Increase in Fines for Parking Tickets
Last week the City of Toronto increased fines for illegally parking during the morning and evening commute. If you receive a ticket for parking between the hours of 6am – 10am or 3pm – 7pm in a rush hour route, you will now receive a $150 fine. The previous fine for illegally parking in these routes during rush hour times was approximately $40 – $60.
At first glance a $150 fine might seem severe for a parking ticket however the amount of the fine in these circumstances is certainly not excessive. The purpose of increasing these parking fines is to discourage those few inconsiderate drivers who block our roads and frustrate all of us during our commute. Public Works chairman Denzil Minnan-Wong defends the fine increase and was quoted as stating “Illegally parked and stopped vehicles significantly contribute to traffic congestion and are costing motorists money in travel delays, vehicle operating costs and accidents.”
While I support the increase in the fine for this particular parking infraction, it is not necessarily because I think it will discourage people from parking illegally during rush hour. I primarily support this fine increase because I believe the amount of the fine matches the blatant disregard for our traffic laws. The increase in the fine is also fair taking into account the inconvenience and traffic delays that are caused as a result drivers who are parking illegally, presumably for their own convenience.
The city of Toronto is also going to begin towing vehicles where drivers have 3 or more parking tickets that have remained unpaid for at least 120 days. While it is understandable that a person might overlook paying a single parking ticket, it is hard to have much sympathy for the driver who racks up numerous parking tickets and fails to pay off the fines associated with those tickets within a reasonable period of time.
The one initiative from the city of Toronto that does raise some concerns is that of fixing parking fines at a set amount, meaning that a Justice of the Peace will not have the authority to reduce the amount of a fine. Notwithstanding that the increase in parking fines is warranted in these circumstances, there may ultimately be mitigating circumstances in some cases where it would be reasonable for a Justice of the Peace to reduce the amount of the fine.
Increase the Fine for Driving While Using a Cell Phone
While on the topic of increasing fines for traffic offences, the Ontario Government may want to consider increasing the fine for driving while using a cell phone. Although there are many drivers who have switched to using a hands-free device, I continue to see drivers talking or texting while driving. I can’t tell you how many times I have been at an intersection with a green light waiting to go and some inconsiderate driver ahead of me is texting and has not realized the light has changed. I would also imagine that there are a significant number of accidents and near-accidents that are the result of drivers talking on their cell phones or texting.
Currently if you were to receive a ticket for using your phone while for driving, you can expect to receive a fine of approximately $155. Under the current Ontario Highway Traffic Act the maximum penalty you could receive is $500. Notwithstanding the introduction of a law prohibiting hand-held devices being used while driving, it would seem that a significant number of driver continue to use their cell phones while driving. For me, the same rationale applies for increasing the fines for using hand-held devices while driving as it does for the increase in fines for parking infractions. Barring some sort of emergency, the use of a cell phone while driving without hands-free capabilities is simply a disregard for the laws of this province. I am not sure what the reasoning behind using a cell phone while driving is, whether a driver feels his or her phone call or text message is more important than our traffic laws, or whether the driver simply doesn’t care. In either case, I would not take any issue with a fine starting at $300, and a higher fine for any subsequent conviction received within 3 years of the most recent conviction. It might also be worth considering whether a higher fine should be assessed in circumstances where the use of a cell phone while driving contributed to an accident.
Anytime a driver’s conduct increases the risk of an accident or endangers other motorists and pedestrians, even as a criminal defence lawyer I have no problem with that driver being subject to a higher penalty. It may also be that a $300 fine or more might discourage some driver’s from using their cell phone while driving.
If you have a question about a traffic offence or if you have received a traffic ticket, call me or email today.