Bill 52 would move traffic disputes out of B.C. courts

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      B.C. drivers may soon be denied their day in court to challenge traffic tickets.

      Vancouver lawyer Sarah Leamon expects constitutional questions to arise with the likely passage of legislation that removes courts from disputes involving driving violations.

      “The right to counsel and the right to a fair trial are most certainly going to be compromised, in my opinion,” Leamon told the Straight in a phone interview.

      Bill 52, called the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act (No. 2), 2012, establishes an administrative process to deal with traffic infractions. This replaces the current court-based procedure.

      “You’re not going to be able to cross-examine police officers anymore,” Leamon explained.

      Shirley Bond, B.C. Liberal minister of justice and attorney general, introduced the legislation. It’s intended to unclog court dockets: about 70,000 traffic tickets are contested in B.C. courts each year. The justice ministry didn’t respond to a Straight request to interview Bond.

      When the bill passed second reading on May 8, Leonard Krog, the Opposition critic for the attorney general, suggested moving consideration to the fall session. But the measure may go through a third and final reading by the time the legislature takes a break starting May 31.

      According to Micheal Vonn, policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the administrative procedure outlined in Bill 52 falls below the standards of due process.

      “It’s just a very bizarre process,” she told the Straight in a phone interview. Under the legislation, traffic tickets can be contested by phone or in writing with the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. If drivers aren’t satisfied with the results, they can ask for a ruling from a review board, whose decisions cannot be questioned before any court.

      Under the current system, drivers can go to court if they don’t agree with a police officer’s claim that they violated motor-vehicle law.

      Under the new legislation, drivers may end up paying more in either basic or premium insurance fees, according to Victoria lawyer Erik Magraken. “ICBC gets the right under this legislation to set up a point penalty system, which will let them increase your insurance based on the conviction of these infractions,” he told the Straight by phone. “Not only are you paying a fine for being guilty of these moving violations, but then your insurance is directly affected.”




      May 17, 2012 at 3:33pm

      Another tax grab, the HST, smart meters and now you don't get your day in court. Sounds one sided to me like a dictator maybe.


      May 17, 2012 at 9:29pm

      Pure contempt for the rights of the everyperson.


      May 18, 2012 at 2:12pm

      Sounds like people need to pull their heads out of their rear ends and figure out that "driving", "traffic" & "vehicles" are purely commercial terms & that they have been had as FOOLS by their own legislature. If you are just getting around, then these terms don't apply to you.


      May 18, 2012 at 8:52pm

      This legislation will be challenged as being unconstitutional. Due process is a fundamental right. We all have a right to face our accuser in court. Otherwise, the cops can wrie tickets from anywhere, anytime, no duty, off duty, from their balcony, their front yard,.. anywhere.


      May 30, 2012 at 8:51am

      Canadians have become complacent, apathetic and ignorant of the great sacrifices and efforts made to provide freedoms and rights within a democracy that are slowly and now suddenly being stripped away in a deceptive and dishonest manner.


      Dec 14, 2012 at 3:08pm

      After the CND Charter was proclaimed Barbara Amiel wrote:

      'A place which feels compelled to legislate liberty and justice is an unlikely place in which to find liberty and justices.' (~_~)


      May 22, 2013 at 9:27am

      Time to wake up BC !!! how many more rights are you willing to loose before as a people we stand up to this crap.
      ICBC have been and continue to be one of the biggest cash grab monsters of our society. I will bet 10-1 that ICBC's sticky fingers will be dripping with contentment if this passes. Or should I say when this passes. Same old BC guilty before proven innocent and now we won't even be able to challenge our accusers.

      George Mateescu

      May 29, 2013 at 2:39pm

      Public ignorance will be very costly for all of us...