You’ve Received a Ticket

What do you do when you receive a parking or traffic ticket?

First of all carefully look at and review your ticket.  There are companies out there that generate what appear to be parking tickets that are a reasonable facsimile of the legitimate tickets.  In the City of Toronto (it could be any city) a company, Municipal Parking Corporation, operates in Toronto. The tickets that they generate are not legally enforceable, given that they are not generated on behalf the Municipality of Toronto, in accordance with the Provincial Offences Act.  These could be considered “private” tickets and need not be paid.  If you don’t pay them, the Ministry of Transportation will not attempt to collect the fines and fees, when you purchase your renewal sticker.  These “private” companies, are not Green Hornets, Municipal Law Enforcement Officers or police officers and therefore cannot derive any enforcement ability under the Provincial Offences Act. They claim that they are acting on behalf of property owners pursuant to the “Trespass Act”.

The format of the ticket must comply with the Provincial Offences Act and must also be in accordance with the City of Toronto Municipal Code or the Bylaws (or your city’s municipal codes and bylaws). If the ticket that you have does not look like a ticket issued by the city which issued the ticket, then you should carefully examine it and Google the company to find out if it can legitimately generate tickets that you are required to pay.  If you aren’t sure, call the city hall of your city and find out if the tickets are issued on behalf of the city or on behalf of a private business.  If it is a private business, keep the ticket but do not pay it.  If a dispute arises later, you will have the ticket as proof.

Look very carefully at the ticket and the logo’s that appear on it.  In Toronto, a Municipal ticket will contain the “City of Toronto” logo (or your City logo), and a “Toronto Police” logo (or your City Police) and the Ontario Court of Justice, Toronto Region (your Region) and will call it a “Parking Infraction Notice – City of Toronto” and will contain a reference to the “Signature of Issuing Provincial Offences Officer.  The back of the ticket must contain “trial options” to be a legitimate ticket. The only location in Toronto where parking tickets that are going to trial are heard is located on north of the Highway of Heroes (Highway 401) at 1530 Markham Road (Ground Floor), Toronto, Ontario. There are nine (9) court rooms at this City of Toronto location.

These additional steps apply anywhere and everywhere:

Take a lot of notes. Write down everything that happened. Remember the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why).

If you received a parking ticket – write some notes: was a sign posted? what did the sign say? what address is your vehicle parked in front of? What are weather conditions like?  Is it night or day, is it dark out or is it a bright sunny day?

What is the date and time? When did you park there? If necessary, take some pictures or videos.  Who issued the ticket (a description of the individual)? Were they on foot, in a car, on bike, on horse? Was the meter you were parked in front of in good operating shape (was it working properly)? If you had paid for parking, where was the slip, was it on your dashboard?

When did it expire?  What were the circumstances which led to your vehicle being ticketed?  Next, you must read the ticket and see if it is accurate or not? Does it have the correct date and time? Does it have the correct charge?  Does it state the car manufacturers name and type of vehicle (sometimes it just states “Ford” but it neglects to say that it is a Blue Ford Bronco).

A careful review at the time the ticket is issued will greatly increase your chances winning, later on down the road.

If you are bring pulled over by a Police Officer then an entirely different approach is required.  It is amazing how often people attempt to negotiate their way out of a ticket, when pulled over by a Police Officer, either on a road or highway.

It is so important to remember that the conversation that you have with an officer under these circumstances, can and will be used against you.  If the Officer suggests you did something wrong, do not agree with him/her and don’t attempt to defend yourself.  Let him/her say whatever they want to say and provide the Police Officer with your license, ownership and your insurance documents.

Should I contest my parking ticket, upon receiving one?

Yes.  There is a good chance of winning your ticket, especially in Toronto.

Due to the enormous number of tickets issued every year, and the number of people who seek to challenge those tickets, the Courts cannot possibly provide enough timely trial dates in response to all the people seeking one.  As a result, people who have chosen to challenge their parking tickets have been waiting years for their trial date.  I will review the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) and more specifically section 11(b) of the Charter later in this site.  The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the guidelines for a trial in Canada is 8-10 months based on section 11 (b) of the Charter.  The longer you have to wait for a trial, the better your chances are of having the charges stayed (suspend or cancel), due to the inordinate delay. See the Application for Stay of Proceedings page after the Notice of Trial page. The Application for Stay of Proceeding reviews the law, the process and procedure about filing your Section 11(b) Constitutional motion and provides you with the form (in one of three formats to choose from) that you can fill out with information that is only specific to your case.

Section 8 of the Provincial Offences Act provides that payment of an offence notice (ticket) constitutes a plea of guilty and results in a conviction being registered.

It should be noted that those issuing the tickets, don’t as a rule, ever record anything else, other than the particulars contained on the ticket and therefore will have limited to no recall of the event and will not be able to establish, through their evidence, that your vehicle was parked in an area which prohibited parking.

Sometimes, the clerk who is receiving the ticket can initiate an investigation into your ticket or may even withdraw the ticket if it is improper on the face or quotes a bylaw or code that doesn’t exist. It should be remembered that currently the City cannot keep up with the demand for trials. In the last two (2) years, out of the almost 3 million tickets issued a year (a majority by 304 parking enforcement officers) only two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000.00) motorists who have received tickets have requested trials. Out of the quarter of a million motorists who have requested trials over the last two (2) years, only 4,300 have received trial dates. By the time the trial is scheduled, your right to a trial within a reasonable time (under section 11 (b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), has been infringed upon, given that it has taken over a year to get to trial (and the Supreme Court said in a decision called Morin” that the guidelines for trials are 8 to 10 months).

