Alberta’s proposed changes to traffic court trample on civil liberties, according to Calgary criminal lawyers.
The provincial government is proposing a resolution process for those wanting to dispute traffic tickets.
Instead of going to court, people challenging their tickets would be heard by an adjudicator, and any appeal would be heard by an administrative tribunal.
Criminal lawyers held a news conference in Calgary on Monday to voice their concerns over the proposed changes.
In recent years, the number of traffic tickets issued in the province has spiked with photo-radar technology and increased enforcement. Officials are concerned traffic offences are consuming scarce court resources.
The Criminal Defence Lawyer's Association in Calgary calls the proposal a "total denial of civil liberties."
"You have to have your day in court in order to have a proper assessment," said president Ian Savage. "Then you have the right to face the person who is accusing you — the officer who issued it."
Savage says the administrative hearings would trample on the rights of the accused to due process, raising questions about whether the reforms would actually streamline the system.
Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said they are only in the consultation stage right now, and traffic agents and defence lawyers have been invited to participate.
"There is absolutely no proposal on the table at the moment. The only thing that we've said we would not consider is anything that would move away from a person's right to fight a traffic ticket."