The True Cost of Hiring a Traffic Ticket Lawyer

“Hey, it’s just a failure to stop ticket, right?”
“It’s nothing too serious.” 

“It’s my first ticket in years, so it’s not a problem.” 

“I don’t need to spend money on a lawyer, I can defend myself.”

If you’ve thought or said something like any one or all of the above after getting a traffic ticket, you may not be aware of the benefits of hiring a traffic ticket lawyer. Or, more accurately, you might not realize the cost of not having professional legal representation to defend against a traffic ticket.

Consider the Following When Thinking About Hiring a Traffic Ticket Lawyer 

Interestingly, the cost of hiring a professional traffic ticket defence team doesn’t have so much to do with the actual cost of hiring a professional traffic ticket defence paralegal. If you don’t have legal representation, it could cost you a lot more.

  1. Fines & Demerit Points – The first cost of a traffic ticket that a lawyer can help you avoid is the direct costs of the fine for the ticket, and the demerit points that will be added to your driving record. Its a mistake to think that demerit points don’t have a cost. First, your car insurance rates may go up based on the number of points you have. Second, your driver’s license could be suspended after only 9 demerit points (6 points for new drivers with G1 and G2 licenses), and it will be suspended for at least 30 days after you get 15 demerit points (9 for new drivers).

  2. Car Insurance Rates – This may be the largest cost of being found guilty of a traffic charge. The guilty verdict stays on your driving record for three years. There’s no saying how much your insurance rates will go up, if at all. But, even for a first-time minor speeding charge, rates can increase by 10%. The second ticket could bump things up by 25% – and rates could go up by 100% for a third conviction.

  3. Even if Your Car Insurance Rates Don’t Go Up, You Still Have to Worry About Cost – Some car insurance companies offer a feature where your first minor speeding ticket will not affect your rates. That’s good to know. But watch out if you get a second ticket in the next three years.

To learn more about how to protect yourself against speeding tickets, check out our post “What To Do If You Get Caught In A Speed Trap”.




Why to Always Choose the “Trial Option” on a Traffic Ticket

Whether it’s for speeding, a seatbelt violation, or any of the many other non-criminal offences for which you may have received a traffic ticket, resolving the ticket is never a pleasant process.

But there’s one part of it that can seem like a real stress reliever, but it really isn’t.

After you are issued a traffic ticket, you have three options for responding to it.

  1. Option 1: Plea of Guilty – Choosing this option means you admit that you’re guilty of the offence and you pay the ticket
  2. Option 2: Early Resolution – Meet with Prosecutor – This option can seem like the perfect choice. First, you don’t admit that you’re guilty right away, and, second, you don’t have to worry about going to trial (see point 3 below). 
  3. Option 3: Trial Option – While it might sound daunting, this is the option you should always choose if you want the best chance of avoiding the consequences of being found guilty. 

Why You Should Choose the Trial Option

While the laws and enforcement methods are intended to stop you from committing an offence, one of the biggest deterrents has nothing to do with driving laws or how they are enforced. 

In addition to fines and demerit points, being found guilty of traffic offences can cause your car insurance rates to increase significantly.

If you choose the “plea of guilty” option on the ticket, even for what seems like a minor offence, the offence can remain on your driving record for three years, which means it can affect your insurance rates for that length of time.

But, even if you choose the “early resolution” option, you meet with the prosecutor and your fines and demerit points are reduced or eliminated, you are still found guilty, and your insurance rates may still go up.

By choosing the “trial option”, you give yourself the opportunity to seek legal advice, which has the potential to not only reduce or eliminate fines and demerit points, but to have the charges dropped altogether 

In that way, the “trial option” is the only one that may help you avoid any fines, demerit points and increases in your insurance rates. Even the worst-case scenario of choosing the trial option, which is you go to trial and are found guilty, you at least give yourself more time to pay the fines and you put off insurance rate increases as long as possible. 

To learn more about the consequences you may suffer if you’re found guilty of a traffic offence, check out our post “How Long Do Demerit Points Stay On Your Record In Ontario?”.




Why Driving In High Heels Is Never A Good Idea

We probably shouldn’t tell you this, but there are no laws in Canada against driving in high heels. However, you should know that, if high heels are the cause of you losing control of your vehicle, they may be a contributing factor to charges of careless driving.

But you’ll never be charged with “driving in high heels” – at least under current legislation. While we’re on the subject, it’s also a myth that you can’t drive barefoot or in flip flops. 

But that doesn’t make any of them a good idea.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Drive in High Heels

Almost to a person, professional driving instructors will tell you that thin rubber-soled shoes, not too stiff and not too flexible, with a proper fit, a closed toe and without a raised heel, are the best shoes for driving.

