Fighting Parking Tickets in Toronto – For Beginners

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The basic process of fighting a parking ticket in Toronto is explained in this lecture. Also included are some tips about successfully fighting such tickets.

Provincial Offences Act:

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of the law firm, Formative LLP. Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel,

Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals. Subscribe today to learn more.

Amer also offers in-depth courses (by paid subscription) on various legal topics through


Show Notes:


Lecture Slides:

Machine Transcription:

Welcome everyone. It’s Amer Mushtaq from YouCounsel.

Today we’ll talk about fighting parking tickets in Toronto. This is a very basic lecture that provides some basic understanding of the process and tips on how to fight parking tickets. I am not a lawyer who practices anything regarding parking tickets, so this information is coming from my personal experience with the parking ticket that I had received and I thought the ticket was unfair. You are welcome to post your comments and provide your own tips and your own experience of how to fight these tickets if you believe they are worth fighting. A quick disclaimer, that this course is not legal advice. If you have any specific questions you should contact a lawyer or a paralegal.

Some of the examples of the kind of infractions that lead to parking tickets are: unpaid meter parking; you park in a disability parking place illegally; you park close to a fire hydrant or you illegally park your vehicle generally. These are a few infractions if you want to look into the infractions in more detail, maybe the good source is to go to Google, type in Provincial Offences Act. This is the legislation that talks about all kinds of infractions: parking traffic tickets and what not. That is the source of legislation that you may want to look at if you need to learn more about it.

If you follow the Table of Contents, Part 2 is the one that talks about commencement of proceedings for parking infractions. If you expand this particular part you will see all kinds of information: definition of parking infraction; municipal bylaws; how do you provide the Notice of Intention to Appear; how do you set it down for trial, etc. You can review that in more detail and other information in the Provincial Offences Act. These are some of the examples that I can think of—that I provided a view of some of the common incidences where you get a parking ticket.

Once you receive a parking ticket you have three options. (1) you pay voluntarily within seven days; (2) you pay the set fine which is to be paid in 15 days; or (3) you set a Trial date which is to be done in 15 days. Item number (1) voluntary payment: if the face of the ticket states that X amount of dollars can be paid as well into payment then you can make that payment, otherwise it will state the amount of fine and then you can pay that fine within 15 days. There are easier ways in Toronto to pay those fines or voluntary payments. You can do it online on the City of Toronto website through visa or any other credit card. That is pretty straightforward and you can do that.

If you need to set it down for trial—which you know my recommendation is—if you have time and energy to challenge the parking ticket then that is a better strategy (even if you think that you deserve the ticket, i.e., you did cause that infraction). You may be able to save some money by disputing it. For trial you literally have 15 days from the day that the infraction ticket is issued to you. One of the ways that you can set it down for trial (the only way) is that you have to appear in person at that Court Office or somebody has to appear on your behalf (as your agent) in that Court Office. It has to be done physically. You go there with your ticket and then stand up in the queue. Go to the window. You say “I want to challenge this ticket. I want you to set a date for Trial”. They will mark that this is the Notice of Intention to appear in court that must be done within 15 days. If you don’t do it within 15 days then it may be determined that you are actually guilty of that offense and your penalty may be set. There are consequences if you delay it. You must do it as soon as possible.

Once you have been scheduled for trial you will receive the Trial Notice in the mail. It will have a date on which you have to appear in such-and-such court and such-and-such time and you will have a court number indicated on that Notice. You appear at the Court. You will notice when you go outside of that courtroom that there will be a small board which will have a list of all the people who are attending that court that day. Find your name, then, make sure that you have the correct time and then make sure that you are 10 or 15 minutes before the opening time. You line up outside the door of that courtroom because you do want to be ahead in line to get dealt with sooner.

In terms of your options, once you are in that line and the door opens you will see that the prosecutor will be at the front, close to the bench where the Justice of Peace will preside. Everybody lines up on the right or left side of the prosecutor and the prosecutor will deal with you one by one. This is prior to the Justice of Peace even attending or coming there. This is a preliminary process. There is a queue. You get to your number and then the prosecutor will ask you how you do you want to plead. You can either plead guilty or not guilty—that means you want to proceed with the Trial. You can plead guilty with an explanation which is an interesting way of pleading guilty but I’ve seen that happening at least in the process that I attended and that you are guilty you made that mistake of illegally parking or improperly parking but you have an explanation that could get you some sympathy from the Justice of Peace. Then you can also say to the prosecutor that you want to wait for the police officer to arrive and then you will decide what you want to do. That is an important thing to know because the officer who has issued you the ticket—that officer must be present for your case to proceed especially if you are pleading not guilty. This is a common way to get rid of these tickets because often times officers have multiple commitments and they cannot attend on that particular day with respect to your matter. If he does not attend on that particular day when the time comes for you to appear before the Justice of Peace, then your matter simply gets thrown out. Oftentimes, it is actually in every single case, what I suggest is that you should wait for the police officer and see if the officer is attending. If the officer is attending, then you can decide what you want to do. Those are some of the options prior to commencing the trial process. Now the Justice of Peace arrives. Everybody stands up. The Justice of Peace sits down. Then one by one the prosecutor will call in individuals. You will notice (I mean I when I attended this court I thought it was like a zoo), the prosecutor is going through about 100 people in like 1 to 1.5 hours. They have to decide if somebody is accepting the guilty plea and that needs to be entered, the person has to accept it, get the fine, get the notice provided to him and then move out.

