You know that sickening feeling when those red and blue lights start flashing behind you. You pull over to the side of the road and a few minutes later you’ve been handed a traffic ticket.
What Do You Do Next?
When you’ve gotten a traffic ticket in Ontario you have a couple of options. And it can pay to carefully consider the various options before you proceed. The two basic options are:
- Plead guilty and pay the fine.
- Plead not guilty and have a trial.
However, things are not as cut and dried as that. You actually have the option to negotiate a settlement as well. Even if you want to plead guilty, you can often negotiate the amount of the fine or the amount of time you have to pay.
The trouble is that most people don’t know how to go about it. On top of that, interacting with the court system can be very intimidating.
Many people will simply take the easy option. They plead guilty and mail their plea in to the court with a payment of the fine.
But that isn’t always the wisest course of action. Pleading guilty can affect your driver’s license as well as insurance rates. If you drive a commercial motor vehicle it can affect much more than that.
Enter the Licensed Paralegal
What you need is a professional who can advise and guide you through the process.
A lawyer or paralegal can review your case and offer you guidance on what course you should take. They will know the hidden costs and how they might affect you down the road. They will have an idea of what kind of deals might be possible. Or they may recommend that you fight the charge.
While a lawyer can do this for you, they tend to be rather expensive. This is where a paralegal can come to your rescue.
- They generally charge less than a lawyer.
- They also specialize in specific matters (like traffic tickets).
- Many paralegals are former police or Ministry of Transportation officers.
They will be able to act as your agent in court to negotiate on your behalf. They can run a trial if needed. In most cases, you won’t need to be there.
In Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada is responsible for the licensing of paralegals. It is important that the person you hire is actually licensed to operate in the province.
You can ask any paralegal that you are looking to hire for their license number and check their status at the Law Society web site.
Why Don’t I Do It Myself?
That’s a great question. You could do everything yourself. Just like you can do your own plumbing, or dental work.
But the court procedures require a bit of specialized knowledge and it is easier to hire a professional who knows how to take care of things. While you can learn to do it yourself, there are many benefits to hiring a paralegal for the job.
- A good paralegal will know what to do and who to talk to.
- They have an existing relationship with the prosecutors, officers and even the Justices of the Peace.
- They have a good knowledge of the statutes and regulations that you’re facing.
- This knowledge allows them to negotiate with some leverage, or run a trial knowing which questions to ask (and when not to ask).
- And on top of that, you won’t need to spend the time that it takes to deal with a traffic ticket. In fact, in most cases you won’t even need to be at the trial (if there is one).
Hiring a paralegal will cost you some money. But it can save you time, money and hassles in the long run. Let the paralegal do their job so you can focus on yours.