Update: see previous posts – Sept.20/14 Vancouver: Revenue is Way Down Using Administrative Penalty System (APS) for Parking Tickets
Following consultation for a new system, the province has decided to instead focus on improving the court-based system for disputing, paying traffic tickets.
Ontario has scrapped a proposal to have people pay traffic tickets online or dispute them outside of court.
The Liberal government last year proposed dealing with Provincial Offences Act matters such as traffic and minor bylaw tickets through a civil system, known as administrative monetary penalties, rather than in the criminal courts.
Under such systems, a driver caught speeding is assessed a financial penalty without a court hearing and if they want to dispute it, the matter would go to a hearing officer.
The idea was lauded by supporters as a move that could save court time and costs, but was decried by opponents as taking away people’s right to their day in court.
The government released a paper last year that broadly outlined a proposal, but with the caveat that details — such as the key one of how the system would operate — were “beyond the scope” of the consultation.
Dozens of municipalities and legal groups submitted responses, and while opposition and support was mixed, many said the government hadn’t provided nearly enough information for them to offer proper commentary.
So the government went back to the consultation drawing board, but has now decided the administrative monetary penalties are off the table.
“Based on the feedback we received, we have decided to focus our efforts on improving the existing court-based system for disputing and paying traffic tickets and other POA charges, rather than pursuing an administrative monetary penalty (AMP) model,” Jenna Mannone, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General, said in a statement.
“We remain committed to making the traffic ticket process simpler, more accessible and more convenient and we are continuing to consult with municipal and justice sector partners to explore opportunities.”
Though the offences in question are quasi-criminal themselves, the process to fight them is similar to a criminal trial and uses court resources accordingly.
In 2014, about 17 per cent of provincial court time went to Provincial Offences Act matters, even though only 3 per cent of tickets resulted in a full trial, according to the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The City of Hamilton’s submission “strongly” encouraged administrative monetary penalties.
“The POA courts which we operate are currently at capacity and beyond, with an ever-increasing backlog,” the city wrote in its submission.
Assistant city solicitor Ron Sabo said he believes the province will eventually introduce administrative monetary penalties for those charges under pressure from municipalities.
“The public supports an informal process,” he said Hamilton has found. “Most are not looking to hire a legal representative and take the matter to trial, they want some process they can understand and complete relatively easily and quickly.”
On the other side, the Ontario Paralegal Association said the system would remove the presumption of innocence.
“When you have a police officer making an accusation of wrongdoing from which nobody has the right to challenge under, the monetary penalty system is just wrong in our minds,” said president Stephen Parker.
“The whole premise behind an administrative monetary penalty system is simply to dispute the penalty and nothing else.”