By Jordan W. Charness; photo courtesy

Unfortunately, Peter is going through a difficult time in his life. He is part of that sandwich generation: he has aging parents in failing health, and at the same time his children are in that acting-out stage called early teenagerhood. His mother was recently hospitalized and his daughter started failing in school. He still has a full-time job to contend with. Needless to say, he has a lot on his mind.

Since Peter is a car buff he generally enjoys his time in the car. In fact, driving between work, home, hospital, his kids’ school, and other day-to-day tasks is time for himself that he cherishes. Sometimes he just lets his mind drift, which is never a good idea behind the wheel of a car.

During this difficult time of his life he got two tickets for failing to stop at stop signs, in the space of two weeks. He is usually very careful about coming to a complete stop and was surprised each time the police gave him a ticket. In fact, he quite clearly remembered stopping at both those intersections. What he forgot to do was send in a ‘not guilty’ plea on time. In fact, he forgot about the two tickets altogether because his current life difficulties got in the way of remembering.

His mom was released from hospital and is doing much better, and even his daughter has settled down and realized that she could do well in school and still enjoy all that being a teenager has to offer. Peter could finally relax a bit.

That is, until he received the first of the two default judgments for those tickets. He only vaguely remembered getting the tickets in the first place since that whole era was a bit of a blur. The two judgments arrived two weeks apart and brought his demerit points to the point where he lost his driving privileges.

As I mentioned in a recent article, most jurisdictions offer a way of obtaining a retraction for a judgment rendered by default. However, until the judgment is actually retracted the points stay on your licence. Sometimes your trial date for a retraction case may be several months away, meaning that your driving suspension would stay in effect unless you went to court with an emergency motion asking that the penalty be delayed until your court hearing on the retraction.

If the judge thinks you have a reasonable chance of getting the retraction and is convinced that you really need your driving licence reinstated, your chances are pretty good that your penalty will be suspended temporarily. Usually the suspension is lifted until the date of the retraction hearing. If the judgment is retracted your points disappear as well.

However all of these steps are just temporary measures. You’d still have to go to a trial for a judge to decide whether or not you went through the stop sign without coming to a complete stop. If you’re acquitted, the whole problem goes away. If you’re convicted, all of your efforts in getting the suspension lifted and the judgment retracted just delay the inevitable. With a conviction will come the points and penalties associated with going through a stop sign.

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