punishment administered before the defendant's guilt is decided by a fair and impartial tribunal?  

Discussion surrounding the constitutionality of the search and seizure related to the stunt driving charge is long overdue.  Would this discussion merely be a futile exercise given the cited 'politics' often associated with legal matters and rulings?  Perhaps.  

For any legal matter, there are always at least two sides to an argument.  It is our duty as citizens to ensure both sides are heard equally and fairly.  Most societal change and growth would not have been accomplished if it were not for the individuals who questioned and challenged laws now deemed as prejudicial or unjust.

The battle surrounding the constitutionality of the stunt driving charge is far from over.  In the end it is important to remember as Earl Warren once stated, "It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive."  Discourse surrounding Ontario's controversial charge continues and rightly so.
 

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2009/09/04, 09:44 pm

 Niagara Long Weekend Blitz & Niagara Attractions Discounts for Clients & Members

September 4, 2009 - After a long hiatus, we are back to updating our blog!  There really is no good excuse for our long absence.  In the past while, we have had to undergo some restructuring which regretfully resulted in us neglecting our blog.  We are back, however, and aim to offer weekly updates for those of you interested in traffic ticket related news.  Our head office is located in the Niagara region so forgive us if a huge percentage of our blogs involve news surrounding this area. Rest assured, however, that we aim to offer traffic ticket updates for all of the major cities within the province of Ontario. For more frequent updates, please join our facebook page Road Warriors Traffic Ticket Services and/or tweet us at road_warriors.

NIAGARA LONG WEEKEND BLITZ

September 4, 2009 - For those of you travelling within the Niagara Region this labour day weekend, keep your eyes out for the OPP who will be out in full force.  According to Staff Sgt. Jan Idzenga, the OPP intend to focus their attention on the area most known for accidents - the stretch between Seventh Avenue in St. Catharines and Mountain Road in Niagara Falls. 

If you are a motorcyle rider, you will be especially at risk of police scrutiny this long weekend.  Staff Sgt. Idzenga from the OPP states serious accidents have occurred recently involving motorcyles.  

For more info regarding the OPP blitz in the Niagara area, please visit url.

If you are a local Niagara resident, you are already likely aware that the Niagara Regional Police tend to focus their efforts on the route most frequented by locals to avoid the long weekend highway traffic - Thorold Stone Rd.  The NRP's most known hiding spot in this area is right where the tunnel ends and begins.

Drive safely and we wish you all a great labour day weekend!

NIAGARA ATTRACTIONS DISCOUNTS

September 4, 2009 - Safari Niagara, Niagara Helicopters, and Oh Canada Eh Productions are offering our clients and members discounted rates.  In appreciation of our clients and members, we approached these Niagara attractions to see if they could offer special rates for our clients and members.  We are glad to announce that they all happily obliged!  If you are looking for something to do this long weekend in the Niagara area at discounted rates, join our facebook page for more info! 

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