Was ticketed last December 2011 for Failure to Stop at Stop Sign, HTA 136(1)(a) and finally got my trial yesterday (Jan 17, 2013) after 3 visits to the Markham Rd, Scarborough Court. I represented myself and thanks to the great info from this website (plus some pictures I took as evidence), I WON my case! It was my 1st time in 30+ years of driving to be in Court. Hopefully, my experience will benefit other people.
SUMMARY: I approached a 3-way stop in North York where there was a Stop sign and a thick white stopping line. I stopped in front of the Stop sign very briefly and checked for traffic and pedestrians. All clear, so I made a right turn. More than 30 metres down the road, I saw an officer in his vehicle. He stopped me and gave me a ticket for failing to stop at the Stop sign. I provided him with my license and registration papers. While he was writing up the ticket, I took a picture of the Officer's vehicle to show its location near a fire hydrant and under a prominent tree. I should have taken a picture of the vehicle, SHOWING THE LICENSE PLATE AND LOCATION ON THE STREET.
A few days later, I returned to the location and parked my car where the Officer's vehicle had been parked. It was obvious to me that he could NOT have seen my car at the Stop sign, due to VISUAL OBSTRUCTION by the tall fence of the corner house at the intersection and overhanging foliage. I took a few pictures of the area that day too.
From this website, I learned that I should ask for DISCLOSURE of the Officer's notes. According to the notes, the Officer claimed that he had been parked at 30 metres from the intersection. Using Google Maps, I found that he was ACTUALLY parked 68 metres away from the intersection. I used Google maps Aerial View to create a map with a line - this showed that the Officer's line of sight was blocked by the wooden fence of the corner house.
I decided to build my case on these 2 points: Visual Obstruction of the Stop sign and a Discrepancy in the alleged location of the Officer's vehicle.
Inspecting the location, I also noted that the positioning of the Stop Sign and the thick white Stopping Line was highly irregular. There were 2 metres between these 2 markers. Then, there was a further 1 metre from the intersection. (More often, I see the Stop sign and Stopping Line almost parallel to each other) I decided to add this to my argument. If the Officer was around the corner and situated 68 metres away, and my car was 4 metres from the intersection (behind the tall fence of the corner house), he could not possibly see me stop at the Stop sign.
The Crown Prosecutor was really tough with me. I know, that's her job. She argued that: 1) my picture of the Officer's vehicle could have been of some other Officer's vehicle and therefore inadmissible; 2) the Google map is not accurate in the measurement of distance so I could not prove that the Officer was at 68 metres and not 30 metres as he had noted; 3) the pictures I took had been taken at particular angles to strengthen my case and should not be admitted etc. At the end of her cross-examination, I felt pretty deflated and a bit angry, but I tried to stay calm and firmly stick to my points.
What annoyed me was that the Judge and the Crown Prosecutor complained that I was being repetitive about the corner house, the tall fence, the foliage, the irregular positioning of the Stop sign etc. Repetitive? That was my case! The officer was claiming to see around around the corner from 68 metres. Maybe he had x-ray vision! I was very careful NOT to be sarcastic or raise my voice. I was very polite and made sure to ask the Judge for his guidance and assistance.
Before the trial started, both of them made sure to warn me that IF I insisted on a trial and if I lost, I might have to pay more than the fine etc. I realized that the Court prefers to have a guilty plea, receive some $$$ in fines and move on to other business. Conducting a trial takes up their time too. If you are not 101% confident, I would advise you NOT to do it.
In the end, the Prosecutor had me on a small issue. I said I had stopped BEFORE the Stop sign but by HTA 136(1)(a), I was supposed to stop BEFORE the thick white stopping line. I argued that in all the other Stop sign/painted stopping line configurations that I had examined, I had noted that they were always located close to one another. In the case of MY Stop sign, it was 2 meters away from the stopping line and behind a tall fence. If I stopped at the Stop sign, then started up again, the officer would think that I hadn't stopped at all. And what was the purpose of a Stop sign if you weren't expected to stop in front of it? How would you find the white stopping line on the ground at night?
No one answered my questions about this.
I thought I would lose the case over that issue re: whether to stop in front of a stop sign or a stopping line. I am sure that this issue doesn't often come up in court because the 2 markers are normally properly placed in alignment.
The Judge said that he felt I was sincere in my argument and ruled in my favour. Until the very end, when he made his ruling, I still thought I was going to lose.
I am still wondering where exactly I should stop when I go to that particular intersection. If I stop only at the stopping line, it means I will have rolled by the Stop sign by 2 metres. Is that legal by law?