Speeding safely, apprehended dangerously!

ChilledDennis
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Speeding safely, apprehended dangerously!

Unread post by ChilledDennis on

Hi, all,

A couple weeks ago I was out for one of my last rides on my sportbike (94 Kawasaki ZX6E) before I sell it. I've had it for three seasons but have been wanting to get something less ridiculously fast and more comfortable for long distances.

Unfortunately, I got twinked while getting a last taste of the performance. An OPP officer spotted me on County Road 7 near Elora and followed me onto an empty sideroad where, unaware of his presence, I uncorked the bike for a quick blast up to speed. He wound up tagging me at 169kph in an 80 zone, hit me with a Stunting charge, impounded the bike and suspended my license.

So, fine, I got caught. That's not what bothers me (I'm 34 years old and have learned to take my medicine). What bothers me is that the officer behaved extremely aggressively in pulling me over--he overtook me at approximately 180-200kph, cut me off, and forced me to the side of the road. Obviously, at that speed I wasn't watching my mirrors (cant see them when tucked forward on a bike), and the last thing I was expecting was to get passed. He didn't use his siren or horn and didn't give me chance to pull over on my own; the first I knew of his presence was when he blasted past me.

He really surprised and angered me--I thought someone was trying to race me until I saw the lights on the back of his unmarked cruiser. Fortunately for both of us, I maintained good control of the bike and brought it to a safe stop. I politely expressed to him my concern that he had apprehended me in an unsafe and discourteous manner to which he replied, "Well, sometimes we have to do whatever it takes to stop you guys." Seriously.

Is this in any way appropriate? Aren't officers supposed to break off a chase if it exceeds a certain speed, or does that only apply in urban areas? Is there not some proviso in OPP procedure that requires them to use all available signalling methods before aggressively passing someone and forcing them to the shoulder? Is an officer permitted to use potentially lethal force to pursue a traffic charge?!

The road that this occurred on, as I said, has perfect visibility for several kilometers. It was free of traffic, pedestrians, wildlife and debris and there are no driveways alongside it for the first two kilometers, so no chance of being surprised by someone turning out. That's why I was speeding there--I was being dangerous in the safest possible way, if you will, or at least not posing a danger to anyone but myself. I feel like the officer did something far more dangerous in order to apprehend me than what I was doing in the first place, and I can't let that go. This guy is a hothead and needs to be taken out of a car before he kills somebody.

So, how should I go about fighting this? I haven't talked to any paralegals yet (which is what EVERYONE has advised me to do so far), but I can't help but think that this charge will be dismissed if I can effectively demonstrate that the officer's actions were substantially more dangerous than mine. Thoughts?


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Unread post by Stanton on

ChilledDennis wrote:I can't help but think that this charge will be dismissed if I can effectively demonstrate that the officer's actions were substantially more dangerous than mine. Thoughts?
Absolutely not, the officers actions have no bearing on your speeding charge. You'll have to fight the speeding/stunt charge on the strength of the evidence and/or seek a plea deal. Furthermore speeding is an absolute liability offence, meaning there is little to no way you can justify the action.

Two thoughts, first nothing of what you've stated about the officer's actions struck me as inappropriate or contrary to suspect apprehension pursuit policies (albeit I'm not familiar with the OPP's) and second, if you try to argue to the Courts you were speeding safely, the Justice of the Peace is going to blast you.

You may not feel the officer's actions were appropriate, but the Court room is not the location to address the matter.


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Unread post by viper1 on

An OPP on this site said their cars stop/or quit (limit at 160.) (I know better)
You must have had to slow down for him to catch you?
I had a similar bike and out side of a race-car nothing else is getting close.

If his car cannot do that speed how did he catch up to you?

Persue any mistakes with jurisdiction.
Post disclosure I might be able to help.

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ChilledDennis
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Unread post by ChilledDennis on

You're right, Viper1, I had rolled off the throttle before he passed me; I was probably down to 140-150 by the time he overtook me with a delta of 30-40kph. I doubt many (if any) cruisers are limited--I was chatting with a Waterloo Region cop about a year ago who bragged that he had done 200 in his. Regardless, getting a 4500lb Crown Victoria up to those speeds takes some commitment, where it's just a flick of the wrist for a sportbike.

Stanton, this cuts to the heart of the problem I've had with s.172 since it's proposal several years ago--it's too black and white, and at the same time too arbitrary. I'm sure you'd agree that there's a big difference between what I did and, say, someone with a car full of passengers going 100kph through a school zone in the snow on bald tires, even though they'd be subject to the same charge. With speeding charges, conditions should be the only thing that matters, but it's much easier to just lay a blanket law that says "50kph over the limit is unacceptably dangerous" and force everyone under the same umbrella.

