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A Guide to the Law in Alberta Regarding Traffic Safety Act Offences
TSA Offence and Expected Consequence
Driving without a subsisting license
Driving without a license in your possession
$ 200-300 fine
No Insurance, including being the owner of the vehicle and allowing someone to drive it uninsured
$ 2875 fine
Impaired Driving Conviction * first one only, if more than one the suspension increases
One year license disqualification
Dangerous driving Conviction
One year license disqualification
Driving while license suspended or disqualified
s.94(2) Under section 95, the result of section 94, is a fine of no more than $ 2000 AND a license suspension for 6 months
(the fine is generally 350 for first time offenses, but the circumstances affect the fine)
Fine + 6 Demerits
Fine varies depending on which sub-section. Often the voluntary payment option states $ 402
* SLS is currently handling No Insurance Tickets ONLY (s. 54 or s. 160 owner of the vehicle driven with no insurance under 54). Municipal Bylaws will be dealt with on a discretionary basis: NO jaywalking, LRT tickets or other absolute liability matters. All other matters will be discretionary.
Pleading Guilty to a TSA Offence
How do I Plead Guilty?
- Get to Court early
- Speak to the Crown, who is generally seated at the desk on the right. Ask the Crown what type of fine they are looking for if you plead guilty. You can also ask about demerits and driving suspensions
- Wait your turn, they will call your last name in order, after the lawyers and student lawyers are finished their matters
- Stand up at or near the desk on the left
- Inform the judge that you want to enter a guilty plea
- The clerk will read the charge to you at which point you say “guilty”
- In order to plead guilty you must accept and admit to the facts (ex. that you drove without a license)
What Type of Things should I tell the Judge?
- How old you are
- If you are married or single
- If you have kids
- Where you are working and how long you have been working there
- If you are not working, you can inform the judge of your income situation, for example, that you are on AISH or EI or supported by your partner
- Any volunteer work
- Ramble off excuses (ex. I was having a bad day) that are not important
- Blame someone else
- Complain about how the police treated you
The above “Don’t” things do not assist your case. If you have an excuse it may not be a defense, sometimes it can be an explanation and that may be fine. If you blame other people, you probably are not accepting responsibility and thus are not really pleading guilty. The way the police treated you may be relevant but it does not necessarily change that you drove without a license or something similar, it may be something you can deal with separately by making a formal complaint to the police. An excuse can sometimes be a defence (ex. You were driving without insurance, but you thought you had insurance), so speak to Duty Counsel or the Crown before pleading.
THE LEGAL EDUCATION AND REFORM PROJECT HAS PROVIDED IN DEPTH PAMPHLETS ON ‘HOW TO RUN YOUR OWN TRIAL’ AND ‘SENTENCING’, you can get these online at www.slsedmonton.com or at our University Location or Outreaches. These are valuable and provide much more information than these basic steps.
Basics of Running Your Own Traffic Trial
1. The Crown starts by calling its witnesses, generally this means the police officers that gave you the traffic ticket. Sometimes, it can also include any civilian witnesses that saw the event, called the police or were involved in the offense (example: in the hit and run).
2. After each witness, the defense (you) can question the witness. You may not need to ask them anything, but you can ask them questions about anything that they stated in court .
3. When the Crown has called all their witnesses, the defense (you), can call witnesses.
4. Some Potential witnesses you may want to call: A person who acts as your alibi (that knows you were not there), yourself (for example, to explain why you thought you had a license), another person who can speak to why you might think you had insurance (for example: you where driving their car and they told you that it was insured), the passengers in your vehicle.
5. For your witness, you are questioning them, but you cannot lead them. For example you have to ask “what color was the car?” instead of “the car was blue, is that right?” (the first one is open-ended and does not tell the witness the answer)
6. When you have called all your witnesses, your case is closed.
7. If you presented witnesses then you will make your argument for why you are not guilty first; if you did not call witnesses then the Crown will go first.
8. The judge considers all the evidence and then makes a decision.
9. If you are acquitted, you are free to go. If you are found guilty, you should consider the above “pleading guilty” factors so that you can convince the judge to give you a low fine and an appropriate time to pay that fine.