June of 2009, I was driving home on a Sunday night, aprox 11:45pm. I was in the city (Hamilton). I was sitting at a stop light, I was the only car there, and perhaps a couple other cars heading the opposite direction.
The light turns green, I accelerate to a speed I think is average, there were no other cars around to match pace, I wasn't speeding excessively, I was doing AT MOST, 20km/h over the posted limit of 50km/h. I will admit, I got going a bit fast and I shouldn't have been.
At the first side street (aprox 500ft from the stoplight), there was an officer parked, I do not believe he was doing radar. As I notice him, I immediately relize im going too fast and slow down. As I get very close he flicks on his lights. I quickly pull over.
He approaches my car, asks me what I thought I was doing back there, I do not say anything, I was basically In shock. Then I suggest maybe that I was going a bit fast back there. I give him my documents, he goes back to his car. He was there for about 30min before he came back, another officer also came/left in another vehicle.
He hands me a careless driving ticket and explains he could have given me racing, towed my car, a higher fine, etc. I just take the ticket and head home.
I got zero explination as to why I was being charged with careless, I was NOT racing, It was a clear, dry night. Obviously no accidents, nothing. However, my car did have a damaged exhaust right at the front, it was broken and my car was very loud, obnoxiously loud. I do admit this, at the time I didn't mention that to the officer because I was in shock.
The exhaust had broken on the prior saturday and I was pulled over sunday night. Monday I made an appointment at my garage, and then had it fixed Tuesday. I have the receipt.
I had a court date of early Jan 2010, I went the officer was 'sick' and it was re-scheduled for April 9th 2010. When I was at court the first time, I was called up, and the Judge explained to me the officer was there, nothing could be reviewed, etc. Then asked me if I had any comments, I just told him I wanted to plea guilty to a lesser charge (inproper exhaust).
He then said I couldn't enter a plea, and would have a note marked on my file to meet with someone (not sure who since ive never been to court), and I could wait outside of the court room 30min prior to my next time.
I talked to a few officer friends, they told me to defend the careless. Say I had both hands on the wheel at all times, was in full control of the vehicle at all times, etc. Explain that the officer may have thought I was accelerating at an excessive rate due to my vehicle being so loud etc.
I did not hire legal help, or request a disclouser. It is possible the officer marked on his notes that I was accelerating rapidly off the light, Which I did not. I did not 'nail the gas' as soon as I took off, was not racing or anything. However, It was a warm night, quite and im sure my car sounded like some sort of race car coming towards the officer.
Im just unsure whats going to happen next time I go to court, what to expect, I don't know who is who, who im supposed to 'talk to' prior to court? Its very confusing.
I am fairly well prepared, I have good notes, a solid story and feel like I should do fairly well.
I am only 22, male, and have a clean record prior to this. If I get convicted I will most likley loose my job (I drive a service truck and have been warned about insurance premiums). I will also bring this up, as they must have some feelings, since it is so difficult to get a job in this economy. Afterall, I fixed the vehicle right away.
If anyone can give me any advice that would be great, There was no excessive speed, no accidents, no injury, nothing. So I do feel it will be hard for them to prove me guilty of careless in this instance. Especially with my reasoning/proof with receipt that the car did infact have damaged exhaust and it was repaired.
Please, any advice would great. This does seem unique to me as most careless tickets involve an accident, dangerous driving conditions, injury etc. All of which do not apply to my case.
Secondly when the cop doesn't show up to court ask the JP to throw out the charges. They are the only witness saying you did anything wrong. If they cant tell the court what you alegedly did wrong there is no proof. You dont nessicarily need to prove your innocence, as much as they are suposed to prove your guilt.
Third in this case I would say You NEED to request disclosure. You dont even know what exactly you did to warrent these charges. It could be a busted exhaust or speeding, but even that isn't justify a careless charge. Disclosure is how you find out what the police say you did wrong.
I dont know if you have enough time to even request disclosure now, and get it in time. You might think about getting an adjournment to request it. Also since it is 10 months from the time you were charged you might also think about filing for a 11B charter violation. At this point do you think the police officer will have an independant memory of the event?
http://www.OHTA.ca OR http://www.OntarioTrafficAct.com
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