This morning I was ticketed in Toronto for 144(18) Red Light - Proceed Before Green while on my bike. I was stopped at a red light, and started to roll through after the cross street light turned red, before my light went green. Seems like being overly picky on a harmless thing, especially when actually dangerous driving happens all the time in the city, but I digress. I broke the letter of the law and I'll own up to that. The officer was clearly waiting to catch people doing this, at a T intersection on a busy bike route, and claims to have the incident on camera, but either way that's not really in doubt.
I was given a ticket with the $325 set fine ($260+fees). The officer advised me that even though my license number was on the ticket, this offence had no demerit points, and showed me that the "vehicle" field had the N/N box ticked, and a "C" printed.
I have two questions:
1. I clearly have no way of getting off on this, so no use fighting it in court. Is it worth filing for an Early Resolution meeting? What amount might I be able to get the fine reduced to?
2. With regards to insurance impacts, I have heard different things with regards to if this will impact my car insurance in any way. Does anyone have experience with this issue.
Long answer: The Highway Traffic Act defines a bicycle as a vehicle. There exists a separate definition, motor vehicle, which covers your standard car. Motor vehicles are subject to demerit points while vehicles are not.
Court convictions are sent to the MTO to be processed. This is where the infraction will be applied to your driving record along with the necessary demerit points. Bicycle convictions are never supposed to get this far.
The officer writing the ticket could become an issue. There's more than a few who aren't aware of the difference. If the ticket isn't properly filled out to indicate a bicycle was used, no one is ever going to know that it wasn't a motor vehicle. It will get processed like every other ticket. This is why you end up with people getting letters that they've received points and get an insurance increase down the road.
[TL;DR: I went to early resolution, was offered a lesser charge with a much lower fine without any real discussion, and ended up getting fully off since the ticket hadn't been registered]
I filed for an early resolution meeting, figured since (1) I knew I was guilty and (2) there were no demerit points on the line, I may as well see what they would offer me.
I was told to report to the Centre Avenue courthouse in Toronto, appointment was for 8:45, the courthouse doors opened at 8:30. All the assembled people with the same time slot (maybe two dozen?) waited in the foyer waiting area, there was no procedure to sign in or register. The prosecutor arrived at 8:50, and asked everyone to just line up. If you're in a hurry I recommend sitting near to the door of the cubby/office listed on your appointment (e.g. SER1) to get near the front. Each meeting took a few minutes tops.
On my turn, I entered, said good morning and gave my info. The prosecutor looked up my file, said I was charged with running a red. I said yes, I proceeded before green on a bicycle, I know I shouldn't have, and was sorry. He gave me a little speech about how rules are rules, and what I did was wrong and dangerous. I was prepared to argue that last part, I had prepared some diagrams and had google earth printouts, but didn't get a chance. He asked me if I was looking to take a deal, and I said maybe, it depends. Without any further discussion, or even the chance for me to present any arguments, he offered me a lesser charge 144(5) Improper Stop, with a $100 dollar fine (down from $325). I asked him if this would show up on my drivers abstract for insurance, he said he couldn't be sure but that this would mean no points. I hemmed and hawed, he said it was the best that he could offer, so I accepted. He wrote it down on my printout of the early resolution meeting notice, and told me to go down the hall to Courtroom C2.
In contrast to the long line for the prosecutor, there was no wait at all at C2. The previous case was just wrapping up as I came in. I dropped my paper in the marked filing tray, and sat. Almost right away I was called to come up. A different prosecutor was dealing with this part of the process, he read out, from the notes that his buddy had made, that we were making a joint submission to an altered charge. The Justice asked me if I was pleading guilty and I said yes. Before she could say anything else the clerk (I think it was the clerk, sitting between where the prosecutor was standing and the Justice's bench) stood up and said that there was an error on the ticket, as it had not been registered. The justice then said she could not accept my plea, and that I was free to go. I said thank-you your worship and booked it out of there.
Personally I think $325 is a crazy fine for this. Should you do it ? No. But $325 ???? That would make me not write the ticket whereas if it was $50 then I'd be more likely to.
Glad you had a clerk that was on the ball.
Former Ontario Police Officer. Advice will become less relevant as the time goes by !