B.C.'s proposed new approach to driving-related tickets will be key to B.C.'s justice reform strategy, freeing up court resources for higher priorities while enhancing road safety.
Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act have the potential to deal with traffic offences that currently may be disputed in court, such as speeding, texting while driving, and disobeying a traffic signal.
Moving these disputes to an administrative process will free up about 10 judicial justices for other work and 33 court services registry administration staff to address other priority registry court work. The change could relieve 34 to 68 enforcement officers from attending traffic court. All of these positions have a combined value of $8 to $11 million per year. Traffic matters that do remain in the court system will be heard more quickly, reducing backlogs.
Other benefits of the new legislation, if passed, will include:
- Strengthened road safety. The changes will reduce the time taken to resolve disputed tickets to an estimated 90 days from the current seven to 18 months.
- Savings for taxpayers. Fewer disputed tickets will be cancelled due to errors or delays, and electronic ticketing will reduce administration costs.
- Streamlined dispute resolution. Most driving notice disputes will be resolved by phone.
- Discounted penalties for prompt payment. New online payment options will let a driver who pays an undisputed ticket within 30 days receive a discount.
The new law will also streamline the ticketing process by replacing written citations with electronic ones generated at the roadside by new devices mounted in police vehicles. If passed, the traffic safety initiative is expected to take until 2014 to be fully implemented.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General -
"These are the kind of efficiencies we're making as part of our ongoing justice review, which is working to build a more efficient, responsive justice system. This new ticket dispute process goes well beyond freeing up court resources - it will save taxpayers money and provide a fair, timely approach to disputing tickets. We expect this change to strengthen the deterrent value of traffic enforcement - and, in turn, public safety on B.C. roads."
- The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles has authority over licensing and driving behaviour.
- The new administrative justice model will apply to B.C. drivers who engage in unsafe driving behaviour.
- Infractions that fall outside the scope of the superintendent's authority will not shift to the new administrative process. For example, serious criminal charges, such as dangerous or impaired driving causing death, will continue to proceed through the courts.
- About 500,000 traffic tickets are issued each year in B.C. Of these, roughly 14 per cent are disputed through traffic court. This volume of disputes has contributed to significant delays in the courts.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice