When disputing violation tickets in British Columbia, there is a thirty (30) day limitation period in which you can file a dispute. If you fail to dispute your ticket within the thirty (30) day period, you are presumed guilty and the offence(s) will now be on your driving record. Similarly, if you dispute your violation ticket but fail to attend a hearing prior to the ticket being finalized, you will be deemed to not have disputed the allegations in the ticket and will be found guilty by non-attendance.
There are several avenues when dealing with each situation, and you may be able to have your ‘day in court’ to dispute the allegations in front of a Judicial Justice of the Peace.
If you realize you have not disputed your violation ticket within the thirty (30) day period you are presumed guilty of the allegations on the ticket. Your first step should be to call a lawyer experienced with the Motor Vehicle Act to discuss how to move forward.
Please note that in this post, we are discussing violation tickets related to the Motor Vehicle Act, which are commonly known as traffic tickets.
Failing to Dispute your Violation Ticket on time:
So, you failed to dispute your violation ticket within the thirty (30) day time limit?
You will need to file a late dispute affidavit using the Affidavit 16(2) of the Offence Act form. The form is available on the Government of British Columbia Website or at any British Columbia Traffic Court Registry.
An affidavit is a sworn document that is considered evidence which contains facts to be used to prove your argument. An affidavit will be treated by the trier of fact the same way a Judge would treat a statement made in court. The affidavit must outline who you are, the allegations and ticket information, and provide enough information to meet each factor that will be considered when your late dispute affidavit is being reviewed. Affidavits are required to be commissioned/notarized. This can be done by the court house, a notary, or a practicing lawyer in the Province of British Columbia.
The Offence Act outlines these factors under Section 16 as follows:
(a) through no fault of the defendant, he or she did not have an opportunity to dispute the allegation or the amount of the fine,
(b) the defendant had a genuine intention to dispute the ticket before the dispute period under subsection (1) expired,
(c) no undue prejudice will result from the extension of the dispute period,
(d) the defendant has an arguable defence to the violation ticket, and
(e) it is in the interests of justice to allow the dispute to proceed.
You must then prove that, through no fault of your own, you failed to dispute the violation ticket within thirty (30) days and were genuinely going to do so. Simply forgetting or not having time because you did not make time will not be enough in this situation. Personal issues such as health, family, or work may be applicable depending on the severity or duration.
You will be required to show that there is no undue prejudice (we could call this ‘harm’) to the Crown’s case (for example they can still produce the officers who wrote the ticket), that you have an arguable defence to the allegations in the ticket, and that it is in the interests of justice to allow the dispute to proceed. Speaking with a lawyer is crucial at this stage to ensure you are aware of what the contents of the affidavit should be. You must ensure you can satisfy these criteria with only required factual information. Never put false information in an affidavit.
Any evidence you can provide that corresponds with your affidavit will go a long way and it is recommended that you provide the appropriate evidence you have as an exhibit to the affidavit. Keep in mind that the results will be up to a Judicial Justice of the Peace and no defence is guaranteed to work.
Failing to appear/have an agent appear at your hearing:
Once you have disputed your violation ticket, a hearing will be set. There may be subsequent hearings (for a variety of reasons) but one thing is certain – if you fail to appear at a hearing, the process will stop. At this point you will be deemed to have not disputed the allegations on the violation ticket and found guilty of the offence(s) outlined on the ticket.
There are two (2) affidavit forms that apply if you have missed a hearing, both of which are available on the Government of British Columbia Website or at any British Columbia Traffic Court Registry. The first form is Affidavit 15(10) of the Offence Act, to be used if less than thirty (30) days have elapsed since the missed hearing. The second form is Affidavit 16(2) of the Offence Act if more than thirty (30) days have elapsed since the missed hearing.
Filing an affidavit before thirty (30) days have elapsed has fewer requirements than having to file the affidavit after thirty (30) days have elapsed.
If you are filing an affidavit before thirty (30) days have elapsed since the missed hearing date, you will need to swear or affirm that you had a genuine intention to appear at the hearing and not more than thirty (30) days have passed since the hearing date. You will also need to explain why you failed to appear at the hearing. Any evidence you can provide to substantiate the facts in the affidavit should be attached as an exhibit to the affidavit.
If you are filing an affidavit after thirty (30) days have elapsed, the criteria you are required to satisfy are the same as if you had failed to dispute the ticket in the first place, which was discussed earlier.
Other things to be aware of:
Paying your violation ticket within thirty days establishes you as guilty and you will not be able to file a late dispute affidavit.
Failing to dispute a ticket can have repercussions beyond offences being added to your driving record. There may be applicable monetary premiums or a driving prohibition in the near future.
This article is intended to be informative and does not replace the need for, nor constitute, legal advice. No lawyer-client, advisory, or fiduciary or other relationship is created by viewing this article.
If you have questions about a late dispute affidavit, require assistance with a late dispute affidavit, or questions about another legal matter, contact Zachary Dallman for a complimentary consultation. You can book a consult through www.macsuhlaw.ca using our booking system or contact Zachary at [email protected] or 778.653.6163.
Photo by Alexsandr Popov.