RE: Careless Driving - 6 Demerit Points
I would appreciate ANY help I can get for my daughter. She was just involved in a 1 car crash. It was this past Thursday on Richmond St. by Western Road. Roads were VERY bad. It was 6:20am and she was driving to work. We live out in Lucan and when she got into London (as usual) the roads were horrible. She pretty much slowed down to just over 30km / hr. She ended up fish-tailing and thought she had gained controlled but ended up going over the curb (round ones not square) and hitting a KM (speed-limit) sign. She ended up bending it over and did damage to her car. Muffler and driver side door. $2500 worth of damage for just over 30 km/hr. Anyway we are going to talk to a Ticket Specialist tomorrow but want to know if this is possible to fight the ticket ourselves. She only works part time and can't afford her deductible, ticket and hiring a Traffic Ticket Specialist. She is only 20 years old - G Driver and first accident. I have researched that we should do the following:
1. Plead not guilty
2. Get a full disclosure for the police report.
Questions I have:
1. Has anyone had success with this type of ticket?
2. How did you fight it?
3. Would it be better to go and try to get it reduced in the courthouse?
4. If the courthouse reduced it what would it be reduced to?
5. What are the chances that this could be dismissed with a Traffic Specialist?
6. IF the Police Office didn't show up in court would the charge be dismissed?
THANKS for looking and I'd (my 20 year old daughter) would be greatly appreciative if you could provide ANY HELP at all!!!
You don't need to hire anybody yet. You can plead not guity, request a trial with officer present and then (once you get the notice of trial) request disclosure (officers notes, witness statements, will-say statements).
Now there is a good chance, in this situation, that the prosecutor may consider a plea to a lesser charge. So once you get the notice of trial, you could contact the prosecutor and try to arrange an early resolution meeting.
The downside to accepting a plea deal, is that she is still going to be pleading gulty to a lesser charge which may still affect insurance.
A conviction of careless driving though is the same as getting a DUI on your insurance, so unless you have experience in court, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer/paralegal if you do not get a plea deal and must go to trial. A lawyer or paralegal may also advise NOT taking a plea deal and fighting the charge as prosecution may not have much of a case.
THANK YOU JSHERK! I will get my daughter to do the first part by tomorrow. We also have 3 different paralegals set up to speak to this afternoon. Feel really bad for the poor kid as it truly was an accident due to totally unmaintained roads and bad blizzard like weather conditions that day. She even has winter tires since we live out of town. Live and learn I'm afraid is what she will experience. Next time I think she will call in sick. Worst thing is the country roads going into London are always better taken care of in the winter then in London where the property taxes are more.
I feel for you. I remember that intersection well from my Western days (over 30 years ago). In those days, London didn't salt and barely plowed. After a bad storm, it was not at all uncommon to see 10 cm or more of snow on Richmond Street! It was sanded for traction, but that was it.
Another comment... You have 3 paralegals lined up to speak with, so that is good. Do NOT go with the first one you talk to until you have spoken with all of them.
Unfortunately some paralegals have no intention of ever going to trial, and think that simply trying to get you a plea deal offer is a win, even though you could have done it yourself for nothing.
Make sure to ask their opinions on beating the careless charge at trial...
The correct answer should include their thoughts based on your version of events, but then they should qualify it by saying that they can not really know how to defend it until they see the officers notes.
WELLL.....this is getting interesting! I've got mostly the same answers for 2 of the 3 Paralegals so far.
Questions I have:
1. Has anyone had success with this type of ticket? - About 90% have it reduced to 0-3 points. Other 10% have to take it to trial.
2. How did you fight it? Each Firm said to put OPTION 2 for a resolution. Reason is in London, Ont the court changed the OPTIONS. They want you to try and resolve prior to going to trial. IF you don't like the resolution then you still have OPTION 3 of NOT GUILTY.
3. Would it be better to go and try to get it reduced in the courthouse? Haven't gotten a clear answer yet as the Firms want our business. Not sure how we can FIGHT this ourselves using OPTION 2 WITHOUT using a lawyer. How to talk to the prosecution???
4. If the courthouse reduced it what would it be reduced to? Looks like it would mostly likely be Leaving Roadway which is 2 Demerit Points...although both firms advised they will try for 1 Demerit Point first. They both wouldn't advise HOW they would get that 1 Demerit point instead if 3. Guaranteed there would be a ticket of probably $110.00.
5. What are the chances that this could be dismissed with a Traffic Specialist? Not likely according to 2 Firms. They hope so but they are saying that based on previous cases that in London it usually isn't. They also said that they could not comment further as they need the Full Disclosure Report.
6. IF the Police Office didn't show up in court would the charge be dismissed? NOT Likely! uughhh
IF ANYONE has some more input that would be GREATLY appreciated!!! Especially on using OPTION 2 and trying to talk to the Prosecution ourselves. This could potentially help my daughter save $500 in Paralegal Fees.
If you are willing to settle for a minor traffic conviction then absolutely you can speak to the prosecutor yourself. I would be very surprised if you weren't offered something like Fail to Drive in Marked Lane. I wouldn't worry about the points - they only count if you get a lot of them. The issue with most tickets is the financial aspect firstly of the fine itself and, more critically, your insurance hike. A careless conviction will cost a LOT so I wouldn't even consider a not guilty plea and trial unless you have some very solid reason to believe you are going to win.