This is a life-wrecker of a charge and it needs to be used sparingly; reserve it for times when someone has demonstrably been putting others at high risk. Instead, cops lay it whenever they can so they can stand before the public and say "look how many dangerous speeders we've taken off the road," even if most of those drivers were travelling with a hundred other cars at 151kph on 401. Most people who have gotten this charge haven't been dangerous, just unlucky.

None of this is to say that I disagree with the spirit or intent of s.172. It was formulated in the wake of several street racing incidents in the GTA in which bystanders were killed, and something clearly needed to be done about that. The problem that I have is that there's a big difference between driving fast and driving dangerously, and it helps nobody if we confuse the two. The wrong people are being punished.


Stanton
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Unread post by Stanton on

I'm not debating the merits of our speeding laws, and don't necessarily disagree with some of your opinions. I'm just telling you from personal experience the Courts don't like to hear you describe your actions as safe or justified.

As Viper said, review the disclosure against you, see if they have a solid case. It will then be time to decide if it's worth pursuing in Court or seeking a plea deal.


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Unread post by ChilledDennis on

Thanks, Stanton; your experience, opinions and input are very much appreciated. Obviously, I have no experience of my own with this sort of thing...

I certainly don't blame JPs for taking a tough line, since everyone is always going to argue that they weren't behaving dangerously. I just feel that there should be some burden of proof on the part of the prosecution that other people were being put at risk. My only question as far as that goes would be whether it's likely that the OPP cruiser's camera would have been running. Having the whole thing recorded would at least show that there was no one else around and that the road was clear (and that the cop was driving like Dale Earnhardt, if I choose to pursue that).

I'll request disclosure and start talking to lawyers. Update to follow.


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Unread post by hwybear on

viper1 wrote:An OPP on this site said their cars stop/or quit (limit at 160.) (I know better)
i think that officer was referring to the large trucks mentioned in that other post, not the normal front line pursuit rated vehicles (vic/impala/charger/tahoe)
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Unread post by hwybear on

Stanton wrote:Two thoughts, first nothing of what you've stated about the officer's actions struck me as inappropriate or contrary to suspect apprehension pursuit policies .
I completely agree with you Stanton.
Above is merely a suggestion/thought and in no way constitutes legal advice or views of my employer. www.OHTA.ca


ChilledDennis
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Unread post by ChilledDennis on

That bothers me.

If an officer begins pursuit of a speeding vehicle, I would agree that it's appropriate to overtake and force the vehicle to the shoulder IF there's some indication that the driver doesn't intend to stop. My objection in my case is that the officer who pursued me didn't run his siren, so I didn't know he was there--if I had heard it, I would have pulled right over. If he thought that I didn't intend to stop, and therefore needed to force me to stop, why didn't he charge me with failing to stop when directed?

It just seems wrong to me that I wouldn't be given a chance to stop on my own, especially given the clear conditions; I concede that an officer would be justified in acting more aggressively if the same thing were to occur in traffic. I just object to being "bounced," when I clearly wouldn't have been expecting another car to pass me. It seems reckless on his part.


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Unread post by Radar Identified on

Originally the s. 172 law was supposed to be confined to what it was supposed to be for: Street racing. However, then-OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino was quite vocal about how "excessive speed" needed to be considered racing, and Premier Dad threw it in there as well. I agree that stunt driving/racing should be reserved for people who genuinely are trying to race, or driving like complete demented kamikazes... but unfortunately we have this present situation, which will definitely not change if the current government gets re-elected.

I would think that the best course of action would be to try to at least use the horn/siren prior to making a manoeuvre such as the one you described, but I wasn't there so can't say for sure.
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Unread post by Reflections on

ChilledDennis wrote:That bothers me.

If an officer begins pursuit of a speeding vehicle, I would agree that it's appropriate to overtake and force the vehicle to the shoulder IF there's some indication that the driver doesn't intend to stop. My objection in my case is that the officer who pursued me didn't run his siren, so I didn't know he was there--if I had heard it, I would have pulled right over. If he thought that I didn't intend to stop, and therefore needed to force me to stop, why didn't he charge me with failing to stop when directed?

