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HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:13 pm 
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Hi,

Yes, another post about being charged under Ontario Highway Traffic Act 141(5). :) For reference purposes, the following is the definition of that charge from the HTA:

Left turn, across path of approaching vehicle
(5) No driver or operator of a vehicle in an intersection shall turn left across the path of a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction unless he or she has afforded a reasonable opportunity to the driver or operator of the approaching vehicle to avoid a collision. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 141 (5).


Disclosure from the prosecutor's office arrived a few days ago, and I am preparing a defense arguing that I indeed "afforded a reasonable opportunity" to the approaching vehicle to avoid a collision. The wording of this section of the HTA, specifically the phrase "reasonable opportunity" would seem to make it relatively more difficult for the prosecutor to prove their case, i.e. what exactly is the definition of "reasonable opportunity"?

The following is a summary of the events leading to the collision:

- The T-intersection resides in a rural area, i.e. the roads are not illuminated, only the intersection itself is illuminated
- I was waiting on a red traffic signal in a left turn lane. I was the 3'rd or 4'th car in line
- Light turns green; there is no traffic approaching so everyone in the left turn lane proceeds with making the left turn
- While initiating my turn, I noticed an approaching car in the left lane, i.e. closest to road center. Admittedly, I should have noticed the approaching car sooner. When I did notice the approaching car, I distinctly seeing the car due to the intersection illumination (orange glow) as opposed to the car's headlights. Given that the accident occurred just after dusk, I suspect that the car was still operating with only the DRLs.
- I applied the brakes and managed to come to a complete stop somewhere in the middle of the approaching car's lane
- About 1 second later, the approaching car contacted my driver's side bumper and headlight resulting in the corner of the bumper and the headlight shattering. The term "contacted" was used rather than "collided" or "impacted" since the other car basically scraped along the front of my car and continued along its way for another 30 or so feet.
- There were no other vehicles approaching the intersection

There was a witness to the accident who was apparently "behind" my vehicle. I don't know whether the witness was also in the left turning lane, or whether he was travelling through the intersection. Based on the testimony of the witness, I was charged under HTA 141(5). The officer did not take my statement, and I don't know whether a statement from the other driver was taken. Based on the officer's report in the disclosure package, it seems only a witness statement was taken.

The following are some details provided in the disclosure package:

- The diagram in the "Motor Vehicle Accident Report" shows that the collision occurred while my vehicle was about 50% into the approaching car's lane
- The officers summary (based on the witness statement) stated that the other vehicle swerved to the right to avoid the collision but my vehicle kept turning striking the front left side of V2.

The position of the vehicles during the collision in the diagram basically corresponds to my recollection, however the witness statement does not correspond to my recollection. Specifically, as mentioned above, my vehicle came to a complete stop, and then a second or so later, the other vehicle scraped along the driver's side of my bumper/headlight.

Based on my recollection that I came to a complete stop in the intersection, and that there were no other vehicles in the other approaching lanes, the other driver should have been able to change direction, i.e. swerve, to avoid the collision. This was a very large intersection, i.e. approaching traffic has a pair of lanes, a generous bike lane, and then a right turning lane.

So the basic defence strategy will be that a reasonably skilled driver travelling at the posted speed limit (70 km) should have been able to avoid the collision, i.e. I did indeed "afforded a reasonable opportunity to the approaching vehicle to avoid a collision".

Any thoughts or comments on the above strategy, or anything else for that matter?


I've performed some reading about the court proceedings, but I am not sure exactly how to "tell my story". At this point, I am thinking of posing the following questions to the investigating officer during cross examination:

- Do you know the whereabouts of the witness when they observed the incident?
- If "yes", then where exactly?
- Was a statement taken from the other driver?
- Why wasn't a statement taken from me?

Apart from that I am not clear when/how my side of the story is told. Specifically, that I did come to a complete stop in the intersection. I would like to explore the possibility that the other driver only had the DRLs on (yes, this is a tough one), and the possibility they were speeding. Yes, I realize the other driver speeding is not a defense in itself, but combined with other aspects it might help the judge rule in my favour.

Regarding the other driver speeding, note that the posted speed limit drops from 80 km to 70 km about 200 ft before the intersection. As you might expect most folks travel about 90 km down the road, and large proportion of these drivers do not slow down to 70 km when travelling through the intersection!

Thanks in advance for any replies.


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:24 am 
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hecubus wrote:
Any thoughts or comments on the above strategy, or anything else for that matter?


If there wasn't enough time for you make the left and you felt you had to stop in the middle of the opposite lane instead of proceeding, how could you argue you afforded the other driver a reasonable opportunity to avoid collision? Why not just make your turn since there was so much time apparently?

You're playing this blame game where everyone is at fault but you and the excuses aren't very good. Lots of baseless arguments. You suspect he didn't have his lights on, but you aren't sure. You are assuming he was speeding because you have witnessed other drivers drive slightly over the speed limit in the same spot. So how fast was he going? 75? 80? 85? You don't know.

Does it really matter whether you were able to come to a complete stop in front of the car for a split second or didn't? Are you really going to argue that in that split second the other driver could have dangerously swerved into other lanes to avoid your carelessness? You are asking too much of a person who is being put in that split second decision. No one should have to be put in that situation.

Your case is going to be over before it even begins with this defense.


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:53 pm 
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bend, thanks for taking the time to respond; it is appreciated.

bend wrote:
You're playing this blame game where everyone is at fault but you and the excuses aren't very good

Not sure what you mean by "YOU and the excuses aren't very good". Sure, the excuses can be deemed not very good, but my driving record is quite the opposite (up until the accident of course). In the past 32 years, I've only had a single (minor) speeding ticket and that was 20 years ago. Given the clean record, perhaps the prosecutor would be willing to offer a decent plea bargain.


bend wrote:

Are you really going to argue that in that split second the other driver could have dangerously swerved into other lanes to avoid your carelessness?

