The Language of Traffic Law

Here are the most important terms and phrases used in traffic law:
  • Defendant: The person charged with an offense - also referred to as "the accused".
  • Prosecutor: The lawyer who represents the police in court and tries to convict defendants.
  • Charged: The term used when you have been given a traffic ticket but have not yet paid it, been to court or been found guilty by a traffic court judge.
  • Traffic Ticket: also referred to as an offence, a violation, a charge
  • Demerit Points: These range from 2 to 7 points, depending on the offence – they do not affect insurnce premiums - accumulate 15 or more (8 or more for GDL) in 2 years and your licence is suspended.
  • Conviction/Convicted: This means you have been found guilty of an offence, the traffic ticket shows on your driving record (usually with demerit points). This includes just paying a traffic ticket when you get one.
  • Conviction in Absence: The defendant took no action on the traffic ticket before the court date passed.
  • Trial: The formal process where the police witnesses and the accused take turns telling a traffic court judge their version of the incident, then the judge decides guilty or not guilty.
  • Plea Bargain: negotiating a reduction of the charge with the prosecutor in exchange for a guilty plea (this is what happens most of the time)
  • Guilty Plea: When a traffic ticket is paid by the defendant before the first court date (court date on the ticket) - when a court appearance is made and an agreement is made with the prosecutor to reduce the charge; when the accused tells the traffic court judge he/she pleads guilty to the fine on the face of the traffic ticket, or is assessed a fine by the judge when the traffic ticket shows no fine (pink ticket, mandatory court appearance).

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