Red Light - Fail to Stop (But it was definitely Amber!)

Sanxioned
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Red Light - Fail to Stop (But it was definitely Amber!)

by: Sanxioned on
Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:03 am

Hi all,

I was perusing this site after being given my first ever road-side ticket tonight around 9 PM.

I was in Toronto, Scarborough, Sandhurst Circle, turning (right) west onto Finch. The light was definitely amber, and I completed my turn. However, an officer facing Eastbound on Finch immediately pulled a 3 point turn, hit his lights, and pulled me over. He claimed I had failed to stop at the red light. I very confusedly asked if it wasn't an Amber light. He looked up, seeming honestly a bit confused himself, and said "no. It was Red." He then gave me the ticket for 325 dollars total.

My issue is mainly just that I *know* it was amber. Even the pedestrian beacon was indicating 4 seconds remaining AFTER I had begun my turn. There were 2 vehicles between myself and the officer, he was in the far right lane facing East; I'm unsure how he was able to make that call with such an obstructed view. I'm sure the officer's dashcam will show that there were two vehicles clearly blocking his line of sight, therefore making his understanding of MY vehicle's movements a bit hazy. Regardless, I feel like, if anything, I could be charged with the lesser offense (cost-wise) of the Fail To Stop - Amber Light.

However, I also feel that because of the snowy conditions of the road (I took a picture afterwards of the ground), it would have been unsafe for me to just stop - I may have skidded into the intersection and been awkwardly in both lanes, hence making my turn on an amber light reasonable (??) . I should note (not that this will matter I suppose) that there were no pedestrians and no vehicles coming westbound either (at any notable distance at least).

I'm wondering how I might fight this case or if I should even bother at all. Time isn't a factor for me because my work schedule is flexible. I understand a possible Amber light infraction, but this Red light infraction is absurd. If ANYTHING, the light turned red AFTER 7/8ths of my vehicle were in the lane. Does that still count as a Red Light - Fail to Stop?

Do I have anything in particular to lose, apart from my time, by going to trial? I'm actually a bit confused as to how this whole process works. I visited ticketcombat and it did clarify a few things. I'm planning on going to the court on Monday morning to request a trial and in general, ask some questions. In some other posts here and on redflag, I've seen different opinions on requesting disclosure as well. Some say that by requesting disclosure, you ensure the police officer will show up. Others seemed to say if you don't, you risk going in without full knowledge of the case against you. I personally think seeing the video footage will clarify a lot for me, mainly about the officer's line of sight.

One curious thing... after our interaction ended, I turned back onto the circle (https://goo.gl/maps/Yi0Ok) from McCowan road (northbound) and the officer followed me. I continued on until I reached the SAME intersection where the incident occurred. This time I made sure to fully ultra mega stop before turning. The officer didnt follow and waited for green to continue straight ahead. I'm wondering if he did this just to return to his route or if he did it so his camera can confirm something in case I take it to trial.

Any suggestions?, I'm really quite scared of this but I don't want to buckle and plead guilty when I'm not. Thanks for reading and for any replies.


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by: highwaystar on
Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:48 am

If you know it was amber, then simply do the following:

1) Request a trial on the ticket and submit it (within 15 days of the offence date);
2) When you get your Notice of Trial in the mail, immediately request full disclosure from the prosecution about your case, especially the officer's notes and video (if any exists). If video does exist, they will let you come in to their office to view it;
3) Thoroughly review the evidence to see if you can raise reasonable doubt
4) Go to your trial date and don't accept any deal. They may offer you for failing to stop for the amber, but its not an included offence to the actual charge you're facing (fail to stop for the red). So, they know its an all or nothing for them. They have to prove that you were facing a red light before you were on the stop bar or intersection and you didn't stop. Hard to do without evidence of that specific red light and you at the intersection!
5) Plead not guilty at trial.
6) They'll therefore call the officer as the witness. After they are done examining him, politely cross-examine him on his/her location, whether they were in motion, whether they were keeping an eye out for their own light, pedestrians, car speed, road conditions, etc. In other words, walk them through the minutia of how many other distractions they would also be faced with.
7) If you really point out all the inconsistencies (review this site and case law for many other examples), you should be able to be acquitted.

In these type of offences, unless the officer is stationary (specifically watching the intersection) or facing the same direction as the accused, then a lot of reasonable doubt can be created so the success rate is usually quite good.