No, I don't. The incident took several seconds to transpire, and I certainly admit to making a mistake. The main point I am trying to explore is whether it's reasonable to use the defence a reasonably skilled driver travelling at the posted speed limit (70 km) should have been able to avoid the collision. For example, I don't know how many times an oncoming driver suddenly crossed the middle of the center line in front of my vehicle, and a sudden swerve was required to avoid a collision. Driving errors are made all the time, and other drivers compensate for these errors; that's expected. Am I expecting too much from the other driver in this scenario? Clearly, your opinion is "yes", and I appreciate your response.


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:55 pm 
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hecubus wrote:

I've performed some reading about the court proceedings, but I am not sure exactly how to "tell my story". At this point, I am thinking of posing the following questions to the investigating officer during cross examination:


Reading a bit more on this forum, it appears the prosecutor might be subpoena the witness and the other driver to appear in court. Is this information typically provided with the disclosure, or is this a question that needs to be explicitly posed to the prosecutor?


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:02 pm 
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hecubus wrote:
... it appears the prosecutor might be subpoena the witness and the other driver to appear in court. Is this information typically provided with the disclosure, or is this a question that needs to be explicitly posed to the prosecutor?


Talked to the prosecutor today, and indeed the other driver and witness have been subpoenaed to appear in court. I assume the investigating police officer has been requested to appear, but given he arrived on the scene well after the accident, the officer cannot provide testimony about the accident. In other words, if the officer attempts to testify what the other driver and witness said on the night of the accident, this would be hearsay.

So how crucial is the testimony of _both_ the other driver and witness for the prosecution? In other words, in general, would the prosecutor not be able to proceed if either the other driver or the witness did not appear in court?


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:12 pm 
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Update: The trial occurred a few days ago. I arrived at court early so that I could observe which witnesses actually showed up for the trial, and thus determine if a deal should be attempted with the prosecutor before the trial starts. The investigating police officer showed up (not really an issue since the officer didn’t actually witness the accident and thus cannot really provide any evidence other than road conditions, positions of vehicles, etc.), the other driver and the independent witness showed up.

So I decided to approach the Crown prosecutor to attempt a deal. After explaining the nature of the accident and my very clean driving record, I asked if he would consider a “dismissal with costs” deal. Instead, he suggested that perhaps the charge could be changed to a municipal by-law infraction (imped traffic flow, or something like that) but the fine would be higher. This option was definitely of interest since municipal by-law infraction don't incur any demerit points, and more importantly, a conviction doesn't appear on your driving record.

After the prosecutor discussed the situation with the investigating officer and the other driver, the prosecutor offered to change the charge to a municipal by-law infraction with a total fine of a $240 (instead of the original fine of $110). I gladly accepted since the main goal of this entire exercise was to keep the conviction off my driving record due to insurance concerns.


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:28 pm 
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Location: Ontario
Congrats. Sounds like you got a reasonable deal.

Out of curiosity, what jurisdiction was this? It seems like Crown's are becoming less inclined to offer plea deals to bylaw infractions in many places, so just kind of curious.

Edit: Actually, what bylaw charge did you actually plead to? Certain prohibited turn bylaw charges DO appear on your driving abstract with demerit points. Was it something else?


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:37 pm 
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Additionally, you've probably been found at fault by your insurance company under the Ontario fault determination rules. These rules apply regardless of whether there is a charge laid or not.


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:59 pm 
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Stanton wrote:
Congrats. Sounds like you got a reasonable deal.

Thanks. Yes I figured it was a reasonable deal. As mentioned in the previous post, I was shooting for a "dismissal with costs" deal, but the by-law infraction was a reasonable counter-offer.


Stanton wrote:
Out of curiosity, what jurisdiction was this? It seems like Crown's are becoming less inclined to offer plea deals to bylaw infractions in many places, so just kind of curious.

City of Ottawa.

Stanton wrote:
Edit: Actually, what bylaw charge did you actually plead to? Certain prohibited turn bylaw charges DO appear on your driving abstract with demerit points. Was it something else?

I will have to double check my file folder at home, but I believe the City of Ottawa by-law was:

Traffic and Parking By-law No. 2003 - 530
PART "A": RULES OF THE ROAD
81. (3)

http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/laws-licenses-and-permits/laws/traffic-and-parking-law-no-2003-530-0/part-rules-road#obstructing

When the prosecutor offered the deal, he specifically indicated 0 demerit points and no record of conviction.


Last edited by hecubus on Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:02 pm 
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Decatur wrote:
Additionally, you've probably been found at fault by your insurance company under the Ontario fault determination rules. These rules apply regardless of whether there is a charge laid or not.

Correct. The insurance company determined that I was 100% at fault, and the decision was made regardless of the state of the HTA 141(5) charge.


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:09 pm 
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Location: Ontario
Thanks for the info. And no, that charge should not have any demerit points, it's only bylaws dealing with prohibited turns.


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Re: HTA 141(5) - left turn at T intersection
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:47 am 
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hecubus wrote:

I will have to double check my file folder at home, but I believe the City of Ottawa by-law was:

Traffic and Parking By-law No. 2003 - 530
PART "A": RULES OF THE ROAD
81. (3)

http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/laws-licenses-and-permits/laws/traffic-and-parking-law-no-2003-530-0/part-rules-road#obstructing

After checking my file folder, I can confirm that the above is correct.


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