If you’re looking for the first clue about why you shouldn’t drive in heels, it is that high-heeled shoes are about as far as you can get from the perfect footwear for driving.

While many female drivers will swear they can drive at least as well when they wear heels as when they don’t, they’ve probably only driven in heels under normal driving conditions. But the basic reason why you shouldn’t wear high heels is that they reduce your ability to control the vehicle in an emergency situation. Here’s why that happens.

  1. Lack of Pedal Grip – The sole of high-heeled shoes do not offer the kind of pedal grip needed if you need to slam on the brake pedal, or the accelerator, to get out of an emergency. When your foot moves quickly in response to the emergency, your foot’s contact with the pedals may not be solid, and it may slip off.

  2. Unstable Anchor Point – When your foot is off any pedal in high heels, the only thing connecting it to the floor of the vehicle is the tip of the heel. In many emergency maneuvers, the vehicle may need to swerve to avoid a collision. The sudden shift in direction can destabilize your foot, making solid peal contact difficult or impossible.

  3. Can Get Caught in the Floor Mat – While the floor mat can get in the way at the best of times, a high heel can get stuck to an extent that will reduce your ability to enact pedal responses when you need to make an emergency move.

If none of those reasons convince you to never drive in high heels, perhaps this one will. It’s bad for the shoe. Not only do you put lots of pressure on the heel, at an angle it wasn’t designed to tolerate, but you can scuff the back of the heel.

Find out more about what bad driving habits might cost you in our post “What is the Penalty for Dangerous Driving?”.




Why Winter Tires Should Only Be Used In Winter

In addition to their costs, owning and maintaining a car or truck takes a lot of your time too. And, if you feel your vehicle uses up too much of your time, you might wonder if you can drive with winter tires all year round. That way, you could at least avoid the twice-yearly visit to the service centre just to get your winter tires swapped out for your summer tires or all-season tires.

3 Reasons Why You Should Never Drive with Your Winter Tires Year-Round 

Yes, you read that clearly. We said “never” and we said it because it’s a matter of the personal safety of you and your passengers.

  1. They Don’t Grip As Well – This might sound counterintuitive. Winter tires are designed for grip, aren’t they? But they are designed for grip in far colder temperatures and different road conditions than those we get in a Canadian summer. Winter tires are made from a different rubber compound and tread pattern than summer tires. In summer, the rubber compound on winter tires becomes very pliable, which can increase slippage. And the wider tread patterns mean less rubber on the road.
  2. They Don’t Stop Your Car as Quickly – In addition to increased pliability, which can promote skidding, a winter tire’s tread blocks suffer more degradation under braking. This includes literally dissolving, which makes their surface more slippery. Or they can start to marble as small bits of rubber break off, which also creates a slippery effect under the tires. In tests, winter tires require 15% more stopping distance on average versus summer tires when coming to a stop from 100 km/h, under dry, summer conditions. And that increases your chance of minor collisions. 
  1. It Is More Difficult to Control Your Car – That 15% number also applies to how much less steering precision you have when you drive with winter tires in summer conditions.

Less grip, longer stopping distances and more difficult controls also increase your chances of a careless driving ticket if you are found at fault in a collision that could have been avoided with summer tires.

If you enjoyed this post, check out our recent article “What to Do if You get caught in a Speed Trap”. 




Why All-Season Tires Won’t Cut It In Canada’s Winters

Its that time of year when drivers across Canada have the “winter tires vs all-season tires” debate.

The Two Sides Of The Debate 

On the winter tires side, there really isn’t a debate. The winner is clear. Winter tires provide better traction to start moving, and stop, while driving on snow and ice. Consumer Reports testing found that, on average, winter tires will stop a car almost two metres shorter than all-season tires. 

There are three main ways in which winter tires are designed better than all-seasons for driving on ice, snow and slush.

  • Tread Patterns & Depth – Snow tires feature deeper and wider tread patterns that are designed to minimize snow build-up in the treads, and to channel away snow, slush and water. They also have biting edges, or tiny slits, on the side of the tread for added ice and snow traction.

  • Rubber Compounds – Winter tires are made of softer rubber compounds that give them better grip in colder temperatures.

  • Tire Widths – Winter tires are generally narrower than all-seasons so they don’t “float” on top of snow and ice.

Interestingly, many all-season tires proponents concede that winter tires are better for driving in winter conditions. Their argument is that, depending on where you live, winter’s snow and icy conditions only happen a few times a year and that the winter performance characteristics of all-seasons are enough to get them through those few times.

When All-Season Tires Won’t Cut It  

But there’s one scenario where all-season tires can have dire consequences when used in winter conditions. If we take that average difference in stopping distance of almost two metres, and apply it to the case of young drivers tackling their first winters with little or no winter driving experience, the consequences of not using winter tires can be catastrophic.  