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by: Sanxioned on
Sat Feb 07, 2015 6:36 pm

Thanks for your input Highwaystar, much appreciated!

I'm actually strangely looking forward to this event (some of my students know a little about it and are eager to learn how this all works too).

As it stands right now, I'll be following what you've said: file for Trial, await Notice of Trial, immediately file a Request for Disclosure (using the far more specific request form available at ticketcombat) and await the Disclosure package.

Do you have any idea how long the police/crown will let me review the material for, particularly the video footage? Is there a particular document that outlines how officers *ought* to be positioned when monitoring an intersection? I'll have to do some serious Googling. If there is such a document, perhaps I'll request to see it in my Disclosure package. I mean, if there's something that explicitly states that for best results or most accurate results they should be facing me or be behind me, then I think violating that would reveal a lack of credibility + the officer's own footage, which I am very sure will show his Line of Sight was clearly obstructed.

I've also been reading a lot of different results of what happens if the officer doesn't show up. Some posts seem to say the charge will be dismissed or withdrawn right away, and others are suggesting it's more likely to be adjourned for a better date. If it is adjourned, I should be able to claim that I made extreme exceptions to my own schedule and livelihood to be there for the trial and it's unfair to assume I can repeatedly make these exceptions, especially given however long the wait will be in the first place.

Still, I'm not banking on the cop not showing, on disclosure being denied, or having a court date that's 12+ months away to wiggle out of this. Hopefully, if this makes it to the Trial phase, I'll be able to hold my own. Life experience, eh? I'll update this thread as the process moves forward.


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by: iFly55 on
Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:14 pm

Generally they will give you all the time that you need to review the footage. You're not watching a feature film, the alleged offence will take place within a couple of seconds. You're most likely just going to view it and take notes. Some jurisdictions give you a USB key or a CD with the video on it, and give you instructions on how to play it.

Usually officers have to verify the the traffic lights are operating correctly. They just need line of sight not only to your vehicle's rims/wheels but also to the traffic light you're facing. It's pretty simple, they look at the light then look at you and check to see if you come to a complete stop behind the marked white stop line / crosswalk / edge of intersection (whichever is applicable).

Google wouldn't really help you, you're better off searching for cases on CanLII. You're inferring that you're a professor/teacher, then you may have access to LexisNexis if you teach at a University or are an Alumni. There are a lot more cases there that you can absorb.

I don't believe the crown has the police's operating procedure for red light right turn enforcement; but it doesn't hurt to ask; you'll most likely have to make a Freedom of Information Request at the officer's department. You can also look up cases of whether that information was disclosed. Keep in mind FOI requests are expensive, and not free like crown disclosure requests.

Generally the courts could go two ways about it all, I've been to court where the prosecutor made the case that it was my choice to self-represent myself. If my time and money were so important, I could have had counsel represent me. Busy jurisdictions like Toronto will not adjourn the matter for an officer no-show.


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by: Sanxioned on
Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:33 am

Thanks for your comment iFly, particularly about the FOI. I probably won't go that far to be honest, but after I review the material I'll be able to make a better call about what I do and don't need.

I went to the 1530 Markham Road courthouse today around 9:50 AM. Only took about 10 minutes to submit my NOI. Now I just have to wait four months to receive the trial date, hah! I'll have to use the time to look up useful cases on CanLII.


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by: Stanton on
Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:16 pm

In regards to the TicketCombat disclosure request form, keep in mind most of what it lists simply doesn’t exist in your matter (i.e. witness statements, criminal records, etc.). The only two things you should expect to receive are copy of the officer’s notes and a copy of the video (should it exist). If upon receiving the notes you find they’re illegible or indecipherable, it would also be appropriate to request a typed copy.

I’m also not sure how beneficial a FOI request would be. While many police departments might have policies regarding traffic enforcement, it would mainly deal with general safety guidelines (i.e. wearing reflective vests when out in traffic) and wouldn’t go into specifics regarding where the officer must specifically be positioned, etc.


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by: Sanxioned on
Tue Aug 04, 2015 5:16 pm

Hi all,

Just an update on my case. I got my disclosure information, the officer's notes today. It was surprisingly easy. I just walked into the courthouse with my request letter and they stamped my copy, and within moments gave me the notes printed. There was no video/audio evidence apparently.

