No Traffic Trials – Who Saw That Coming?

There has been a lot of attention lately on traffic ticket trials – or, rather, the disappearance of them[1]: This is not actually new. The NDP brought in the legislation that allowed this to happen. The Conservatives implemented it in three phases.

Impaired driving cases were the first to go. The government began by both charging and giving an administrative sanction (also known as a Notice of Administrative Penalty, also known as an Immediate Roadside Sanction and referred to as an NAP or IRS for short) to those stopped for impaired driving-related offences. Then, in December 2020, moved to just administrative sanctions.

The idea is that the government can get all the revenue from fines without having the expense of trials and police officers give out tickets for impaired driving without all the fuss of giving the person any of their Charter rights or taking the person to the station to blow on a machine that will give accurate readings.

The next phase is the one commented on in the article footnoted below – traffic tickets. The guess (and it seems to be accurate) is that while the general public does not care too much about whether someone stopped for impaired driving gets a trial, the public will care about traffic ticket trials for speeding, fail to stops etc. That is because those happen so frequently to people who, at least for the most part, try to be law-abiding citizens.

However, the impaired driving program was the thin edge of the wedge. Have you asked yourself yet – what is phase three? Well, it is the scariest of them all: “Phase 3: expand the administrative adjudication process such that it could be adopted and adapted for use by any regulated area of provincial jurisdiction. The timeline for Phase 3 diversion will be determined upon the conclusion of Phase 2.”[2]

Once we allow erosion of our rights in one area, it is very easy to allow that erosion to spread to other areas. We have already seen the effects of the SafeRoads Alberta system in impaired driving cases but now we will see it on a wider scale. How many people will really pay $50 for the chance to fight a $150 ticket? Most will just shrug their shoulders and pay.

Unfortunately, the time to prevent this altogether has passed – the wheels were set in motion in 2017 and there is no turning back. We, at Gunn Law Group, are challenging various parts of the legislation and continue fighting for our clients through IRS hearings and judicial reviews. Hopefully, with each new case won, we will make the current system a little better.

[1] https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-the-dangers-are-many-if-albertas-open-courts-are-eroded?

[2] https://www.alberta.ca/making-alberta-roads-safer.aspx

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