What's the Charge?

This section will guide you through the legislation covering parking tickets. Take your time to read this section.

The Provincial Offences Act defines "parking infraction" as any unlawful parking, standing or stopping of a vehicle. The Highway Traffic Act defines the three as follows:

  • "stand" or "standing", when prohibited, means the halting of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except for the purpose of and while actually engaged in receiving or discharging passengers;
  • "stop" or "stopping", when prohibited, means the halting of a vehicle, even momentarily, whether occupied or not, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or of a traffic control sign or signal;
  • "park" or "parking", when prohibited, means the standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except when standing temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading merchandise or passengers.

What actually constitutes the offence depends on where you do it. Municipalities have different applications of parking, standing and stopping and exemptions to them.

For example, you can (un)load merchandise or passengers in a no parking zone but some municipalities place a 5 to 20 minute limit on this activity. The City of Ottawa allows an exemption to no standing, no stopping and no parking zones for funeral processions. If you have a Accessible Parking Permit (formerly known as a disabled permit or a wheelchair pass) you may also be allowed exemptions for some or all parking violations depending on which city you are in. Finally many major Ontario cities have separate rush hour by-laws that supersede parking, standing and stopping provisions.

If it is a municipal by-law, make sure it actually covers where you were parked. For example, the City of Toronto has dispensing machines instead of parking meters. You purchase a receipt which you display in your windshield that you paid for street parking.

If you get a parking ticket, there are several by-laws that cover what you did. First is the by-law for failing to display a valid receipt. Next is the by-law establishing paid parking on that street. Finally, there may be a by-law regarding the dates and times parking is allowed or a rush hour by-law that could also apply.

The Highway Traffic Act, Regulation 604 also lists locations where you cannot park. Your charge may be against this regulation, not a municipal by-law.

The point is just because you got a parking ticket, doesn't mean you should have. If there is a sign, it doesn't mean it is accurate or valid. Always check your parking ticket to figure out what they claim you did wrong. Then check the by-law or legislation to make sure it's really true.

Several years ago, a Toronto lawyer, John Winegust, was featured in the news for getting "free" parking in Toronto simply by exploiting loopholes in the by-laws. The by-laws coverd metered parking but not the spaces in front of or behind the meters where he would park. Since there was no by-law restriction, he got to park for free. Even though there were signs prohibiting parking, the parking ticket was against the (non existent) by-law, not the sign.

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