Here's the notes:
"[My vehicle info]
i was positioned in left turn lane of eb finch ave
traffic signal controlling eb finch av had just turned green
observed above vehicle in sb lane of sandhurst in right lane
vehicle approached and entered intersection and made right turn onto wb finch without stopping
vehicle stopped on mccowan rd without losing sight
driver identified with valid ont dl with photo
observed traffic signals for two cycles and found them to be working properly"

I'm in a total rut now. A good part of my defense was to point out that the officer was actually in the right lane, not the left turn lane (it's a really small lane) and that there was indeed a vehicle blocking his vision of me. This assumes, of course, that he would tell the truth under oath. But here, he claims he was in the left turn lane, which would mean there's no obstruction.

Ultimately, I approached the intersection as the light turned amber, not red, and it turned red after close to half my vehicle entered the intersection.

I noticed that he did not make any comments about lighting or weather (it was snowy, I have pictures) and so I'm wondering ifI can use this to cast doubt on the officer's recollections.

I really want to expose that he was not where he claimed to be. But it won't be enough to just say "well you're wrong, officer!" obviously.

Thanks for any advice you got!


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by: bend on
Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:06 am

Sanxioned wrote:I noticed that he did not make any comments about lighting or weather (it was snowy, I have pictures) and so I'm wondering ifI can use this to cast doubt on the officer's recollections.

I really want to expose that he was not where he claimed to be. But it won't be enough to just say "well you're wrong, officer!" obviously.
I'm not sure what argument you're implying here.

(a) Whether or not the officers recollection of the forecast somehow makes his notes questionable or;
(b) a previous argument you'd mentioned about how snowy roads would have made it safer for you to continue rather than stopping.

I don't think the officers recollection of the forecast is going to have much relevance in proving he was not where he said he was.

Also, you're expected to drive accordingly based on the road conditions.


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by: Sanxioned on
Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:58 pm

Thanks, Bend. Fair enough. I was just wondering if failure to recollect these sorts of details would possibly be enough to make his observations doubtful in the eyes of a Justice of the Peace. I've been perusing posts here and read through ticketcombat's advice and such, and it seems like a very common piece of advice is that, ultimately, a defendant's purpose is to expose a reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case, i.e. the officer's testimony.

It did sound a bit silly to me that an officer's failure to recollect what someone was wearing, for example, would have any bearing on his capacity to remember the incident in question...

I suppose, really, if he sticks to his guns and says he was in that left lane, I don't have much. Part of me does feel that he didn't mean left "turn" lane, but just the "left" lane.


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by: jsherk on
Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:13 am

In cross-examination, you can certainly question the officer on where he was, but if he says he was in the left lane then you have no way to prove otherwise. And how do you prove his view was obstructed? Again you can ask him but if he says no it was not, then you are sunk. And was it snowing so hard that visibility was reduced to the point of being hard to see all the way across the intersection?

Cross-examination is the time to try and show errors/problems with the officers testimony, but you would need to show a lot of errors or serious errors before it would cast enough reasonable doubt to make a difference.

Was it snowy enough that you felt you were going to slide to a stop in the intersection so decided to continue? This might be a defense you could try.

Also you have this: "traffic signal controlling eb finch av had just turned green" so the officer testifies here that EB lights turned green but does not mention anything about SB lights or WB lights for that matter, so how does the officer know for sure that the SB was red and/or WB was green when you made the turn. So a good point to bring up in closing argument would be that the officer never testified that your light (the SB light) was red as his notes only state EB light was green. Now if he DOES testify to this when he is in the witness box, then you should object immediately because it is not in his notes. But otherwise you do NOT want to ask him any questions about it because if you ask him about it, then he might say "oh yes, it was red" and then you just lost your advantage.

Of course he comments later "observed traffic signals for two cycles and found them to be working properly" but does not make any notes as to what exactly "properly" means.

If you are sure it was amber, then you could get on the stand and testify and just say exactly what you said above "I know it was amber. Even the pedestrian beacon was indicating 4 seconds remaining AFTER I had begun my turn." I would NOT mention the part about you asking officer if it was amber and he said it was red... that part will not help you.

So the two things you have going for you (which are not a guarantee you will win) are: (1) The officer does not say in his notes that he actually saw your light as being red, and (2) your testimony that the light was amber and pedestrian walk still had 4 seconds on it.

