This is my first post and first offence in my 7 years experience. It is especially frustrating, since I'm following regulations very strictly - I'm one of those who never cuts people off, always uses turn signals when maneuvering and makes a full stop at stop signs and red light before turning right where not prohibited. I've been driving since 2010, I have a G licence and I have no traffic tickets whatsoever (in fact, I have never once been stopped by police and the only three encounters with police that I had were all R.I.D.E. routine checks at highway entrances and exits, which, of course, I passed, because drinking and driving is just stupid. I understand that neither of this is an excuse, and I'm not looking for any excuses. What I came here for is advice. Sorry if this is too much detail, but I thought that any info would be helpful, as I would like to receive as much useful advice I can and I'm exercising my right for a fair trial.
Here's the situation:
I was driving my friend's car. I was driving home on 401 from Kitchener to Toronto to pick up my kid from school. I was also under distress from my personal situation, although I'm not sure if it's relevant here. Driving in the left lane passing cars on the right when I saw a car in the rear view mirror rapidly approaching me, after which I immediately started looking for an opportunity to change the lane to the right when there is a space and it's safe as I believe anyone in the left lane should do in this situation. Not seeing an opportunity and with the car still rapidly approaching, I'm assuming I started speeding up when I saw the car behind me turning up the police blinkers. When it was safe, I signalled and changed the lane thinking I'm letting the police car pass. I was wrong, as the police car changed the lanes behind me. I understood that he was after me, so I signalled right, changed the lane again and then signalled again and safely parked at the shoulder, turned hazard lights on. The police car stopped behind. I immediately prepared licence, insurance and registration to produce at the officer's request. Officer approached on the right (I already had the window open and was holding the documents in my hands). Instead of introducing himself and requesting the documents (which I thought is what usually happens in these cases), the officer literally started yelling at me (he was pretty mad). That, of course, made me extremely uncomfortable and uneasy, although I understand that the officer might have thought I was a hot shot stunt driver, so hence the attitude. Anyway, not complaining, just thought it's worth mentioning.
The conversation went something like this:
Officer [angrily]: Do you know you were going over (I don't remember the exact figure he mentioned, but it was definitely over 150), which is a stunt driving? You flew by me in the right lane in the construction zone, then changed the lane to the middle one and then to the left and started speeding. Do you know that your licence will be suspended, and your car is going to be impounded and you will be facing a fine of $2000 or more? Why were you speeding?
Me: I'm sorry sir, I wasn't aware, I saw a rapidly approaching car from behind and tried... (basically I tried explaining to him what I described above already).
Officer [still angry]: Why are you lying to me? Don't lie to me! You saw my car pushing you from behind? MY CAR? [going even more mad] Tell me the truth! Are you always driving like that or were you just late?
Me: No, sir, I'm sorry, I'm not always driving like that, but I am late to pick up my son from school...
Officer [still angry]: Licence and registration
Me: [I proceed giving him the documents and at that moment I mention it's not my car]
Officer [calms down a bit after he gets the docs]: Oh, it's not even your car?! What is your friend going to say when she finds out her car is impounded? What are you going to do?
Me: She will be mad...
Officer then proceeds with a series of personal questions about my relations with my friend and if we are living together (which we are not, although it's the same apartment building).
Me [a bit confused about those questions, but I answer them truthfully, as I have nothing to hold back]
Officer: Ok, wait here [proceeds to his car]
He comes back after about 10-15 minutes (which I had to contemplate on what arrangements I should make in case I cannot make it in time to pick up my kiddo, and how I would continue my way to Toronto in case my car is impounded). He is much calmer at that time (definitely not angry anymore), says "I'm not going to charge you with stunt driving, I'm reducing the speed to 149 km/h to avoid that charge" and proceeds giving me two tickets, taking his time to explain that I have three options, etc, at that point he's cool:
1) Speeding 149 km/h in a posted 100 km/h zone, the "Code" section on the right of the Plate number field in the ticket is completely empty (there is no "R" or other values there).
