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Holding Your Own: Tips for Traffic Court Etiquette

Calgary traffic ticket court gavel and traffic light.

Are you about to make an appearance in Calgary’s traffic court system? Perhaps you have been summoned as a witness, or more likely you have received a traffic ticket and decided to try fighting it on your own. While we obviously do not advise this course of action, it is something that we at Traffic Ticket Agent see on an almost daily basis when we visit the courts for our clients.

We also get to hear many of the traffic ticket defenses that people present for themselves. And while some are strong arguments that turn out successful, many are not. Add to that the fact that some who choose to defend their own traffic tickets do not entirely understand how the traffic court system works and it can make for a pretty unpleasant experience for everyone involved.

Here are some things to keep in mind when interacting with and presenting your argument to the courts:

First and foremost, it is important to remember that you are but one among dozens of people the courts are seeing today, and one among hundreds (if not thousands, depending on where you live) that the courts will be seeing this month. Chances are that whatever your defense, the Crown has heard it before.

Be sure to carefully consider your argument. A good example of this is someone who got caught by photo radar speeding in a residential area. This person’s argument was that their speedometer was malfunctioning so it was not actually their fault.

The court’s response was unsympathetic. After a quick series of questions it was determined that the defendant knew the speedometer was faulty and chose to drive anyway. However, it is illegal to knowingly operate a vehicle with a malfunctioning speedometer. The Crown determined the defendant was, in fact, guilty and this person was ordered to pay the fine in full (and get their speedometer fixed immediately).

Be respectful. It still amazes us how many people show up to traffic court and are flippant, rude, or even downright aggressive. It is helpful to remember this golden rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. This includes agents of the Crown.

Truth is, the court and its representatives are not there to make your life more difficult – they are there to do their job. In this case, their job includes interacting with you. If you treat the traffic court’s agents with respect and consideration while dealing with your traffic ticket defense, they will do the same for you.

Support your argument with concrete evidence. Another good example is a person who was ticketed for running a red light on a cold, snowy night. This person’s argument was that the road conditions were so slippery that the vehicle was unable to stop for the light without sliding out of control. In order to support this argument the defendant brought in weather reports from Environment Canada showing the hourly snowfall for the evening in question, as well as news reports of all the traffic accidents that ensued. The court accepted this argument and the defendant was found not guilty.

It is always a good idea to enlist the skills and knowledge of a legal professional (such as Traffic Ticket Agent) when dealing with the courts, traffic or otherwise. However, if you do choose to defend yourself then these basic tips will help you to present your case in a manner that might (hopefully) help you get more positive results.

If you would like more information, please go to our Calgary traffic ticket defense home page.

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