City mulls parking ticket court fee

It will no longer be free to fight those pesky Toronto parking tickets if proposal outlined in a city staff report is approved.

It will no longer be free to fight those pesky Toronto parking tickets if a proposal outlined in a city staff report is approved. 

Each year, the city issues nearly three million tickets.

A fee of $12.75 is now being proposed for those who request a trial and are found guilty.

The fee would also apply to drivers who seek a reduced fine or are hoping the officer won't show up to court. Drivers found not guilty will not have to pay the fee.

Tesh Altalemayer is one of many Toronto drivers who fight every parking ticket as a matter of course, because he can't afford to pay them.

""It's beyond my income," he told CBC News. "I'm trying my best to be lucky and get a discount."

Manuel Arilano uses the same strategy.

"I usually just say I'm guilty and hope that the cop is not here," he said.

Clogging up court system

According to a city report, many drivers who request a trial date do not actually intend to fight the ticket, but are simply hoping for a reduction in their fine. In most cases, the fine is significantly cut when the driver pleads guilty. The average reduction is 50 per cent of the original amount of the ticket.  

"An unintended financial incentive has been created for ticket recipients to request a trial for a parking ticket even if they do not intend to dispute the ticket," said the staff report.

But while showing up for court can result in reduced fines, it's also clogging up the system.

The number of drivers requesting trial dates has risen sharply in recent years. In 2004 only about 2.5 per cent of drivers requested trials. That number rose to 11 per cent last year.

Coun. Vincent Crisante said if adopted, the move will cut court costs.

"We've got upwards of about 270,000 court cases that were registered for last year," he said. "We've got to find better ways to serve taxpayers."

report about the proposal will go to the city's Government Management Committee next week.