2) Drive motor vehicle no currently validated permit (this was quite a surprise, I honestly was not aware my friend has not updated the licence plate sticker, although it's understandable why, because her birthday was in August, and she left Canada for three months in August, leaving me the car, so she completely forgot about it).
The court is more than 100 km away from the place I live. Now let me say I'm not making any excuses here or trying to get out of the consequences as I believe everyone should pay for their mistakes, get it over with and move on, hopefully avoiding these in the future. But, as far as speeding is concerned, while I suspect that could have really been the case (although I'm not sure how fast exactly), but truthfully, in that situation when I had to concentrate on moving over safely to let the pressing car behind pass I wasn't watching the speedometer, so I cannot even attest to exactly how fast I was going. There is a small chance it was a scare from the cop (he was extremely mad at first, or may be wanted to appear intimidating, which totally worked, by the way). As far as the licence plate sticker, I honestly was not aware of that (and, of course, I would never drive a car with the expired sticker knowingly, hoping for the best, that's just not me). Again, I'm not denying that it was my responsibility to make sure the car is drivable before I started driving it, and clearly I missed this sticker. I informed my friend and she immediately paid for the new sticker online and sent me the PDF with confirmation the next day after I got the ticket.
After consulting with 3 "ticket fighting" agencies, all of them say the same:
1) If I decide to hire any of those agencies, they start with choosing an "Early resolution" option, discuss this with prosecutor, and then go from there, at the same time requesting disclosure to find out how strong the case is before going to trial, if it comes to that.
2) Since the officer has reduced the speed, it is unlikely anything can be done to further decrease the charge on the speeding ticket. Of course, in case of trial the prosecutor is most likely to revert the speed to the original, which, as per officers words, was over 150, so stunt driving (with all the "perks and pleasantries"). So the only option would probably be hoping for any reason to throw the ticket out completely either do paperwork mistake(s) or the officer not appearing in court. Which is unlikely, but still possible.
3) The licence plate sticker has a good chance to be thrown out because it appears as an honest mistake (which it was) and it was rectified immediately after getting the ticket.
If I decide to handle it on my own, my understanding of the steps is as follows:
1) Choose early resolution option to make a telephone appointment with prosecutor.
2) First chance I get to travel to the court, request disclosure.
3) Get confirmation for the date of the call in mail (and, possibly, disclosure)
4) Call the prosecutor (or receive a call from the prosecutor) on the set date and time. May be try to explain myself and see where it leads me, perhaps the licence plate sticker ticket may be thrown out and speeding ticket reduced or changed or something. If any offer is made by the prosecutor, request a timeframe to consider it before deciding.
5) If any offers are made and I don't consider them satisfactory, and all other options are exhausted, refuse the offer and go to trial, hoping the cop wouldn't show up.
6) If the cop shows up and there are no other options, accept my fate and plea guilty to the original charges in the tickets (reduced speeding and absence of licence plate sticker).
Am I assuming correctly?
Also, here are two other questions I have:
1) I was told by every agency that the worst case scenario is even if everything else fails, pleading guilty to the existing tickets during trial, so it won't make it worse. However from what I read if you go to trial, the original speed will be reinstated and I might not have a chance to plead guilty to the reduced speed ticket.
So which is it?
2) From reading this forum, I see a lot of advice to avoid option 2 (early resolution) and choose option 3 instead right away. I don't entirely understand why that is the case, since choosing early resolution option might provide an extra time "cushion" that I desperately need, as my insurance renews in April next year, and, if anything, I would like to avoid increased insurance rates for at least a year if I'm convicted. Besides, the tickets say that by choosing "Early resolution" I do not forego the right to a trial. Also, if I chose option 3 (Trial option), for that I would have only 15 days to go in person to the court which is far away. I would like to avoid that.
So what's the harm in using the "Early resolution" option then?
Thank you very much for your feedback and advise.