If you found this article helpful, check out our recent post about how long demerit points stay on your driving record.




What To Do If You’re Charged With A Parking Lot Hit And Run

There are a number of misunderstandings surrounding a hit and run accident, also known as  “failure to remain” offence.

The stereotype of a driver who is involved in an accident and leaves the scene without stopping is just one reason why a driver may face charges of hit and run. Even if the driver stays for some time, but later leaves the scene of an accident without giving the following information, he or she may still be charged with a hit and run.

  • Name and address
  • Driver’s Licence number and jurisdiction
  • The vehicle’s insurer and policy number
  • The name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle
  • Vehicle permit number

When You’re Charged With a Hit & Run in a Parking Lot

Another misunderstanding about hit and run charges is that, if you hit a parked car in a parking lot, it’s not always a matter for the police, and there is not necessarily a penalty for a hit and run in a parking lot.

Make no mistake, you can be charged if you leave the scene of a parking lot collision in the same way as for car accidents on the street. And you face the same penalties too, including:

  • A fine of between $400-$2000
  • Seven demerit points
  • Possible suspension of your driver’s licence for up to two years
  • Possible jail time of up to six months

Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act states that you must file a police report for motor vehicle accidents that involve one or more of the following criteria. This includes accidents that occur in parking lots.

  • Personal injury
  • Property damage in excess of $2,000
  • Damage to highway property

If the collision involves personal injury, you should call 911. If the collision doesn’t involve personal injury or require an emergency response for any other reason, you should call the direct number for your local police. The police may choose not to send a police officer to the accident scene and direct you instead to the nearest Collision Reporting Centre.

In that case, you do not need to supply the information listed above at the scene of the accident, but you must do so to the officers at the Collision Reporting Centre.

If you leave the scene of an accident in a parking lot without at least leaving a note with your contact information, and the other details listed above, or reporting the accident to the police, you may eventually be charged with “Fail to Report”.

In those cases, you may receive a letter or phone call from the police asking you to visit the police station and make a statement about the accident.

Do not visit the police station before contacting and getting the legal advice of a complete defence team, like the one at X-Copper, with experience and expertise in defending against fail to report charges. 

There are many mitigating circumstances in a parking lot collision, including that you may not even have known that you hit another vehicle. But the consequences can be serious and, even if you’re innocent, it’s a mistake to ignore the charges or defend yourself in court. Get in touch with us today to get a free quote.

You can find more about what to do if you face other types of driving charges in our other blog posts, including “What To Do If You Get Caught In A Speed Trap”.




How to Stop a Fake Car Accident Claim

It’s an auto insurance scam that costs car insurance companies millions of dollars in fraudulent claims. A cost that’s handed down to drivers in the form of higher insurance rates. Insurance fraud through a fake car accident claim is on the rise across Canada and no driver should feel immune from becoming a victim.

How Fake Car Accidents Happen

Sometimes called staged accidents, they can happen in many different ways. The following are among the most common set-ups that scammers use to make claims for staged collisions.

  • Another vehicle intentionally drives into your vehicle
  • Real accidents with injury claims for victims who were not involved in the accident, or for fake injuries.
  • Accident reports for auto accidents that did not happen

In addition to paying for the overall cost of fake insurance claims through higher average insurance rates, innocent drivers may also face increased rates for their own car insurance if they are found “at fault” in a staged accident.

6 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Fake Car Accidents Claims

If you are in a car accident, take the following steps to reduce your chance of becoming the victim of a car insurance scam.

  1. Get full names and contact information (mailing address, telephone number, email address) for the other driver(s) and the other occupant(s) of the vehicle(s).
  2. Write or record your observations about the physical condition of the other driver(s) and occupant(s). Are they injured? What’s been injured? Or are they walking around without any apparent injury?
  3. Use a camera or your cell phone to take pictures of the accident scene. Take images of the overall scene from different angles. Take images of each car involved in the accident. Get images of the license plates of each car involved, and pictures of the damage to each car.
  4. When police arrive, ask for a copy of their accident report. If police don’t attend, write down everything you can remember about the circumstances that lead up to the accident and call the police as soon as you can to file a report about the accident.
  5. Look for witnesses and ask for their contact information 
  6. If anyone else recommends that you use a particular tow truck company or auto repair shop, don’t take their advice. Research and retain your own tow truck and body shop.

If you found this post helpful, check out our recent article about what to do if you get caught in a speed trap.




What Is The Penalty For Dangerous Driving?

Like all criminal charges, the penalty for dangerous driving can vary depending on the circumstances under which the charge was made. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, penalties for a dangerous driving conviction can include jail time, a fine, a driver’s licence suspension, and a driver’s licence suspension (minimum one year). 

