Non-fatal Errors on a Speeding Ticket
Errors can be made on offence certificates that are not sufficiently damaging to have the charge thrown out by the courts. These errors include: misspelled name, inaccurate address, or incorrect driver’s license number of the accused; incorrect make or model of the vehicle involved, or incorrect license plate number of the vehicle. Also included in the category of non-fatal errors is an incorrect fine or the total payable amount, entered on the ticket. These errors do not void the charges because the erroneous information provided on the offence certificate is not considered to prejudice the accused’s case in any way. Under s. 34 of the Provincial Offences Act R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER P.33 the courts may amend the document so that it contains correct information at any point during the proceeding, if the amendments are disclosed nad supported by evidence.
The case of R. v. Wilson  O.J. No. 4907 sets out what is required for an offence certificate to be considered correct on its face, as determined by Livingstone, J. The four accused in this case were all convicted of speeding, and all of their notices had various errors or omissions. The Justice ruled that only one of the errors was fatal, and that the other three notices were not fatally flawed. Of the three appeals that were denied, one appeal was based on the fact that the driver's licence number was missing from the offence notice, and the remaining two dealt with incorrect set fines. Livingstone, J set out what is necessary to make an offence notice complete and regular in her reasons. She stated that a notice must have an informant who is commencing the process, a defendant, the statute name and section number, and where and when the allegations arose, as well as the set fine, for it to be regarded as a proper offence notice. Any other information is not essential to properly completing the offence notices, because there would be sufficient information on the notices for a conviction to be entered.
R. v. Jakobsen, 2007 ONCJ 219 (CanLII) refers to the matter of the accused's name being misspelled on an offence notice. In this case, the spelling of the accused's name differs between the offence notice, the accused's driver's licence, the certificate of suspension and a business record from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, which documents the convictions, discharges and other actions attributed to the accused. The Defence argued that due to the various improper spellings on the admitted records and evidence, that it did not all pertain to him, and therefore he was not guilty of driving while suspended. Douglas, J. found that there were enough similar indicators, such as address, first and middle names, birth date and previous charges that the accused had acknowledged, to satisfy the Court that the accused was the same person that was named in the evidence, and on the offence notice, despite the various spellings of his last name.
The case of R. v. Sivaguru  O.J. No. 2927 addresses other non-fatal issues, defining them as “surplages”, meaning that they are not necessary to fulfill the intention of the offence notice, and their absence from the notice will not prejudice the accused's ability to decipher his charges or defend himself from them. Clark, J. in this matter refers to the license plate of the vehicle the accused was driving and their driver's license number as surplusage on an offence notice, that has no bearing on whether a notice is valid or not.