In Alberta, traffic tickets and traffic offences are considered violations of Provincial Legislation (offences under the Traffic Safety Act) and usually do not result in criminal charges being pursued. However it is important that you address any traffic tickets before they become outstanding, or you could be sentenced to jail time.
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It’s Only a Traffic Ticket, Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
Although you don’t necessarily need to hire a lawyer for minor motor vehicle offences, serious traffic offences- such as DUI/ DWI and Impaired Driving Causing Death or Bodily Harm carry significant legal consequences and you should consider retaining a lawyer anytime you are charged with an indictable offence.
In some regions, a lawyer can arrange a pre-trial meeting with a Prosecutor to discuss the possibility of resolving your matter; in an ideal scenario a lawyer can resolve your matter in a favourable manner for you and avoid requiring you to take time off work to attend court. In a worst case scenario, an experienced lawyer will be able to identify any outstanding issues, what witnesses will be needed, and the estimated amount of effort a successful trial outcome may require.
What is a Red/ Pink Traffic Ticket?
Red/ Pink tickets are known as summons violations and, are generally are issued for more serious violations that may have resulted in personal and/ or property damage. Your attendance in court is usually required by law. These Violations typically include:
- careless driving
- hit and run
- failing to stop at a red light
- driving on the wrong side of the road
- driving without insurance
If the officer has marked the “Court Appearance Required” box, you must appear in court (in person or by agent) on or before the date listed on the ticket. However, if the police officer has selected the “Voluntary Payment Option” section with a dollar amount, you have the option of paying the listed amount in full or appearing in court (in person or by agent) on or before the date specified on the ticket. Note that by paying the voluntary payment amount, you have “pled guilty” to the offence.
What is a Yellow Traffic Ticket?
A Yellow or White is generally less serious and may or may not have a court (traffic) summons attached. Be sure to read both sides of your ticket: the backside will provide detailed information on your payment options. For White or Yellow Tickets, you must attend court if you wish to dispute the ticket. If you fail to appear on the specified date or pay the fine before the date, you will be convicted in absence on our court date.
If you are convicted, you will be mailed a notice of conviction & will have to pay the penalty listed on the ticket (the Voluntary Payment Option), and any late payment charges. Your local Vehicle Registry may not provide you with services until your fines are fully paid, this can include license renewal.
What Should I do if I’m involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident in Alberta?
Immediately take detailed notes about what happened: the contact information of all witnesses present, (including names, addresses, E-mail, phone numbers) the location of traffic signs and signals, road conditions and weather, and the orientation of other cars.
Where and When are Traffic Court Trials Held?
In Calgary and Edmonton, you attend the “Justice of the Peace” counter to register your plea. When you plead not guilty, you will be advised of the trial date and the number of the courtroom where the trial will be heard. In other locations, you may be required to go to a specified courtroom, in those instances your violation ticket will contain the address for the courthouse.
Why Should I Defend Against a Traffic Ticket?
- There could be errors on the traffic ticket (such as your name and or address)
- The Police Officer did not sign the ticket
- You genuinely believe that you are not guilty for the offence you were charged with
- The Crown Prosecutor cannot prove all the elements of the offence against you (i.e. the Police did not record any particulars of your offence on the ticket.)
- The demerit points against your licence may result in an indeterminate suspension.
- Your insurance rates may increase steeply
Will a Traffic Ticket Affect my Citizenship Status/ Application if I am not a Canadian Citizen?
No. As long as your Traffic Ticket falls under the Highway Traffic Act and not the Criminal Code, your immigration status will not be affected.
Will a Traffic Ticket Affect my Ability to Obtain a Pardon/ Record Suspension?
Possibly. When reviewing your eligibility for a Pardon, the National Parole Board may consider all interactions you have had with law enforcement. Moreover an excessive number of traffic violations may be viewed unfavorably by the National Parole Board when considering your Pardon/ Record Suspension Application.