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I agree with you.  It is hard to justify.

The true costs of going through the trouble of fighting a traffic ticket on your own are, however, hidden.

Time

Time is the biggest factor in assessing which way to go in dealing with your traffic ticket.  A lot of that will be waiting in lines, waiting for your number for when they call it to file your paperwork, waiting to speak to the prosecutor, or waiting to speak to the Justice of the Peace.  Figure upon waiting up to 2 hours on average for each of these.  Your waiting time also happens during regular business hours.  How much time off work, calculated in your hourly rate, can you afford to lose?

Depending on the complexity of your case, you will not just have to go once and be done with your ticket.  Outside of paying for your fine, you will need to visit the Provincial Offences court offices twice, at minimum, during business hours.

If you pay for me to do the waiting for you, I have to justify my time away from my office.  If I’m waiting on your behalf, I’m not in my office to help someone else.  Add to that car maintenance, or even fuel.  That comes out of my pocket.

[Update, December 4, 2011:  See this column from the Toronto Star’s Wheels section and find out how much time this Defendant lost.]

Money

I’m not talking about immediate out-of-pocket expenses, like paying for parking near some of the courthouses across the GTA .  I’m talking about expenses down the road, such as insurance rates.  Insurance rates go up based upon your convictions; it doesn’t matter if you accumulate Demerit Points or not.  The first one or two tickets, you might not see a significant increase, but three or more, you definitely do see that increase.  (To find out how much, contact your insurance provider.)  Essentially, your fine plus the increase in your insurance rates (carried over 12 months), you might see that retaining my legal services soon becomes a zero-sum possibility.

Expertise

This is where value for time and money come together.  As a Licensed Paralegal with the Law Society of Upper Canada, you can be assured, amongst other things:

  • That I meet the standards and criteria expected of a Paralegal, including
    • education in an accredited Paralegal program at an Ontario College;
    • required Errors & Omissions insurance to protect clients;
  • That a regulator (the Law Society) looks after the public interest when dealing with Paralegals;
  • That I have the  experience that can only be acquired from conducting trials and plea-bargains day-to-day in the Provincial Offences courts;
  • That I have the knowledge of what the rules and procedures are in a Provincial Offences Court;
  • That I know what is required for any given traffic ticket offence and whether or not the Crown has the evidence it needs to prosecute that ticket
  • That I know that, given the evidence against you, what are the lesser and included offences in any given traffic ticket offence and give you the best options, including
    • a lesser fine;
    • lesser points;
    • no points;
    • in exceptional cases, a fine less than the minimum fine or even a suspended sentence;
    • or a combination of the above;
  • That I know what Charter of Rights and Freedoms defences can be made to protect your rights, including your right to a speedy trial.  (Depending on your circumstances, the usual limit is around 8 months to resolve a traffic ticket.  Contact me for more details.)

Partnered with expertise is peace-of-mind.  Unless you intend to give evidence in your own defence, having a Licensed Paralegal as your representative frees you from having to appear in court at all.  In fact, all phases of your traffic ticket would be off of your plate.  How much is that worth to you?

Here is one more assurance for you.  If you retain me for your legal services, I will be the only one handling your case, unless I’m sick or have some sort of emergency.  Sometimes, Paralegals contract out their court appearances for a variety of reasons.  There is nothing wrong with this practice, but wouldn’t you rather hire the Paralegal that is actually going to court for you for your matter?

Conclusion

As you can see, you do have to scratch the surface a bit to understand why things cost the way they do.  Ultimately, the decision is yours, but it doesn’t hurt to contact me to help you make an informed one.