Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Things that will not invalidate a traffic ticket

A violator’s signature is not required to make the ticket valid.

By Tim Schewe

“I refused to sign the ticket that I got for speeding last week. Does that mean this ticket is invalid and I don’t have to pay it?”

Questions like this one are common from readers who were not happy following their roadside encounter with traffic enforcement. However, a violator’s signature is not required to make the ticket valid.

Some errors and omissions on traffic tickets can be fatal to the charge, but you may be surprised at how much information on a ticket can be left out, or even be incorrect and the ticket will still stand. In addition, some errors can be corrected in traffic court before or during the trial as well.

Refusing to sign a ticket is your prerogative. Personally, I would want a mark on a legal document about me that I could recognize later and a signature is one way of accomplishing this. If you choose not to sign, the officer completes a certificate of service on the back of the original copy and this has the same effect as your signature.

Electronic tickets are now being issued for Motor Vehicle Act offences in some areas of B.C. instead of the old school hand written tickets. This new ticket form does not require a signature from either the officer or the driver to be valid. In fact, there is no place to sign them.

Just above the officer’s signature on the ticket you will find the words “shaded areas of this ticket are not part of the offence charged.” The gray shaded areas of the ticket include your birth date, address, driver’s and vehicle licence number and vehicle description. If these spaces are left blank or there are errors in the information they contain, it is not grounds to dismiss the charge for that reason alone.

The Offence Act allows amendments to be made to a traffic ticket prior to trial. An officer can also give evidence about the incident and then ask the Justice to amend the ticket to conform to the evidence that was given. In either case, this is at the discretion of the Justice.

The surest way to amend a ticket is simply to complete a new one and serve it to you with the advice that the old one will not be proceeded with. An officer has one year from the date of the alleged offence to do this.

So, before you get your hopes up and dispute hoping to win on a technicality, you may wish to consider proper legal advice to ensure your success. The British Columbia chapter of Canadian Bar Association operates a lawyer referral service at 1-800-663-1919 that will refer you to a local lawyer with expertise in the required situation. A half hour consultation is free of charge.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Earth Day, Cowichan Valley residents are being asked to clean up where they are. (File photo)
Cowichan ‘Clean Where You Are’ campaign starts on Earth Day

Take a bag, one glove, long tongs, and go pick up!

City of Duncan considering an average 3.51 per cent tax increase for 2021. (File photo)
Duncan considers average 3.51% tax increase for 2021

Homeowners would see a $43 increase over last year

North Cowichan councillor Kate Marsh. (File photo)
North Cowichan postpones decision on cell tower placement

But cell tower policy may be developed soon

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read