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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
This topic will discuss the types of traffic tickets that you may receive for a traffic offence. Traffic tickets include:
- Traffic tags
- Traffic tickets with a specified penalty amount
- Multi-Nova speeding tickets
- Traffic summons where you must appear in Court
After you have been given a ticket by a police officer, you should ensure not to do anything that will make the incident more memorable to the police officer. Do not start an argument with the police officer about whether you deserved the ticket. Do not provoke or anger the police officer by displaying poor attitude and manners. You should immediately make detailed notes about what happened, as this will be of great assistance to you if and when you decide to dispute the ticket.
It will be wise to write down the following details as soon as possible after the incident:
- The contact information of all witnesses present at the time of the incident/scene, including their names, addresses and telephone numbers and email addresses.
- The location of the traffic signs and the signals.
- The other vehicles and their position in relation to one another.
- The road conditions and the weather.
- Any other details that you feel are relevant.
Look to see what kind of traffic ticket you were issued. Traffic tickets are issued under different legislation. You may have a ticket issued for an offence under the Motor Vehicles Act, the Highway Traffic Act or the local by-laws of a town or city.
A traffic tag is issued by the city or town where the offence was committed. The city or town has authority to make and enforce laws for their own traffic control and parking. This traffic tag is most often a parking ticket.
A specified penalty traffic summons will indicate a specified fine on the ticket. There are numerous other offences contained in the public statutes for which a traffic summons may be issued. For example, the offence may be for:
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Making an unsafe lane change
- Driving without a license
- Driving without insurance
You may pay the specified amount on the traffic ticket before the Court date provided on the ticket. You will not be required to attend the Court if you pay the fine before the Court date. If you do not pay the fine, you are required to attend the Court on the date provided. You must tell the Court what you are intending to do. For example, you may want to dispute the ticket; you must attend Court and ask for a trial date.
If you receive a ‘Multi-Nova’ speeding ticket, it is a notice to inform you that your vehicle was photographed while someone in your vehicle was speeding. You are liable for the fine as the registered owner of the vehicle even if you were not driving the vehicle. The notice will tell you where you may go to see the photograph of your vehicle. You will not receive any demerit points against you under this type of ticket. You may either pay the fine before the Court date, or do nothing. If you do nothing, then the police may serve you with a traffic summons to attend Court. A traffic summons means that you must appear in Court to answer the charge. Look at the box that says “specified penalties” – if it has the word “Court” written in the box then you must appear in Court. You have no option to pay a specified fine.
Traffic summons are issued for more serious traffic violations. For example, the more serious traffic violations include:
- Careless driving
- Hit and run accidents.
- Failing to stop at a stop sign or red light.
Traffic summons are issued for any other incident where the consequences are serious. For example, serious consequences include personal injury, or property damage that may arise from the incident. You must appear in Court. If you wish to plead not guilty, appear in Court on the date and time indicated on the traffic ticket, and enter a plea of not guilty and ask for a trial date. You may want to talk to the Crown prosecutor before the Court session begins to agree on a trial date.
You may not be issued a traffic summons immediately after the police officers stop you for a particular incident or offence. Police may charge you up to 6 months after the incident or offence. You may want to write down any details of the incident even if you were not charged at the time of the police stop.
The penalty may be a fine up to $1,000 or 6 months in jail for offences such as hit and run, speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road, failure to stop at a stop sign, or red light and careless driving, among others. Where the consequences of the offence are serious, and there is personal injury or property damage arising from the incident, the Judge may also decide to suspend your license. Less serious offences generally result in a fine, surcharge and demerit points.