Ignorance is NOT a Defence

What if I wasn’t aware that what I did was wrong?

Section 11 (d) of the Charter states:

Any person charged with an offence has the right:

  • (d)  to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a
    fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal

Section 6 (1) (a) of the Canadian Criminal Code states:

Presumption of Innocence:

” a person shall be deemed not to be guilty of the offence until he is convicted or discharged under section 730 of the offence…”

This means that when anyone is charged, whether it be the Criminal Code or the Highway Traffic Act / Provincial Offences Act he/she is presumed innocent until the state proves otherwise.

Once you receive a ticket and proceed to court to fight your ticket, the Courts refer to you as a defendant.  In Ontario, the legislation that allows you to fight your ticket in Court is the Provincial Offences Act.

The Provincial Offences Act states under Section 81:

81. Ignorance of the law – Ignorance of the law by a person who commits an offence is not an excuse for committing the offence.

To suggest you didn’t know or you weren’t aware of the rules of the road, or you were just “ignorant” of the law, in any area or city of Canada, is not a “defence” that will be accepted by the Courts.

Driving a privilege

31. The purpose of this Part is to protect the public by ensuring that,

(a) the privilege of driving on a highway is granted to, and retained by, only those persons who demonstrate that they are likely to drive safely; and

(b) full driving privileges are granted to novice and probationary drivers only after they acquire experience and develop or improve safe driving skills in controlled conditions.

Someone once asked a class “What do you think is the biggest danger in our society, ignorance or apathy”?  The class asked him what he thought and he replied “I don’t know and I don’t care”!

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