I live in the UK, and was on holiday in Ontario in May when I got pulled over and charged with this offence. Of course, I'd never heard of the law - but I reckon I was driving perfectly safely, having slowed down to pass the police officer, and pulled over as far as I could within my lane to give him plenty of safety space (it was on HW11, really wide lanes). There was other traffic in the outside lanes, so I did not feel it safe to move to the outside lane.
So I was really suprised to get the ticket, and even more surprised when, having sent a letter of explanation with the challenge to the ticket, I am being asked to attend trial in August when I'm back in Canada.
I will go and fight the case if I have to - but is it likely the prosecutor will withdraw before the date? Is there anything I can do to expedite that? Should I get a lawyer, or just trust to truth, justice and the Canadian way? If anyone can point me to info on court procedures, I'd be grateful (it didn't look like the summons was sent out by a capable person - wrong name, inaccurate charge details, incomplete address).
Way to go, OPP! Make sure tourists (that spend a great deal of money in our Province) go back and spread the word about how risky it is to vacation in our "land of unique traffic laws".
I live in a city that depends heavily on tourist dollars (Stratford, Ont.) and it is well known by the locals that our police department "looks the other way" when tourists fail to legally negotiate our quirky road networks and poorly designed intersections. It's apparent that municipal police officers have the ability to see the "big picture", and ticket accordingly. The OPP could care less about the economic health of the province. They've been instructed to GET TOUGH, and they are doing it.
This "move-over" law is not common throughout the world, and yet we have the gaul to heavily fine tourists who have no way of knowing about it. If I didn't already live here, I would never come here. My dollars would be spent in a more "tourist-friendly" province (or country). Ontario drivers are currently suffering under an oppressive government and police commissioner who are aggressively ticketing "regular citizens" in a desperate (and misguided) attempt to save a few lives lost due to street racing over the past few years.
You could call the Prosecutor at the courthouse listed on the back of your ticket. Explain that you DID slow down significantly but were unable to change lanes due to traffic conditions. Express your desire to have this ticket dismissed completely. He will likely counter with an offer of a reduced charge, such as "fail to obey sign", and a reduced fine. It's up to you whether you accept his offer, or proceed to seek advice from a traffic lawyer. Personally (if I could afford it) I would deal with a local lawyer familiar with the subject court and prosecutor. He can represent you completely, and you never have to attend the court.
On behalf of Ontario, I apologize for your negative experience here. I hope you'll consider taking in a play at our world-famous Festival Theater some day. Stratford goes out of it's way to see that tourists are treated with the respect they deserve.
It is just not Ontario that has this law of move over, it is a vast majority of USA as well.
Municipal police and provincial police are the same...except the shoulder flash. OPP does police many municipal areas. Since we are provincial we are also mandated to the provincial hwys. Our local PD has it's own traffic unit (6 officers and a Sgt) and they hammer traffic all day all night...even more so than we do on the Provincial Hwy...so this statement of Municipal vs Provincial is false!
Absolutely we have been told to get tough on drivers who do not obey this law. Out of all the laws we have, this is the top one. It costs taxpayers money to replace damaged cruisers, it costs officers their lives! A police officers life is not worth a driver's 60 seconds to move over and slow down!
I treat every driver the same regardless of where the driver is from = ZERO tolerence!
hwybear wrote:...so this statement of Municipal vs Provincial is false!
My opinion is based on my own observations. I've had the pleasure of meeting about 20 different officers on the side of the road, over 30 years of driving. I have always been treated civilly by our local PD. But I have personally witnessed a total lack of self control from 3 separate OPP officers, one of which I seriously question his mental stability.
Being somewhat of a "backyard psychologist", I reason it this way: The local cops are more likely to feel "part of the community as a whole". The guy he gives a ticket to today may be in line with him at the bank tomorrow. But the OPP are likely to never see their "perps" again. It's a much less "personal" experience out there on the highways, so it's much easier to vent on some poor sap who dared to defy some statue or question some command.
hwybear wrote:I treat every driver the same regardless of where the driver is from = ZERO tolerence!
