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Getting a ticket...


If you get a photo radar or red light ticket in the mail, you basically have four choices:

  • You can dutifully send your money off to Victoria, never to be seen again.

  • (this option is for those who enjoy new forms of taxation)
  • You can nominate the driver of the vehicle.

  • (thereby potentially giving them 3 points, and ICBC more revenue!)
  • You can make Victoria work for their money by using the rights available to you.

  • (for those who disagree with photo radar for any of a number of reasons -- this may increase the costs of collection to the government)
  • Or, you can challenge the ticket and possibly keep your hard earned money!

  • (for those who want to go the distance!)

    If you are served a photo radar or red light ticket in person, you currently have two choices:

  • You can dutifully send your money off to Victoria, never to be seen again.

  • Or, you can challenge the ticket and possibly keep your hard earned money!
  • Either way, don't make a decision yet, but follow these steps:

    STEP 1 - Carefully examine the ticket to ensure that it is correct on its face...
    Is this definitely your car? Does the licence plate of the vehicle agree with the plate number on the Violation Ticket.

    Photo radar photographs are imprinted with alpha-numeric codes across the bottom. The code line will typically take the form of:

    Old tickets (manual processing, attached color photograph):
    New tickets (automated processing, laser printed black & white images):
     A  Image Control Character (could be any letter from A to P)
     RRRR  Film roll number
     NNN  Frame number from the roll of film
     YYMMDD  year, month, day
     HHMMSS  hour, minute, second
     Z  Internal check digit (could be any letter from A to Z)
     -  Vehicle direction (+ approaching camera, - receding from camera) 
     123 or 23  Vehicle speed (km/h)
     or SSS 
     Deployment Site Code
     OOO  Photo Radar Operating Officer's Identification Number
    Check the following:
      1. The YYMMDD and HHMMSS agree with the date and time charged on the Violation Ticket.

      3. The speed charged (123 or 23) agrees with the speed printed on top of the Registered Owner's Offence Image.

      5. The vehicle direction (-) agrees with the direction of your vehicle:

      7. The Image Control Character (A) should be any letter from A to P.

      9. The Internal Check Digit (Z) should be any letter from A to Z.

    STEP 2 - Help SENSE compile a list of exact photo radar locations...
      SENSE is compiling a list of the exact photo radar locations used in the province. This will allow us to provide specific high accident locations, as identified by the police and community groups, to motorists in BC. By familiarizing yourself with these locations, you may reduce your risk of accident by driving accordingly.

      Please help us compile and maintain an up-to-date database. When you receive a photo radar ticket, take a moment to enter the following information. All replies will be kept strictly anonymous.

      If your browser doesn't support forms or you are using NetCruiser, do not use this form, but send an e-mail with the following information:

    Please enter the following information exactly as printed: 
    From the ticket page titled "Registered Owner's Offence Images
    ... your motor vehicle was recorded at a speed of  kilometers per hour (km/h), where the legal speed limit is  kilometers per hour (km/h).
    From the ticket page titled "Violation Ticket"
    (city, place or town)
    AT OR NEAR: 

    Enter the three or six-digit Deployment Site Code from the line of yellow characters printed on the bottom of the attached photograph:


    Thank you for helping us provide this service to motorists in BC. Individual replies will be kept in strict confidence and will be discarded once pertinent data from the above form is entered into data file.

    STEP 3 - Carefully examine the circumstances of the ticket to ensure they are correct as charged:
    Examine the photograph to see if you recognize the location where the photo was allegedly taken. Does it agree with the location described on the ticket?

    NEW!Check that the described street is correct. For example, many tickets were recently withdrawn when the street "St. John's" was incorrectly entered as "St. John" -- a street which does not exist in the particular municipality.

    If you are unsure of the location, we would encourage you to return to the location described and attempt to verify the actual photo location. (If you are unable to return to the location of the alleged infraction to gather evidence -- for example, if you were vacationing in another area of the province -- you've just stumbled across one of the fundamental problems of photo radar enforcement).