It just seems wrong to me that I wouldn't be given a chance to stop on my own, especially given the clear conditions; I concede that an officer would be justified in acting more aggressively if the same thing were to occur in traffic. I just object to being "bounced," when I clearly wouldn't have been expecting another car to pass me. It seems reckless on his part.
I think, just an opinion here, that most officers when they see a sport bike, and admittedly at a high rate of speed, they want to catch it. Kind of a natural officer reaction really. Now, the inherant nature of bikes being road rockets et al, gives them a huge advantage on the typical police cruiser. Perhaps the officer just reacted with a trained instinct and wanted to ensure that you would not run, given your accelaration advantage. Seeing as you were doing a reported 169Km/h, perhaps the officer thought 200+ was not out of the question.

Besides, anyone who frequents that area knows that the "fuzz" is never far away....... just sayin!
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Unread post by HTA128 on

You're still alive right? Maybe he should have tapped the siren causing you to crank your right wrist, accelerate to a crazy speed, crash, die and then he can get investigated by the SIU. Good luck in court.


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Unread post by ChilledDennis on

All good points.

And you're right, HTA128, that the officer's duty (as he considered it) was to bounce me before I tried to run. I don't blame him for that; he couldn't have known what my intentions were. It's just a very bitter pill to swallow to know that if I hadn't been caught, I would have decelerated to a reasonable speed at the end of the open straight, headed home and gone about my life as usual. Now, though, I've been charged with something that's going to ruin my driving record and make my life very expensive for the next six years, when I was posing a danger to exactly nobody.

I don't regret speeding the way that I did; I think all of us can agree that, in these days of 300hp family sedans, 170kph isn't as fast as it used to be. Especially on a sportbike, you can be up to those speeds and down again in the blink of an eye (they stop even better than they go), and very safely, too, if conditions are clear and you're a competent rider. I just wish that our system would shift its focus from charging people with things that are easy to convict to things that genuinely pose a threat to public safety.

Case in point: I was grocery shopping the other day and did a quick check, just for fun--I looked at the tires on the other cars in the row where I was parked. Out of the ten cars in the row, FOUR were on completely bald tires (like, exposed-cords bald). It sends a chill up my spine that these people go out and drive in the rain, or even snow, thinking that they're safe, responsible drivers, when they're really a ticking time bomb. The biggest problems on our roads are lack of vehicle maintenance (most people know nothing about even very basic automotive principles), lack of skill (it's FAR too easy to get a license, even with graduated licensing, and no instruction program provides even basic car-control techniques; just rules-of-the-road training), and lack of discipline (especially lane discipline--how hard is it to "drive on the right, pass on the left?!"); until we start addressing these things we can charge all the drivers we like with speeding and it won't do a bloody thing for road safety.

My driving record is cooked and no one is any safer as a result. The system is failing all of us miserably.


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Unread post by Reflections on

ChilledDennis wrote:All good points.

And you're right, HTA128, that the officer's duty (as he considered it) was to bounce me before I tried to run. I don't blame him for that; he couldn't have known what my intentions were. It's just a very bitter pill to swallow to know that if I hadn't been caught, I would have decelerated to a reasonable speed at the end of the open straight, headed home and gone about my life as usual. Now, though, I've been charged with something that's going to ruin my driving record and make my life very expensive for the next six years, when I was posing a danger to exactly nobody.

I don't regret speeding the way that I did; I think all of us can agree that, in these days of 300hp family sedans, 170kph isn't as fast as it used to be. Especially on a sportbike, you can be up to those speeds and down again in the blink of an eye (they stop even better than they go), and very safely, too, if conditions are clear and you're a competent rider. (If everyone was allowed to justify their violations this way, where would we be) I just wish that our system would shift its focus from charging people with things that are easy to convict to things that genuinely pose a threat to public safety.

Case in point: I was grocery shopping the other day and did a quick check, just for fun--I looked at the tires on the other cars in the row where I was parked. Out of the ten cars in the row, FOUR were on completely bald tires (like, exposed-cords bald). It sends a chill up my spine that these people go out and drive in the rain, or even snow, thinking that they're safe, responsible drivers, when they're really a ticking time bomb. The biggest problems on our roads are lack of vehicle maintenance (most people know nothing about even very basic automotive principles), lack of skill (it's FAR too easy to get a license, even with graduated licensing, and no instruction program provides even basic car-control techniques; just rules-of-the-road training), and lack of discipline (especially lane discipline--how hard is it to "drive on the right, pass on the left?!"); until we start addressing these things we can charge all the drivers we like with speeding and it won't do a bloody thing for road safety.

My driving record is cooked and no one is any safer as a result. The system is failing all of us miserably.

Agreed with your sentiments on the last bit. And the debate will continue................ :!:




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