Posts Tagged ‘traffic court’
“I want to see the radar reading!” This was always a signal to me that the traffic stop was going to be a difficult one. The demand for a print out of the radar reading was a similar request. Depending on the tone of voice, it was often simpler to refuse outright and explain later on in traffic court, letting the justice be the referee.
In British Columbia, the police are not required to show radar or laser readings to the alleged offender. Further, I have never used a radar or laser that created any sort of printout to hand to the person receiving the ticket.
Failing to do either one will not make any difference to the case in traffic court.
When the request was a polite one, I would show the readout of the device and explain it. Often I would also detail how the unit was tested for accuracy and then do the tests on the spot. In the case of a tripod mounted laser I would occasionally allow the driver an opportunity to use it themselves. This probably reduced the chance of a dispute because the person understood how their vehicle’s speed had been measured.
It always seemed that I either had not locked in a violator speed or had locked in a following vehicle’s speed when the tone was belligerent. No amount of explanation would satisfy the person that I couldn’t recall their speed after they had passed by and I had measured the vehicle behind them. The sight of a blank display virtually guaranteed a dispute. Rather than suffer prolonged verbal abuse, I would refuse and wait for court.
For evidence to the contrary, your own speedometer will be the source of the reading that is important to your defence. Testing to make sure that your speedometer is accurate immediately following the receipt of a speeding ticket will reinforce the importance of that reading. It will also help you determine the accuracy of the officer’s measurement.
Angela Ta Leaves Court, Found Not Guilty on All Charges
In January of last year a 6-year-old, Jenna Chang was killed and her mother Ye Qiao was seriously injured while in a crosswalk near the University of Calgary. Even though a vehicle was already stopped in front of the crosswalk, a black BMW driven by Angela Ta failed to stop and hit the two pedestrians. Ta was charged with three traffic violations, careless driving, failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
On Monday, she was found not guilty on all three charges because of a simple technicality. The Judge in the case, Catherine Skene ruled that Ta did not have enough time to stop:
“Based on the evidence and testimony that I did have before me,” wrote Skene, “there is evidence to suggest that the two pedestrians stepped off the sidewalk and/or curb, onto the roadway — specifically westbound 32nd Avenue into the path of Ta’s vehicle when Ta’s vehicle was so close that it was impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way.”
What a load of bullshit! There was a vehicle already stopped at the crosswalk, and every driver is expected to at least slow down before proceeding through, which Ta did not do. Even her passenger testified that he saw the pedestrians after “bending down” to adjust the air vents. Ta should have seen the pedestrians on the side of the road before they were even crossing and stopped (like the other vehicle did).
The Crown argued this point and said Ta should have seen the pair at the side of the road before they entered the crosswalk. However, the law states that you must yield to pedestrians who are in a crosswalk. The technicality that I mentioned earlier is that a crosswalk is the area between the two big white lines on the road. You see, when Jenna Chang and her mother were standing on the side of the road drivers like Angela Ta are not required to yield to them because they are not in the crosswalk.
That explains the not guilty verdict for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The last charge of careless driving was easily beat because independent witnesses testified that Ta was driving under the 60 km/h speed limit on a straight road with both hands on the wheel (uhh… yeah, right).
Ta now still has to go through a civil trial where she will likely be found at fault. Judge Catherine Skene wrote in her decision:
“Civil liability and negligence law and a civil trial judge or jury may consider the Crown’s submissions more persuasive and impose or imply a duty of care on an operator of a vehicle for the safety of pedestrians, depending on the circumstances of the case and the facts proven during the trial”
In other words, there will not be any technicalities to get you off in civil court!
Ontario introduced a controversial street racing law last year that gave police the power to seize vehicles and driver’s licenses if drivers were charged with street racing or stunting. According to statistics kept by the Ministry of the Attorney General in Ontario and published by CBC News police had laid 5,139 street racing or stunt driving charges since the law was enacted on Oct. 1, 2007.
However, only 1080 of those cases made it to trial and only 325 resulted in convictions. 526 of them were reduced to speeding tickets (probably what they should have been in the first place). The trouble with all of this is that those who are charged with the new law face hefty fees in the form of towing and storage charges for their seized vehicles.
George Papazov is one of these victims of the new law. Papazov was charged with stunt driving when he rode his motorcycle between lanes of cars stuck in traffic so he could get to his exit. In court, the judge did not agree with the charges and instead was issued a citation for an illegal lane change and fined $600. His tow charges totalled $1,000.
“Anything can be stunt driving,” said Papazov. “It gives the officer the power, on the spot, to decide if you’re guilty or not.”
While nobody is debating the fact that Papazov was lane splitting, I think a charge of stunt driving resulting in over $1,000 in towing fees before he has his day in court is wrong. Even the judge agrees. I’m all for bad drivers getting the punishment they deserve, but this new street racing law accomplishes nothing other than revenue generation.
What are your thoughts?
Here’s a warning to anyone that is going to fight a traffic ticket themselves in court. A Calgary woman ran a red light by Chinook Center more than four years ago. Yesterday, she was handed a 6 month conditional sentence and a criminal record for two counts of perjury. Judith Measor had lied in traffic court twice by answering “no” when asked if she had any previous traffic tickets and again when asked if she was previously known as Judith Prentner.
So, let this be a lesson. If you’re busted running a red light, then pay the $287 ticket and learn to stop next time you see the lights changing. If you’re going to fight the ticket, hire somebody like pointts because it sure beats having a criminal record when you screw up.
Have you ever been traveling a long distance from home and received a traffic ticket that you felt you should dispute in court? Were you disappointed to learn that in order to dispute the allegation you would have to travel all the way back to the court nearest to the place where the ticket was written? Many drivers decide at this point that the issue is not worth pursuing, pay the ticket and carry on.
Recent changes to the Offence Act tell of a significant change on the horizon. The tentative step of allowing the enforcement officer to testify via video conferencing or telephone at some court locations in British Columbia will be extended to the prosecutor and the defendant in the near future. This will apply throughout the province as well.
I contacted the Ministry of the Attorney General for more information and learned that teleconferenced disputes will only be allowed for certain offences, or certain offences in certain circumstances. They were not able to tell me anything more as the system is still in development and many decisions have yet to be made ranging from which offences will be designated to how the public might access teleconferencing equipment.
It will be interesting to see if teleconferenced disputes will involve more than verbal presentation by any of the parties. How will one introduce photos, drawings or other physical evidence? Perhaps the prescribed circumstances will limit this.
The justice hearing the trial may be operating under the biggest disadvantage. I suspect that many cues they use to decide on how much weight to give to the evidence they are hearing come from being able to observe the person testifying. Disputes by telephone will remove the opportunity to “size up” both the prosecution and the defence.
Hopefully the initiative will provide the public with convenient access to court services that are delivered in a timely manner.
Beyond Media, Inc.