City of Toronto Withdraws Parking Tickets Awaiting Trial for More Than a Year

Update: see previous posts – July 30, 2015 Ontario’s Planning On Moving Ticket-Fighting System Online, April 9, 2015 British Columbia Invents New System for Traffic Tickets, September 20, 2104 Vancouver: Revenue is Way Down Using Administrative Penalty System (APS) for Parking Tickets, March 3, 2015 Ontario Exploring Ways to Challenge Tickets Online, Outside of the Courts

Those who decided to fight their parking tickets must be congratulated, as they now benefit from that exercise. The City of Toronto sent a lawyer to court on Friday, with the instructions to withdraw 880,000 parking tickets, that the City had no reasonable prospect of winning, given that too much time had expired without a trial. This is where the Charter kicks in, specifically section 11(b), where the law says that a trial must take place within a reasonable time; in Toronto that is within about 14 months after having received the ticket.
Those who decided to fight their parking tickets must be congratulated, as they now benefit from that exercise. The City of Toronto sent a lawyer to court on Friday, with the instructions to withdraw 880,000 parking tickets, that the City had no reasonable prospect of winning, given that too much time had expired without a trial. This is where the Charter kicks in, specifically section 11(b), where the law says that a trial must take place within a reasonable time; in Toronto that is within about 14 months after having received the ticket. Most of these tickets withdrawn were for expired meter parking offences tickets.

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This website is designed to assist people to fight their tickets. The first step is to challenge the ticket by requesting a trial date. If, after having requesting a trial, you do not receive a confirmation of a court date within 14 months, you have an opportunity to request that your charge(s) be stayed by the courts as a result of a Charter challenge under section 11(b) of the Charter.

The Habitual Offender Program, implemented in 2014, is an initiative to assist with parking fine collection. It is premised on a model whereby towing of vehicles occurs in cases where the owner has three (3) or more outstanding fines, and those fines remain unpaid for at least 120 days following the latest due date. This initiative is projected to generate an additional $2.500 million in Parking Tag Revenue in 2015. In 2010, tow truck operators in Ontario had a 19.7 per cent collision rate, compared to only 1.1 per cent for drivers of other commercial vehicles.
The Habitual Offender Program, implemented in 2014, is an initiative to assist with parking fine collection. It is premised on a model whereby towing of vehicles occurs in cases where the owner has three (3) or more outstanding fines, and those fines remain unpaid for at least 120 days following the latest due date. This initiative is projected to generate an additional $2.500 million in Parking Tag Revenue in 2015.
Is it any wonder why motorists dread bring towed; in 2010, tow truck operators in Ontario had a 19.7 per cent collision rate, compared to only 1.1 per cent for drivers of other commercial vehicles.

On Friday, September 4, 2015 the City of Toronto sent a lawyer to court with instructions to withdraw approximately 880,000 parking tickets for which a trial request had been submitted and where no trial had yet been scheduled. This also included cases where a retrial had been ordered, but where a trial had yet to be scheduled.

The City of Toronto reported that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter“) ensures the right to a trial within a reasonable amount of time, historically 12 to 16 months for parking tickets.  Withdrawing the tickets is an administrative measure that ensures compliance with the Charter and avoids pursuing tickets that have exceeded the time frame and have no reasonable prospect of conviction.

Toronto parking enforcement officer places parking ticket on car. The City issues so many parking tickets that they cannot keep up with the number of motorists who wish to challenge their parking tickets with a trial in court. They are not prepared to bring back night court which many choose to argue their tickets in court. As of July 3, 2008 the option to have a trial at Night Court was discontinued by the City of Toronto.
Toronto parking enforcement officer places parking ticket on car. The City issues so many parking tickets that they cannot keep up with the number of motorists who wish to challenge their parking tickets with a trial in court. They are not prepared to bring back night court which many choose to argue their tickets in court. As of July 3, 2008 the option to have a trial at Night Court was discontinued by the City of Toronto.

Most of the parking tickets issued in Toronto, in 2013 and 2014 were for the following bylaw offences:

Expired Meter Offences – “Park at Expired Meter, Fail to deposit fee/display receipt” with a set fine amount of $30.00:

In 2013 – 571,844 tickets issued or 21.7 % of all parking tickets issued in 2013.
In 2014 – 484,526 tickets issued or 19.4 % of all parking tickets issued in 2014.

