Alberta Criminal Lawyers Say Traffic Court Changes Misleading

The province of Alberta is in talks with stakeholders regarding a new way of solving disputes over traffic tickets. Rather than having each dispute go to court, cases will be overseen by an adjudicator and an administrative panel would review the appeals.

According to several Alberta-based lawyers, the government’s reasons for revamping traffic court cases is misleading the public. Government officials claim that traffic court cases are occupying resources that would be better used in serious criminal cases —Ian Savage, president of Calgary-based Criminal Defence Lawyers Association says that this is not the case.

Dismantling Traffic Court Would Take Away Right to Due Process

Lawyers in Edmonton and Calgary argue that the government’s move to dismantle traffic court would harm a defendant’s right to due process. The president of Edmonton’s Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, Shannon Prithipaul, agrees that the current system is not taxing to other criminal court resources.

“We don’t have the provincial court judges hearing traffic matters. We have justices of the peace and commissionaires. We don’t have Crown prosecutors prosecuting traffic matters. We have, usually, agents and retired officers, so where is the impact on the criminal justice system?”

The most troubling part of the proposed changes is the fact that the adjudicator would have access to the police report, but the officer would not have to attend the hearing. Savage argues that once officers are no longer required to appear in court to justify their tickets, the number of wrongful convictions will noticeably increase.

Right to Fight Traffic Tickets Will Not be Revoked

Alberta Justice Minister, Jonathan Denis says that the proposed changes to traffic court practices will not affect drivers’ right to challenge traffic tickets. According to Denis, the criminal lawyers are mistaken in their claims that traffic court does not impact other criminal court resources.

“Traffic court uses the same infrastructure, it uses the same security, the same computer system and the same support staff,” he says. “In smaller courthouses, the traffic court system often spills over into the criminal courts.”

Charlie Pester, a traffic ticket specialist from POINTTS believes that the government’s attempts to change traffic court is nothing more than a scare tactic.

“They can’t justify this in any other way other than to try to scare the public into believing that if traffic court stays the way it is, we’re going to lose sexual assault cases. It’s absolutely not true.”

Calgary Lawyers Can Help Fight Your Traffic Tickets

The lawyers at Dunn & Associates have been serving Calgary since 1972, and are dedicated to helping you defend yourself against charges associated with traffic violations. If you are facing an unfair traffic ticket, our experienced criminal defence lawyers are here to help.

Posted on May 14th, 2014