This is a pretty fast process. There are advantages and disadvantages in that. We will talk about it briefly. You are called and normally what happens is the prosecutor will complete all of the people who have pleaded guilty because that is faster and will hold off on matters where the officer has not shown up. Basically you know he or she will wait till pretty much the end to see if the officer shows up for that particular case so that the matter can proceed to trial and then the last part are the people who are pleading not guilty and they are proceeding with trial. That is how the process begins.

When it is your turn you want to make sure that when you’re appearing in the court you are dressed properly. It does not have to be a suit and tie but something presentable and you want to be humble. You want to gain the sympathies of the Justice of Peace who is always addressed as Your Worship. It is not your honor. Judges are addressed as your honor. Justices of Peace are addressed as Your Worship—so you address the Justice of Peace as Your Worship, answer the questions when asked (answer only the questions that are asked), make your submissions when they’re allowed. Do not ever interrupt the Justices of Peace, do not interrupt the prosecutor. This is the simple basic manner of exchange (of communication) that you must follow in court because under no circumstances do you want to upset the Justice of Peace because believe me that you will not win any favors by making unnecessary arguments with the Justice of Peace. You want to explain your situation, especially if you have a reasonable explanation. When I attended twice on the same matter, I noticed that every single time somebody came up with an explanation which kind of made sense to the Justice of Peace—every single time it at least resulted in reduction—a significant discount in the fine. I saw fines which were requiring the penalty of $200 or so came down to $30 – $40 or so. You could get a significant reduction in your fines if you have a reasonable explanation.

The explanation could be that you parked by the fire hydrant and it was raining or there was snow and you couldn’t see it properly—things like that, or you had some emergency and then you needed to rush to someplace—all of these explanations are not enough to justify that your case may be acquitted unless you have an explanation that really challenges the validity of the ticket that is being issued. We all have issues in our lives on a day-to-day basis which put us in a situation that we may end up committing infractions that we were not hoping that we will commit—it happens—and Justices of Peace are usually cognizant of that and they take that into account. That is one reason why I say that even if you feel that the ticket was properly issued just by sheer fact that you go all the way to the court, schedule the trial date in person, attend the trial and provide an explanation—the chances are that you will get a significant discount in fines

I’ve added a term called Use of Photos. If you have reason to believe that the ticket was improperly issued, you want to make sure that you take photos right at that time when the ticket was issued—not afterwards. For instance, if you were given a ticket that you parked within three meters off the fire hydrant and you believed that you were not within three meters but four or five meters or something you want to take pictures right then and there. Make sure that the pictures are able to prove what you are saying. You want to make sure that those pictures are notarized. (A) you want to take the pictures yourself and (B) make sure those pictures are notarized so you can use those pictures as evidence at trial. Those are some of the things to keep in mind.

I wanted to share my experience with you and why I ended up in front of the court for this issue. One Sunday morning I was meeting some friends for brunch in Liberty Village in Toronto. As it was Sunday morning I arrived there early. There were lots of street parking /meter parking available. I chose a very convenient spot. There was lots of parking available. I parked my car on the first possible parking spot on that street—in front of the meter or close to the meter. I went to the meter. I took out the ticket. I paid it. I put the ticket on my dashboard and went to attend my brunch. I came back within the time that I had paid for and lo and behold! I see that there is a parking infraction ticket on my windshield. I was quite upset to see that. My initial thought was that the officer did not see that I had paid for parking so I picked up the ticket and I read it. It said parked within three meters of fire hydrant. That upset me and when I looked on the side of the street, sure enough there was a fire hydrant there. I was upset and I was upset primarily because it was a City parking. The City had put the meter there. It was the City that had put the fire hydrant there. It was not a temporary fire hydrant. It was a permanent fixture. Why would the city allow parking within three meters when they have put a fire hydrant there? You can’t send 2 controversial messages. I only looked at the availability of parking and the parking meter and because I noticed that parking is allowed, I did not bother to look further to see if there was a fire hydrant there. I thought this was a mixed message. It was improper and under the circumstances my tickets should be thrown out. That was the principle fight that I wanted to take. The end result was that I was able to get my taken thrown out—not because I had a valid explanation but my trial took so long that I believe the prosecutors got tired of it and the Court got tired of it. In my second appearance, the police officer just did not show up and they threw my case out. That was one example of how these things operate. But in your case there may be circumstances where the ticket is genuinely unfair and so you want to fight it. But again, you want to make sure that it is worth your time and effort. If it is not, just pay the fine and move on.

Hopefully this is helpful. I will invite you to share your experiences with parking infraction and share any tips that you have—any suggestions that you have. By all means post that on the video (in the comment section). Hopefully, you have gotten some beneficial information from this lecture. Thank you for watching and we will see you in the next lecture.

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