In 2014 the following number of parking tickets were issued: 2,498,660
Most of the tickets issued, took place between March and June. The breakdown of the number of tickets issued during those months is as follows: March = 226,111, April = 220,477, May = 225,653 and June = 223,267.

The total number of parking tickets cancelled in 2014 (529,954 tickets) was 48,296
fewer tickets cancelled than the number of tickets cancelled in 2013 (578,250). In addition, the percentage of tickets cancelled in 2014 (21.2%) is also slightly lower than 2013 (22.0%).
The largest decreases are in two areas:
a) tickets cancelled in court by the Judiciary or Courts (Crown/Justice of the Peace);
b) tickets cancelled by Parking Ticket staff under Council – approved Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines.
The City of Toronto prioritizes the scheduling of trials in its courtrooms to accommodate more serious charges first. The 2015 Toronto Recommended Operating Budget provides an additional $2.078 million for an additional two (2) courtrooms dedicated to the judicial processing of parking ticket disputes. The high volume of parking ticket trial requests made between 2002 and 2014 greatly exceeded courtroom capacity and availability of justices of the peace to hear the cases.
The City of Toronto has justified the withdrawal of almost 880,000 parking tickets based on the potential revenue from convictions at court, versus the cost of prosecuting these tickets in the courts. The withdrawn parking tickets represent an estimated $20 million is potential revenue for the City, versus the cost of $23 million cost of hearing the cases in court.
The City of Toronto wants to deny people the opportunity to have their case heard in court. Instead, they want to direct any parking ticket challenge to a hearing officer for an administrative hearing.
The City of Toronto wants to deny people the opportunity to have their case heard in court. Instead, they want to direct any parking ticket challenge to a hearing officer for an administrative hearing, resulting in a final decision.

There is another reason for this unprecented decision.

If a report is presented to City council, indicating a $20 million loss, the natural questions would be why and how can we avoid such a huge loss in the future.

It is expected that later this year or early next year, the Province of Ontario will follow the Province of British Columbia by introducing legislation that will allow Ontario cities, including Toronto, to move parking ticket challenges out of the provincial court system and into an administrative monetary penalty system, where motorists would dispute parking ticket offences online. Since September, 2011 the City of Toronto has allowed motorists to voluntarily dispute their parking tickets online, soon the only way that motorists will be able to dispute their tickets is online, which will be mandatory, with no option to go to court.

The short answer is to introduce a different type of system, where the courts would be taken out of the equation, when motorists want to challenge a parking ticket that they received,  The City is looking at removing parking bylaw disputes out of the court system and moving them into an administrative review process, using an administrative monetary penalty system. It would include a process to appeal an administrative decision to a hearing officer for a final decision.

A report to Council outlining the new opportunities is expected later this year

It would include a process to appeal an administrative decision to a hearing officer for a final decision. A report to Council outlining the new opportunities is expected later this year.

Parking enforcement officer looking for vehicles where the motorist has not Most of the parking tickets issued by the City of Toronto in both 2013 & 2014 were
Parking enforcement officer looking for vehicles to ticket at a City “P” parking location. Most of the parking tickets issued by the City of Toronto in both 2013 & 2014 were for expired meter offences – a $30 fine.

The City and the Province of Ontario have taken steps to reduce the likelihood of recurrence, including providing additional court room space and justices of the peace, updating cancellation guidelines, adopting a fixed fine system, implementing higher rush hour parking fines and establishing a habitual offender towing program.

Unfortunately, not everyone is treated the same by the City.  A single motorist will not be given the same opportunities as large corporations who receive parking tickets regularily on a daily basis.

Companies that rack up large numbers of parking tickets can see some of their fines tossed out through a little-known settlement process called “global resolution.”

The process requires companies with fleet vehicles and a “significant” number of parking tickets to pay all fines incurred on rush hour routes, in fire routes and in disabled parking spaces, according to city spokesperson Wynna Brown.

The remaining tickets, Brown said in an email, are for no stopping, no standing and no parking. City prosecutors and company representatives work to reach agreements that see some of these remaining tickets tossed out and others paid in full.

Drivers and vehicle owners can check if their parking tickets were withdrawn by entering the parking infraction number, the vehicle owner’s driver’s licence number or a Registrant Identification Number (RIN) into the City’s parking ticket lookup tool at toronto.ca/parkingtickets. If a searched ticket was withdrawn, the recipient will see “Cancelled, Withdrawn, Complete” in the status box. This means the ticket does not need to be paid.

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