I think that's becoming the norm for most traffic enforcement officers. It's a shame. This man didn't even know about the law and yet he still slowed down and moved over to the left-most part of his lane. He felt quite certain he had taken sufficient steps to see that he provided a measure of safety that the stopped officer deserved. Personally, I think he should have been thanked, not ticketed.
And why does this law not apply to a regular citizen out there changing a flat tire on the side of the road. I guess we're not as important.
Much like the original poster of this thread, I take steps to improve safety when passing ANY stopped vehicle. So I can sympathize with him. I don't believe this is the type of driver that is plowing in to the back of cruisers on the side of the road.
On a side note: I spent a good part of Saturday on the 401 between Kitchener and Toronto. I couldn't help but notice that the right lane was frequently empty of cars! I think most folks ARE aware of this law and they have adapted by staying out of the right lane ALL TOGETHER. I found it very odd to find myself in the right lane with no cars in front of me, while the left two lanes were packed!
Bookm wrote:I couldn't help but notice that the right lane was frequently empty of cars! I think most folks ARE aware of this law and they have adapted by staying out of the right lane ALL TOGETHER. I found it very odd to find myself in the right lane with no cars in front of me, while the left two lanes were packed!
that's b/c you were driving this...
lol, imagine driving that!
Roger101 Btw, you would probably want an experienced Paralegal to advise and help you out with this ticket.
Not a lawyer, since most lawyers dont handle traffic tickets, actually none that I know of in Ontario.
Paralegals will do a great job. To be referred to a Paralegal by this site, simply fill out the form at the bottom of the page.
Good luck on your traffic ticket.
roger101, Your charge should be considered a "strict liability" offence which means your defence should be one of reasonable care. Strict liability offences cannot convict a morally innocent person. This is different than an "absolute liability" offence which does not care what excuse you have, if you broke the law then you are guilty.
Your charge under 159.1(1) of the Highway Traffic Act says you must slow down, and if possible change lanes. It sounds like you tried to do this.
Prior to trial, request disclosure. You should have a notice of trial with the address of the court where you can send a disclosure request. Ask for everything that will be used in evidence against you and, without limiting this general request, also ask for:
- a full copy of the police officers notes;
- a copy of both sides of the officers copy of the ticket (Notice of Offence);
- a typed version of any hand written notes;
- witness will say statements;
- witness statements;
- any statements made by the defendant; and
- copies of the original notes of such statements.
In order to convict you, the officer has to testify that you didn't slow down and that you didn't change lanes. Disclosure will allow you to find out what he's going to say and what you said to him (hopefully nothing). Your defence is that you believed you were slowing down and trying to change lanes. Whether you did or not is immaterial in strict liability offences.
You don't have a lot of time...August is pretty quick for a trial. Just curious, where did you get the ticket?
Being somewhat of a "backyard psychologist",
As long as you're not a "Back Door Psychologist"..........
Make sure tourists (that spend a great deal of money in our Province) go back and spread the word about how risky it is to vacation in our "land of unique traffic laws".
The officer could have exersized "Diplomatic Discression" on this one.....
Thats my 3 cents, 1 cent for GST+PST
ticketcombat wrote: Just curious, where did you get the ticket?
Thanks for the helpful replies. The incident was on Hw 11 near Huntsville, and the court is in Bracebridge.
Roger101 Btw, you would probably want an experienced Paralegal to advise and help you out with this ticket. .
What kind of fees do paralegals charge? Surely it's going to be more than just paying the $490 fine, isn't it?!
I don't know what they would charge, but it can also save you the hassle of doing all the work yourself. I think they would charge you a fair price.
You can fill out the form at the bottom of the page for a traffic ticket paralegal to contact you.
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