It of course depends on the judge but what you described does fit careless. Single vehicle driving too fast for the (awful) conditions. The question is, if she was driving at 1 km/hr would she have left the road. The answer is undoubtedly no and so by extension she was driving too fast for the conditions and that fits careless.
So definitely look at the options but I would jump at a $110 2/3 point ticket unless you can find something pretty catastrophic in the crown's position.
THANKS argyll! Yes we are either hoping the NEWBIE Police Officer who has only been on road parole for about 6 months (according to the Firm) has messed up something....or we will have to HOPEFULLY plead to a lesser ticket. One thing the Firm asked if the police officer asked my daughter if she would give a statement so to caution her. The police officer didn't....but....it would be her word against my daughters. The police officer also didn't get my daughter to sign the notes. The police officer also wrote 50km on the ticket which my daughter quoted just over 30km. It was a curb and she went about 8 feet off the road when she hit the km sign. Looks like we are going to hire the one Firm tomorrow. They were the only ones who took almost an hour to fully explain exactly what they would do.
Another other suggestions for heads-up items to keep in mind would still be GREATLY APPRECIATED!
I also just wanted to say THANK YOU to EVERYONE for their input!!! I REALLY appreciate all your insight and help in this situation!!!
If you are willing to plead to a lesser offence then why hire a paralegal. They won't get any better deal that you can get yourself and will then congratulate themselves on a 'win'.
There are certain bits of information a driver must provide after a collision with no caution required. I never had someone sign my notes during an investigation. They are my notes. If it was a verbatim statement then a signature would be normal.
To be honest there isn't too much that can be messed up with a ticket following a collision. I personally would only hire a paralegal if I wanted to go to trial and beat the charge but you haven't provided anything to suggest that would be a good option.
Aarygll well the reason we are going to hire the Paralegal is because we don't know what to say to the prosecution for a resolution. We're afraid we'll mess up that meeting and miss the opportunity to lower the ticket from careless dubbing to something substantially lower.
Although I agree with Argyl about not needing to hire paralegal for initial early resolution meeting, in the end the cost of a paralegal is definitely far less than having a careless conviction on her record and may give you some peace of mind as you are not familar with the court process.
So now you guys are making me think. The one thing the Paralegal said is they definitely DON'T want my daughter there for the resolution as the Prosecution can question her and that could potentially mess up a lower plead. Is the Paralegal messing with us? The problem is .... again .... we don't have the experience or knowledge to know what to say to the Prosecutor to ask for a plead to a reduced (less points) charge of Careless Driving. Our main objective is to get those 6 Demerit Points reduced significantly (or all together) so her insurance won't go up as per that charge.
I'll let you know what happened in court when I went in Toronto:
Prosecutor called everyone scheduled for that time slot to come into the court room to check in, so we all lined up to speak to the prosecutor who was at the front of the room. Basically he asked whether we were pleading guilty, not guilty, you can mention you want to see about pleading guilty to a lesser charge and see what/if he offers anything. If you're not happy with the offer, you can try saying "I was wondering if ______ charge might be more appropriate in this case" and see whether he is agreeable to it. In my case, there was a collision where I was making a left turn but I couldn't prove that the other driver was speeding, or run the red light (no witnesses came to offer to help). I was offered a "fail to stop for amber light", but I asked if "turn not in safety/improper left turn" might be more appropriate. He seemed to not know much about the case beforehand, he was like "oh, was it a left turn?", so I don't know how prepared they are for trial....., anyway, it never hurts to ask
If you are still not happy with the offer, you can go to trial.
Usually request disclosure as soon as you get the notice of hearing for the trial if you go for Option 3. Then you can follow up after around 2-3 weeks before trial date if you haven't heard back yet. If on the day of the trial you haven't received disclosure, and you are not happy with the deal they offer, you or the prosecutor will probably get an adjournment, and then you can consult legal help for representation in the trial.
No your daughter does not need to be there and probably should not be, so paralegal is correct in that.
And again the cost of a paralegal may be worth it to you as opposed to the cost of time to learn what you need to learn.
Remember though that a 0 demerit point charge can still cause insurance rates to increase. Most likely a 0 demerit point charge would only lead to a small increase as compared to careless charge though so definitely better option.
argyll wrote:If you are willing to plead to a lesser offence then why hire a paralegal. They won't get any better deal that you can get yourself and will then congratulate themselves on a 'win'.
I'd disagree on this point. It's fairly common to get a Defendant calling my office who has gone through an early resolution meeting with a municipal prosecutor or gotten a few hearings into a part 3 matter and wants to know if an offer is a 'good' one or not. Sometimes it is a reasonable offer to resolve, other times it isn't. While I think we'd all like hope that a Prosecutor would fairly treat a self-represented defendant, they don't really have a lot of negotiating power or leverage. They likely have little to no clue about the specific legal merits of the case, much of their defence will be scattered or irrelevant, and they are likely to provide an ineffective defence at trial. A licenced paralegal that deals with that court will also be familiar with the jurisdiction and Prosecutor in what flies and what doesn't.
Where a Defendant has multiple part 3 matters there is almost certainly going to be a significant difference.
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