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b. You have nothing to lose. Many years ago there was a financial incentive to pay the fine because it was lower than if you went to court and were found guilty. It was called the Voluntary Payment Option and it offered a 25%-30% discount if you paid your traffic ticket within seven days. It no longer exists. [1]

Look at your traffic ticket carefully. There is no discount. The "total payable" on your traffic ticket includes court costs, the victim surcharge and the set fine (the amount you pay for the offence you committed). In most cases, if you go to court and lose, the amount you pay will likely be the exact same as what's on your traffic traffic ticket. There are some situations where you could pay more, but there are also some situations where you could pay less.[2]

In fact if you pay your fine voluntarily, you might be paying when you don't need to. If your traffic ticket was quashed you will never know it. For example, when a police officer is using a radar gun, he will test it at the beginning of his shift and at the end of his shift. If the second test fails, all the traffic tickets he wrote that day are invalid. But do you think he is going to call you at home to tell you that? Of course not. A police officer has seven days to file all the traffic tickets he wrote.[3] If you pay your fine before that, no one will stop you. You could end up paying a fine when you're innocent and you will never know it. That's why they call it a voluntary payment. It will be considered a donation. If you think requesting a trial is a lot of work, try getting a refund from city hall!

But what if you don't want to bother going to court? Even if you have no intention of appearing in court you should still request a trial. If you don't show up for your trial, they will convict you in your absence. You will then get a notice in the mail demanding you pay the fine. It will be the same amount as what's on your traffic ticket now. The justice could tack on an additional $10 court cost because you did not show up. Even if she does, look at it this way. For an additional $10 you have deferred payment of the fine from 15 days to several months or more. If you are in Toronto, that will give you almost two years to pay. And if there is an insurance rate increase because of your conviction, you have also deferred that. Which brings us to...

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1. The discount applied to parking tickets. The City of Toronto eliminated this in 2004. We are not aware of a single jurisdiction that offers a discount to pay the fine up front. The City of Welland threatens to tack on court costs ($12.75 in 2013) for a parking ticket if found guilty in court but remember, they can only do this if you do not show up. If you fight the traffic ticket, it will not cost you any more money in most cases.

2. Set fines are established for most provincial offences under the Provincial Offences Act (POA). There are some offences that carry no set fine. Instead they have a minimum and maximum range. For those offences the judge may impose any amount within that range or a lower fine if there is no explicit minimum. (see Section 59, POA.). Also see Step 5, Sentencing for a discussion on minimizing your fine. For an explanation of how fines are calculated, visit the section Fines on the left navigation bar.

3. A certificate of offence shall be filed in the office of the court as soon as is practicable, but no later than seven days after service of the offence notice or summons (Section 4, POA). The officer may also do it backwards. He can file the certificate in court first and then personally serve you with the ticket. However in this case he must personally serve you within 30 days (Section 3(3) POA).