11/10/2011 11:37 EST | Updated 01/10/2012 05:12 EST

Report says drivers should not have to go to court to fight parking tickets

TORONTO - The Law Commission of Ontario is recommending drivers be allowed to fight a parking ticket without going to court.

The commission says letting people dispute a parking ticket before a municipal hearings officer would save court resources for more serious and complex matters.

The suggestion is part of the commission's final report on modernizing the provincial offences act, which includes statutes governing traffic, liquor and health and safety, among others.

More than two million charges are laid each year under the provincial offences act, which the law commission says is "unduly complex" for the large majority of minor offences.

The report says the act makes little distinction among "the vastly different types of charges before the court," and should be updated.

It also calls for increasing the range of penalties to be fairer to defendants and to make a simple information guide available to people who have been charged.

There is more than $1 billion outstanding in unpaid fines under the provincial offences act, with two-thirds of penalties levied for speeding or driving without insurance.

The Law Commission receives provincial funding, but is independent of government, and makes recommendations to improve justice and make laws more relevant and efficient.