So these two things combined MIGHT be enough to bring reasonable doubt.
+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++


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by: iFly55 on
Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:19 pm

Correct me if i'm wrong, I've only ever seen traffic lights change to amber once the pedestrian beacon is at zero.

HTA requires drivers to stop when there is an Amber Light. How can pedestrians have another 4s to cross? Most amber lights for lower speed roadways would be 3s long.

http://www.toronto.ca/311/knowledgebase ... 39636.html

I can only hazard a guess the 4s beacon was something you may have seen approaching the intersection.

I think the crown will be looking for Red Light conviction, whether they change that to an Amber Light during the trial is still possible.

I don't believe the snowy conditions is a due diligence defence. Black Ice, Tractor Trailer blowing his air horn advising you to clear the intersection or you're about to get rear-ended.

If you can visually see deteriorate weather conditions, you should be driving at a speed that will allow you to safely stop. Telling the courts coming to a stop would not be safe, implies you were driving too fast for the conditions.

This case will hinge on your version of events versus the officers. Whoever is the most credible witness, will get the favoured result.

Generally, officers are only allowed to use their notes to refresh their memory; they should have an independent recollection of what took place. Him not writing in his notes that he saw the lights that you were facing, is not fatal to the crown's case. He still saw green lights and returned to the intersection to see if all the light cycles were functioning correctly.

Keep in mind the crown will also be cross-examining the officer as well. So they might ask whether he saw the light you were facing, and what colour it was.


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by: hecubus on
Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:48 pm

iFly55 wrote:Correct me if i'm wrong, I've only ever seen traffic lights change to amber once the pedestrian beacon is at zero.
Exactly; every traffic light controlled intersection I've encountered, when the pedestrian count down (or flashing red hand) reaches zero (or becomes a solid red hand), the light changes from green to amber.


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by: bend on
Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:00 pm

jsherk wrote:Was it snowy enough that you felt you were going to slide to a stop in the intersection so decided to continue? This might be a defense you could try.
I'd disagree. It's not a defense and the poster should avoid going down this route. This is the "I was speeding because the person behind me was too close, therefore safety" defense.

In that example, you'd pull to the side and let the person pass. That's the safest solution.

If the roads are covered in snow and creates conditions that make it harder to drive, then you drive according to those conditions. That's the safest solution.


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by: Sanxioned on
Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:24 pm

About the beacon, yes I should have clarified that it was counting down as I approached the intersection and turned yellow while turning, after the beacon hit zero. I only mentioned it to point out that I wasn't approaching a stale Amber, in which case it could have totally turned red and I'd surely be at fault for not stopping.

I only mention the road condition because its the conditions that had me inching through rather than just proceeding at regular turning speeds. I feel that *after* my vehicle turned into the lane at least 80 percent, then the Amber turned red.

Though, I suppose the prosecution could just argue that regardless of how much of my car was in the other lane already before the light turned red, I should have stopped? Even if I was well through the EB/WB crosswalk?

I'm not saying I stopped when I didn't; I know I didn't stop, but my charge is not stopping for a red light but the light was not red at the time of my turn, before I entered the intersection and executed the turn.


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by: Sanxioned on
Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:34 am

Hey all, I noticed this thread had over 700 views so I figure I should update it!

So I had my trial today, and I was the only person on the roster to plead not guilty. It was strange watching everyone leave until it was just me and my cop. He had 3 other people there challenging tickets. In retrospect I should have used that fact to raise some doubts!

Anyway, I totally fumbled when it came to the court procedures. I was under the impression that after my testimony (I testified because I wholeheartedly believe I'm innocent and bc the precedent case I found involves the defendant testifying) I would be able to "mount my defence". I had weather reports, photos, the other case, all things I intnded to use --- but then I was stopped and told I couldnt do that now. So we entered the submissions phase and I basically said I believe my questions have pointed out some errors (the officers notes didnt match what he said in some areas, for example). The prosecutor pointed out that the officer's notes were solid, that his story was clear and crisp compared to mine.

Honestly at that point I thought the Justice had come up with his decision of guilty. Instead, he said he needed time to deliberate the case. BUUUT I won't know the judgment until January! Is this normal? I like to think I *at least* gave him something to think about.

What a strangely neat experience lol. Pretty sure I lost, regardless though! Now to go buy a dash cam!


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