The Courts Are Still Closed – What You Need To Know If You’ve Received a Traffic Ticket During COVID-19!
Following up from our last post regarding COVID-19 and the court closures in Ontario we will be looking at the latest updates from the court and how it impacts you if you are dealing with a matter. The courts have provided us with further updates regarding when the courts are re-opening, and what the courts might look like in a post-covid environment as well as the requirements that attendants must follow to enter the building.
Dealing with a traffic ticket can be confusing. Add in an unprecedented court closure and worldwide lockdown and things become much more confusing. Policies and laws are being re-written daily to adapt to changes we are facing to curb the effects of COVID-19 on our economy. Keeping up with these changes can be tiresome and intimidating to an individual with no legal experience.
If you’ve received a traffic ticket during COVID-19, let’s take a look at some of the questions you will probably be asking yourself.
Can I still fight my ticket when the courts are closed?
Absolutely! Even though the courts are physically closed and not allowing the public to enter, you can still file to request a dispute of your charge and be provided with a court date when the courts resume.
When will the courts re-open?
This answer has changed a few times during the pandemic. Originally, court staff and government officials were overly optimistic – Indicating a return date approximately 4 weeks after a “State of Emergency” was announced in Ontario. As it became evident things were not going to be resolved in such a short time, the delay extended to May 2020.
As of July 2, 2020, the Ontario government has advised the courts will resume in-person proceedings on September 14, 2020.
When will I get my court date?
Prior to COVID, the courts already moved slowly. The judicial system is not exceptionally fast and sometimes matters can move through very slowly. Add in an unprecedented court closure and worldwide pandemic, it can only be assumed they will move even slower through the courts once they resume. If you have received a traffic ticket during COVID and requested to dispute the charge, you may receive a court date months away.
Will my charge get thrown out because the courts are closed?
Traffic tickets are governed by the Highway Traffic Act and it’s enabling legislation – the Provincial Offences Act. Normally, there are deadlines the court must follow regarding the procedure a traffic ticket takes through the court system. If these timelines are infringed and the court believes the defendant has faced prejudice as a result of the delay, a charge could be dismissed by the court.
With the courts closed, there’s no question the court will not be able to meet their obligations under the Act. In the interest of the administration of justice, all limitation periods under the Provincial Offences Act have been suspended by an order under s. 7.1.2(2) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
If you would to view the order, you can read it in its entirety here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200073
What to do if you need help with your ticket?
If you have been charged by the police with a traffic ticket it is important to seek out the information you need to know what the impacts of the charge may be. A minor fine on a ticket may be misleading regarding the severity of the charge. It is important to always get the information you need to make an informed decision.
OTD Legal Services provides free consultations for anyone that has received a traffic ticket from the police. You will receive all the information you need to know how to proceed and the consultation is complimentary.
Contact us today to speak with a former prosecutor regarding your charge!