That said, if you are charged with dangerous driving, the worst penalty may not be the sentence you get when you are convicted. As a criminal charge, a conviction for dangerous driving means you will have a criminal record for the rest of your life (unless you apply for and receive a pardon). A criminal record can affect your ability to travel outside of Canada, find a job, go to school or even be a volunteer.

It all adds up to mean that, if you have been charged with dangerous driving, you need the legal advice of a criminal lawyer with experience and expertise in defending against dangerous driving convictions so you can minimize the effect it has on your life. 

Maximum Penalties for a Dangerous Driving Conviction 

Officially known as dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, dangerous driving charges are levelled against a person who operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public.

It is a hybrid offence, which means that it can be considered a less serious summary conviction, or a more serious indictable offence. Of course, penalties for summary convictions are generally lower than those for indictable offences.

  • Maximum penalties for a conviction of dangerous driving are a fine of $5,000 and/or a jail sentence of six months. 
  • The maximum penalty for a conviction of dangerous driving causing bodily harm is five years of imprisonment.
  • The maximum penalty for a conviction of dangerous driving causing death is 14 years of imprisonment.

In addition to the penalties imposed by the courts, the Highway Traffic Act stipulates a mandatory one-year license suspension for a dangerous driving conviction. License suspensions may be longer, including being suspended indefinitely, for repeat offences and/or those for dangerous driving causing bodily harm or death.
If you found this article helpful, check out our recent post about what to do if you get caught in a speed trap.




Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm: Sentence & Charges

There are many misconceptions about impaired driving causing bodily harm sentences and charges.

One of the biggest is that you must have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 (80 milligrams) or over to be charged with impaired driving. Unfortunately, this can lead people to presume, because they have not had “too many”, they cannot be charged with impaired driving. 

According to the provisions of the “Operation While Impaired” offence under paragraph 253 of the Criminal Code of Canada:

253 (1) Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle or vessel or operates or assists in the operation of an aircraft or of railway equipment or has the care or control of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment, whether it is in motion or not,

(a) while the person’s ability to operate the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment is impaired by alcohol or a drug; or

(b) having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person’s blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood.

In other words, under the law, you can be considered “impaired” while driving a motor vehicle even if your BAC is below 80 milligrams.

Maximum sentences for impaired driving (DWI) convictions are identical to those of driving under the influence (DUI – over 80 milligrams BAC) convictions.

Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm Sentences

Canada recently introduced new, more stringent impaired driving laws and they are now among the toughest in the world. 

While the maximum penalty for summary convictions of DWI and DUI are 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fines, impaired driving causing bodily harm is a more serious, indictable offence and liable for a maximum penalty of imprisonment for a term of 10 years. In addition to fines and being liable to imprisonment, sentencing penalties can include driving prohibitions for many years following conviction.

Considering the potential severity of sentencing, you should get the legal advice of a criminal lawyer with experience and expertise in defending against impaired driving causing bodily harm charges to ensure your full rights are protected.
If you found this article helpful, check out our post “First Offence Dui: 4 Things You Should Know”.




How Long Does A Criminal Record Last For Theft?

It can seem harmless enough. No one gets hurt in a theft. At least not physically. You’ve done it before and you got away with it. You know how to get around the security and you need the money. And, after all, how long does a criminal record last for theft anyway? Especially for something like theft under $5000. Can’t be that long? Can it?

Yes, it can. It can be a lifetime.

This is how long a criminal record lasts for theft in Canada

In trying to justify the execution of a crime, people can start telling themselves things that may or may not be true. In trying to find reasons why things will work out, you can get some things confused. Like the nature of criminal charges and the criminal record that follows a conviction.

Criminal charges, and the sentences you may have to serve, vary based on the seriousness of the crime. Of course, without extenuating circumstances, the sentence for being convicted of murder will be much more serious than the sentence for a theft conviction.

Even within certain criminal offense categories, like theft, sentences can vary widely. The sentence for a theft under $5000 conviction will be substantially less than that for another form of theft like robbery.

But there is one consequence of being convicted of a criminal act that lasts for the same amount of time regardless of the seriousness of the crime.

In Canada, if you don’t get a criminal record suspension, your criminal conviction will be on your record for life. For a theft under $5000 convictions: life. For an armed robbery conviction: life.

That means you’ll have to endure all the difficulties of having a criminal record for the rest of your life, including difficulty in being allowed to travel outside the country, difficulty in finding a job, even difficulty in going back to school.

That’s why, if you’ve been charged with theft, you need expert legal advice and representation that specializes in fighting theft charges to minimize the impact of the charges on your record, and your life.

If you found this post helpful, check out our recent post about what to do when you’re accused of fraud.