What does a Parking Ticket look like in the City of Toronto:

The official name for a parking ticket is a “Parking Infraction Notice” issued by the City of Toronto. This tickets (thin waxy paper) are spit out from a hand held computer unit (once all of the information has been entered) and are canary yellow in colour.  These tickets are approximately 20 centimetres long and are 7.5 centimetres in width and paper thin.  Here is an example of what they look like:

parking ticket torontoparking ticket toronto

This ticket (front & back) tells us a number of different things:

It is issued by the City of Toronto (under the authority of the Provincial Offences Act and in coordination with the Ontario Court of Justice, Toronto Region).

On the top portion of the front of the ticket, under the barcode on the left, a name appears and under the name D. Sirois. It is written “believes from personal knowledge and certifies that on” – this is the name of the law enforcement Officer (either a Green Hornet, an MLEO or a Police Officer) who wrote the ticket.  So D. Sirois believes and certifies that on July 17, 2006 at 3:15 p.m., that a motor vehicle with a license plate Number (not provided), with a license that expires in September 2005, from the Province of Ontario, the vehicle make a “Toyota”, in the “City of Toronto” which was parked (no location provided on the training ticket), did commit the parking infraction “PARK SIGNED HIGHWAY DURING PROHIBITED TIMES/DAYS” which violated (Code No.1). Code No. 1 refers to the City of Toronto’s Municipal Code. The Ticket continues, stating it is “Contrary to (Bylaw or Code)” in this case Code No. 1

The next field states “Set Fine Amount  $ 30.00” this fine cannot be set, without an order under the Provincial Offences Act. The next line states “Signature of Issuing Provincial Offences Officer (Green Hornet, MLEO or police officer)” Then there is a signature (D. Sirois) of the same officer that is named on the top left hand portion of the ticket (this signature is logged in the memory and spit out when the ticket is generated). The Officer is then identified by an “Officer No” (65523) and Unit (PXE)

At the very bottom there is a “Notice”: this notice informs you to pay your ticket, within 15 calender days of the  “infraction date” (in this case the so-called “infraction date was July 17, 2006 – 15 days later – August 1, 2006) or to choose to another option by August 1, 2006 (deliver a Notice of Intention to Appear ; in court and seek a trial).  The notice goes on to state that if you do not pay your fine or if you do not appear in court for trial that you will be deemed not to dispute this charge (violation of Code No. 29) and a conviction may be entered against you (they will have a trial in absentia and you will be convicted in absentia).  It further states that “upon conviction, you will be required to pay the set fine ($30.00) plus court costs.  An administrative fee is payable if the fine goes into default (you don’t pay it) and the information may be provided to a credit bureau.  You must attend one of the addresses (Parking Tag Operations – 4 locations Downtown, East, West or North) on the reverse to request a trial or discuss this Notice (the ticket). Go Mon-Fri. during the hours between 8:30 am. to 4:30 p.m.,  they are not open on Saturday, Sunday, Statutory Holidays or Civic Holidays.

The four locations in Toronto in which you can bring your ticket, to request a trial which will most likely never be scheduled and will never take place:

Parking Tag Operations – Central
55 John Street (John south of King)
3rd Floor, Metro Hall, Toronto, Ontario

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Parking Tag Operations – East
1530 Markham Road
Main Floor, Scarborough, Ontario

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Parking Tag Operations – West
York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West
Main Floor, York, Ontario

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Parking Tag Operations – North
North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street
Ground Floor, North York, Ontario

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 pm

Note: All four sites are wheelchair accessible.

The Best Option:  Attend one of the four locations (North, Central, East or West – the most convenient one for you) and indicate that you want to proceed to trial.  Fill out the Notice of Intention to Appear indicating that you want a trial and will be challenging the Officer’s evidence (we will talk about disclosure later and why it is very important that you always challenge the Officer’s evidence in any trial).  Also ensure that you indicate what language you want your trial to be held in, if it is other than English (this is your right under section 14 of the Charter). Upon filling this out and providing it to the clerk at one of the four Parking Tag Operation’s offices, you will be told that you will be receiving a “Notice of Trial” in the mail.

The City of Toronto has stopped issuing trial dates for $30 parking tickets. Anyone who gets one can still request a date for trial to contest the parking ticket – and will be told a trial date will be coming in the mail – but the letter never arrives and no conviction is registered. The city figured out it’s far less costly to give people who have received tickets the impression that that will eventually have their case heard in court and to offer the option of having a trial, then just forget about it and to have to actually administer justice.  If you receive a parking ticket, you must request a trial in order to have the parking ticket thrown out; if you ignore it, you will be convicted in absentia and will receive an even bigger bill in the mail.

All trials for parking tickets issued in Toronto are heard at one of the nine (9) Court Rooms located 1530 Markham Road, Ground Floor (on Markham Road, north of Highway 401)(also known as the “Highway of Heroes”).

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