Manitoba

Wait to fight traffic tickets tops 1 year in Manitoba

Delays at the courthouse could put the brakes on Manitoba drivers' plans to fight their traffic tickets.

Delays at the courthouse could put the brakes on Manitoba drivers' plans to fight their traffic tickets.

Five years ago, Manitobans had to wait about four months to get their day in court for traffic-ticket offences.

Today, the wait could be as long as 14 months: a ticket issued today, for example, might not see its day in court until January 2009, says Len Eastoe, a former police officer who now helps people fight tickets with Traffic Ticket Experts.

Eastoe blames the traffic jam on a move by Manitoba Justice about five years ago to cut back on the number of court dates for traffic offences.

The long wait is creating problems for some of his clients, he said, as they wait with the stress of a pending court date.

"Some trucking companies, for example, are very, very fussy about their drivers getting even one ticket on their record, so if their job is in the balance in the meantime, that's also hanging over their heads the whole period of time that it's waiting to go to court," he said.

"Sometimes people can say it's a good thing— they'll drive for that much longer with their job— but they still have to live with the stress of that every day."

A long delay could also affect the results of a court case, Eastoe said.

"Their memories are what's important when it comes to giving evidence later on, and memories over that year and 14 months— whatever the time frame is— always gets a little cloudier."

Manitoba Justice officials said the introduction of photo radar has also contributed to the bottleneck and the province is aware of the problematic delays.

"We're working with the provincial court to add a second courtroom, so that would effectively double the number of sitting dates that will be available," said Manitoba Justice spokesman Jeff Schnoor.

Schnoor hopes the move will put a stop to the delays in the next few months.

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