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Research the Law You Broke

You are charged with breaking a specific law. In the British system, laws are acts of parliament which means you are looking for an "act". Your ticket will have a section that says "contrary to" and in it will be a notation which is the act you are charged with breaking. You can find this act by going to the Ontario Government website or to the Ontario section of

Read the section that covers the offence you are charged with. You are looking for the essential elements of that offence which the prosecutor must prove to convict you.

Example: Blocking an Intersection

If you are charged with blocking an intersection your ticket will have a section that says "contrary to" and in it will be a notation "HTA 145". That means your charge is against section 145 of the Highway Traffic Act.

This section states the municipality has to enact a by-law prohibiting people from entering an intersection unless it is clear. But the Act also states that if traffic is moving in a manner that would reasonably lead you to believe that you can clear the intersection before the light turns red, you should not get a ticket.

All you have to show in court is that you did what any reasonable person did which is enter an intersection when the light was green (or even yellow) and you had a reasonable expectation that you would clear it before the light turned red. Whether you cleared it or not does not matter. What matters is that you had a reasonable expectation that you could. You simply point to this section of the Act, say the blurb above and the judge must find you not guilty. Simple and easy!

Example: Community Safety Zone

Another example. If you are charged with speeding in a community safety zone your ticket will have a section that says "contrary to" and in it will be a notation "HTA 128". That means your charge is against section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act but the fine is doubled in this special zone.

You then look at the section of the act for information about your charge. Section 128 lists the general speed limits in Ontario and section 128(2) allows municipalities to vary that speed for roads within their jurisdiction including different times of day.

There are two important points to note. First is the speed limit may have been changed by your city. That means there must be a by-law creating that change. The second point is that there is no mention of community safety zones.

Pressing CTRL+F in your internet browser will show the search function. You can type "community safety zone" which will bring you to section 214.1 which covers community safety zones.

Reading the community safety zone section, we find that this special zone is created by a municipality by enacting a by-law, identifying a specific physical location, the hours, days and months when the zone is in effect and that they must erect proper signs.

Were you driving in this area when the by-law was in effect? You don't know this unless you examine the by-law. In court, the prosecutor will simply have the police officer testify that you were speeding and that there were community safety zone signs.

But you're not charged just with speeding. You are charged with speeding in a community safety zone. This means the prosecutor has to prove not only that you were speeding but that it was a community safety zone on that specific day, month and time. To do the latter, he must present a certified copy of that by-law in court to show when the by-law was in effect.

When you request disclosure he has to give you a copy of any evidence he will submit in court to convict you. Normally he wouldn't have to disclose the by-law to you but in this case he must establish that there was a community safety zone in effect.

Most likely, he won't expect you to know this and won't bother disclosing it. He also won't bother presenting the by-law in court.

That gives you two options, first a motion of improper disclosure or second you can make a motion of "non-suit" to the justice that the prosecutor hasn't proven his case. (All of this will be discussed in greater detail under Steps 4 and 5.) Either way, the case against you starts to unravel.

Please note that this will not be enough to beat the charge of speeding. Generally, they do not have to prove that a by-law exists. There is a presumption of regularity: if there is a sign, it would not have been erected unless the by-law was created. Please see R. v. Druce, 2006 as an example.

So the existence of a speed limit sign allows the court to assume that there is a by-law for that speed on that street.

With the charge of speeding in a community safety zone, the by-law is required to show the time and days that the zone was in effect otherwise they have not proven it was a community safety zone when you drove through.

The difference is that the community safety zone could be limited by the time, day or month (i.e. during the school year and during school hours) while the speed limit sign is likely in effect 24hrs/day.

Without the community safety zone by-law, you could still be convicted of speeding without facing the larger community safety zone fines.

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