Questions Re Potential Dangerous Driving Charge

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Questions Re Potential Dangerous Driving Charge

by: selfpreservation on
Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:21 pm

I was involved in an incident on the highway involving maintenance (not emergency) vehicles which has led to the OPP indicating to me that they may press charges of dangerous driving.

I was travelling in the left lane of a 4 series highway in the GTA. This particular piece of road crests a small rise then descends and curves to the left. The area of the curve is blind until the rise has been crested, and the speed limit is 100 KMH.

I was some twenty car lengths behind two maintenance vehicles driving side by side, a pickup in the left lane and a dump truck type vehicle in the second from left lane. As I crested the rise, the two vehicles braked to a stop, blocking the two left lanes. I had to brake relatively hard to stop as did several cars next to me and behind - no one had any warning to pass in open lanes on the right. There was no warning arrow displayed directing traffic to the right of the vehicles at any time that I saw.

I came to a full stop for 2-4 seconds, but looking in the mirror saw other vehicles approaching rapidly from behind. I engaged first gear (my car is a manual) and pulled slowly onto the left shoulder and drove around the pickup truck.

As I was passing the front of the pickup truck, I was watching the driver of the truck. He came running around the front of his truck carrying a muffler (which was obviously the reason for their stop). He lifted it above his head and made as if to throw it at me/my car.

I continued on, and proceeded at the normal traffic speed. The driver jumped in his truck and gave chase, first pulling up tight on my bumper and then when I moved out of the lane pulling alongside and actually edged his truck to the right in an attempt to frighten/intimidate. This went on for several kilometres until I exited the highway onto a toll highway.

I phoned the OPP from my car, describing the incident and saying that while passing on the left shoulder may have been an HTA violation, it was not done in a reckless manner, it was done because I felt like I had been put into a position of danger and that was the safest way to get out of it (as opposed to, say, merging from a stop into traffic going by unabated to my right) and that my actions couldn't in any way justify the behaviour of throwing the debris at the car then chasing someone down in traffic and using a vehicle for intimidation. I indicated I understood the workers position of vulnerability but that I too wanted to protect myself, and I was driving in a fashion no different than driving in a parking lot with people walking. I said I just wanted the message delivered somehow that the maintenance worker's behaviour was not appropriate either.

Next day I received a message from an OPP constable that they would like to talk to me.

I returned the call, and finally heard back from them a week after the incident. They had (predictably) received a report from the maintenance driver, and were investigating it to determine whether to lay charges of dangerous driving. The constable started the conversation by saying that anything I say could be used in court (after which I declined to say anything about that incident). I asked whether my report was the reason for their call (because when I made the call I admitted driving past on the left), and whether they had matched up the two reports. They indicated they had the other report but she seemed to know only about the threat with the muffler and nothing about the pursuit or intimidation. They also said that they are trying to see if there is any traffic camera footage from the area which shows the incident. The constable may have alluded to video on the maintenance vehicles - that was unclear. If there is video, it will bear out my description of my actions (and the driver's as well).

They asked if I wish to come in and make a statement. I indicated I would think about it, but not until I had obtained some legal advice on the matter. I think I am ill-advised to do so.

I asked if they would be looking at footage from the entire trip up the highway until I exited to review the behaviour of the driver of the truck as well and received an inconclusive answer. I am, frankly, uncertain that there are any cameras on this section of the highway.

They have not, as yet, made any decision about laying charges.

As you might imagine, I am fairly distressed about this. I am on the verge of being a senior and have a very good driving record, with my last moving offence being for speeding some ten years ago and no pattern or even offences other than speeding before then. I am frankly astounded that someone would contemplate criminal charges under these circumstances. It strikes me that they are well short of the burden of proof for dangerous driving and are perhaps on a fishing expedition.

I should add that I didn't and don't care what if anything happens with the driver of the maintenance vehicle, except that in my lay persons view it seems that their actions are probably closer to the definition of dangerous driving than mine were. My purpose in calling about him was to say "I understand him feeling anxious out there, but someone should suggest to them that chasing someone up the highway and using a pickup truck to intimidate them is maybe a little dangerous too"

I would be interested in hearing professional opinions and any insight about this. I plan to seek legal advice rather than leave it to chance that they drop the matter, because the ramifications of a charge of dangerous driving are so high.
Last edited by selfpreservation on Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by: selfpreservation on
Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:28 pm

I'm going to add to this that I understand dangerous driving is a criminal charge and as such may be beyond the usual topics commented on in these forums, but my questions are aimed at understanding how something which has not resulted in any immediate action would go to DEFCON1 in an instant.

Dangerous driving seems to me to be way out of proportion to the facts of the incident as I see them (which doesn't mean the OPP aren't basing their actions on a different version of the story).
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by: jsherk on
Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:57 pm

If you are charged, then the driver of the truck (or another witness) would need to show up at court to testify against you. You would then have an opportunity to cross-examine this person and ask them about all the other events and you would try to get them to admit what they did and try to get them to admit that you went by slowly.

After you cross examine them, you would have an opportunity to get on the stand yourself and give your side of the story.

Your explanation, if believed by a JP, would probably be sufficient to get the charge dropped as you were in danger (two lanes blocked in front, fast approaching traffic behind).

Anyways the police have up to 6 months from the date of the offence to charge you, so no point worrying about it for that long.
+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++
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by: Decatur on
Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:28 pm

If the OPP are looking at criminal charges you can pretty much ignore all of what jsherk has said. 1) You won't be cross examining anyone. You'll need a lawyer.
2) It won't be heard by a JP.
3) The six months doesn't apply to Criminal charges.

You need to start considering legal council for this incident and ensure you discuss this with them prior to making any more statements.
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