Montreal Courthouse Overrun with Speeders et al Challenging Traffic Tickets


In Montreal the traffic courtrooms are packed with motorists who are fighting their tickets. The courts have found that since the laws are being rigorously enforced and the fines and penalties for convictions cost too much for the average motorist, twice as many recipients of traffic tickets are challenging the tickets in court.

The City attempts to manage all of this, despite having made a decision to eliminate positions in the Montreal Police department. The Montreal Police’ collective agreement expires this month.

It seems that most cities in North America (Montreal and Toronto are not alone) have a policy wherein they pay their police force to first issue traffic tickets and then pay them at overtime rates to show up to court to provide corroborating evidence.

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MONTREAL — Room 5.06 at the Montreal court house is where you’ll find average people, many for the first time in the justice system.

They are people determined to fight traffic tickets.

Take Robert Delaney, he got hit with a $1200 speeding ticket.

“The policeman didn’t have the radar, he only took it by eyesight,” Delaney lamented to CTV Montreal’s Stephane Giroux on Friday. “Unless he’s an expert in car racing…”

When someone contests a ticket the police officer has to come to testify, and they’re paid overtime when they come to court.

Most people choose to defend themselves, and that’s usually a good way to lose, says lawyer Nicolas Rousseau.

“It’s never easy because they have a lot of rules, a lot of laws and (a lot of) procedures in the law,” Rousseau said. “It’s very tough.”

The most common mistake people make is to fight a ticket simply out of sheer frustration.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” said Joey Baransky. We’re hard working people, we go to work every day, we get stuck in traffic, and there’s 10 cop cars waiting for people without seat belts.”

While stories like Baransky’s are compelling, they are not very likely to impress a judge.

But even those who come armed with evidence and rational arguments may be turned away.

David Thibeault came prepared Friday with pictures to explain he didn’t have a choice but to cross a double line to take his exit. But the judge countered that Thibeault did in fact have a much safer choice, that being to take the next exit.

The Montreal courthouse has become inundated with stories like these on a daily basis since the government cracked down on speeding and enforced tougher laws with stiffer fines. The result has been twice as many as court challenges as before, double the work load for prosecutors, more overtime paid to police officers to testify and a jam-packed docket at the courthouse.

On Friday, half the cases on the docket were postponed, and many of those that were heard were very late.

“It was supposed to be at 9:30,” said Pierre El Dib. “Now it’s noon, and I have to come back.”

The only people who are happy about the increased workload are the defence lawyers being hired to fight the tickets.

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