Got a ticket? Don't panic, defend yourself in court

So you've been pulled over for some reason that you can't - or maybe can - explain. The police officer is handing you your ticket, and you take it with sweaty hands and a racing heart. Now what? You can't afford another car insurance increase, and your budget is already stretched tight this month. What to do?

Most Canadians just suck it up and pay. But many, whether for financial reasons or because they feel unjustly accused, fight the ticket. Few can afford a good traffic lawyer, and while hiring a paralegal traffic ticket specialist can be less costly, it's still a big expense. Some provinces, like Quebec, won't even allow paralegals in court.

Don't despair; the option overlooked by most - defending yourself in traffic court - still gives you a good chance at winning, or at least lessening the pain. We've assembled tips from provincial courts, plus advice on how to seek your own justice. But don't take this article as gospel, do your own research before you make any decisions that affect your wallet and your reputation. Every province and jurisdiction handles things differently, so don't assume anything.