  • While you are at the location, check that the actual location agrees with the detailed location description on the Registered Owner's Offence Image and Violation Ticket.
  • While you are at the location, check that the posted speed limit agrees with the legal speed limit described on the Registered Owner's Offence Image.
  • Check that the fine and charged section are correct:

    Offence fine for km/h over limit
    1 - 20 21 - 40 41 - 60 61+
    146 (1) Speeding
    (above 50 km/h in a municipality or 80 km/h elsewhere)
    $115 $173 $345 $460
    146 (3) Speeding Against Highway Sign
    (above posted speed)
    $115 $173 $345 $460
    146 (5) Speeding in an Unorganized Area
    (above 60 km/h in a unorganized area)
    $115 $173 $345 $460
    146 (7) Speeding in a Municipality
    (above posted speed)
    $115 $173 $345 $460
    147 (1) Speeding in a School Zone
    (above 30 km/h between 08:00 and 17:00 on regular school days in posted "30" zones)
    $173 $230 $345 $460
    147 (2) Speeding in a Playground Zone
    (above 30 km/h between dawn and dusk in posted "30" zones)
    $173 $230 $345 $460
    140 Speeding in a Construction Zone $173 $230 $345 $460


    For your information, here is ICBC's "Listing of Fines and Penalty Points". Remember: penalty points only apply to photo radar or red light tickets when the driver and registered owner have successfully completed the "nomination" process.

    STEP 4 - Check that the ticket was issued under the advertised guidelines:
    Does the location meet the "fairness code" or operating standards? By the way, if you have trouble understanding or defining the subjective operating standards used by the program, you are not alone!
  • Was the location properly advertised? Check our archived list of photo radar locations.

  • Was the site at least 500 meters away from traffic signals, stop signs, yield signs and freeway ramps?

  • Was the site at least 300 meters away from curves with advisory speeds?

  • Was the site at least 300 meters away from bridges?

  • Did the site have a crash history or, a documented record of speeding as a community concern? Was this substantiated by accident data which shows speed was the contributing factor?

  • Is there community support for the Speed Camera Project (did your city council OK the project)?

  • Was the site on a relatively straight and flat section of road where drivers do not typically accelerate or decelerate but travel at a constant speed?

  • Did the speed you were allegedly travelling at exceed the average 85th percentile speed of free-flow traffic. (You might need to hire a traffic engineer for this one!)

  • Was the site at least 150 meters from a speed sign change in a municipality or at least 300 meters from a speed sign change on a highway or a speed transition zone? (A transition zone is a relatively short speed zone between a high and a low one which allows drivers to comfortably accelerate or decelerate. For example, a transition zone of 70 kph is often used between a 50 kph speed zone within a town and a 90 kph zone in an adjacent rural area.)

  • Was the site established in an appropriate speed zone?

  • Was the site safe for the Speed Camera Operator and the motoring public?
  • If you have answered NO to any of the above questions, you might want to take up the issue with any or all of the following:
  • The media.
  • The local traffic safety committee which approves photo radar use in the community.
  • Your city council.
  • Your MLA.
  • The photo radar information line.
  • The regional photo radar police ITCU.
  • SENSE -- unfortunately, without your help, there is not much we can do about the above frequent violations.
  • The provincial government has refused to put this "fairness code" into legislation, leaving you with little recourse if they violate it -- and they frequently do. Because these points are not in statute, they are not relevant to a justice if you fight the ticket.

    STEP 5 - Does the ticket have any problems as identified above or other flaws?
    Some common concerns...
  • The enforcement officer ("police officer") operating the photo radar van (whose number is on the photograph -- see above "000") will not be the same person as the enforcement officer (or "charging officer") who signed the ticket you received.  This is not an issue upon which to fight a ticket.
  • Another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction is very unlikely to affect the accuracy of the speed reading.  Unless you have advanced technical knowledge about the software and hardware of these photo radar units, fighting tickets on this issue is probably not worth your time.
  • Describing the Colour of the vehicle as for example, yellow instead of gold, or black instead of grey, or describing the Type of car as a hatch-back instead of coupe are not issues to challenge a ticket on, but merely represent the limited and fixed categories that ICBC computers allow a vehicle to be registered under.
  • Many photographs appear very dark when, in fact, they were taken during normal daylight hours. This allegedly! results from the photograph processors darkening the exposure in order to enhance the legibility of the licence plate. If in doubt, you could ask for a normally printed photograph to be produced, or you could argue that the bad photograph impairs your right to full answer and defence.
  • If there are flaws, you can contact the photo radar info line to see if they will cancel the ticket. The other option is to fight the ticket in court.

    If the flaw is serious, or you have other questions, we want to know! -- but before you contact us, please note that many other common concerns are addressed on our page "going to court".

    STEP 6
    Before you rush out and file a dispute, read the information on the next page "dealing with a ticket" -- it may be in your best interest to wait for service (if you have not yet been served) rather than responding to the mailed ticket and saving the government the need to personally serve you. Also, before you file a dispute, please read the first section of the page "going to court" to ensure that you have a valid issue.

    Go to step TWO!

     Rev: 2000.06.07 contact SENSEtext map of SENSE web siteback to SENSE home pageback to top of this page