B.C. Government moving to eliminate traffic court

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By: Amy Judge / Global News

VANCOUVER – The B.C. Government has confirmed it is moving to eliminate traffic court.

That means the next time you get a traffic ticket that you want to dispute, you may not be heading to court to do it.

Amendments were passed in 2012, which are now being put into place, to establish new rules for handling traffic tickets under the Motor Vehicle Act. One of the changes will involve an online payment system that will then be followed by the new hearing process.

The government says the new system is designed to record infractions against drivers more efficiently and also intervene in cases of high-risk drivers quicker.

However, there are concerns with the new system and the appeal process. Drivers will first be given the opportunity to plead guilty to the offence, which if they do not want to do, will have to go before a hearing at the Driving Notice Review Board. However, at the pre-hearing the driver must provide evidence and / or witness statements. The police officer must also submit evidence in a report but they do not have to appear in court to do so.

Vancouver lawyer Paul Doroshenko told CKNW it will make fighting the ticket harder.

“If you still dispute it, then you have to go to the next level which is a hearing where you have to lay out all of you evidence, and then the police get to come back and [say] why they think you’re guilty, and then that tribunal will ultimately render a decision,” he told Simi Sara.

B.C.’s NDP critic for finance, Mike Farnworth, says this move is “outrageous.”

“This is a fundamental assault on the freedoms of people of British Columbia by this legislation that the government is now enacting,” he says. “They are stripping away the rights of people to be heard in court and they’re doing it because they’re removing a whole class of offences, of traffic offences, and say they’re not going to go through the court system anymore and they’re doing that because they’ve been underfunding the court system for years.”

“And they think the solution to the problem is to strip away your right to have your day in court.”

He says that is “not Canada”, adding it should not happen in a democracy.

“People are entitled to have their day in court,” says Farnworth.

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