What is the strength of a witness?

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What is the strength of a witness?

by: ryan1524 on
Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:47 am

Hi Everyone,

I am in need of some advice and/or opinions. I'd appreciate any help you can give me.

I received an "Amber light - failure to stop" a couple days ago. Was leaving a Timmy's about 50m from an intersection. As I got on the road, the plowtruck in front of me stopped, so I changed lanes to avoid it. Unfortunately, in doing so, I was distracted from noticing the traffic light. It was yellow as I approached it at around 25-30km/h and I was too close. I decided not to stop. Unfortunately, the light turned red as I reached the other side.

The officer claimed I ran a red, and the ticket was a reduced one. But I have two passengers in the car that agreed with me otherwise.

Is this a benefit if I were to go to trial, instead of a negotiation? A paralegal I contacted didn't/couldn't advice/recommend me either way.

Thanks again.
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by: Stanton on
Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:04 am

Passengers in your vehicle can give evidence on your behalf, but they are less likely to be seen as impartial by the Courts due to possible bias. Still, if you feel they have relevant evidence to give, they can provide testimony at trial. They will be cross examined by the Crown and then the Justice of the Peace will determine the credibility of their evidence and whether they choose to accept it. This evidence will then be weighed against the evidence of the officer to reach a verdict.

I should mention that your explanation doesn't sound like much of a defence. If I understand correctly, the vehicle in front of you stops, likely for the traffic light as well, and you pull out to pass? If that's the case, it really doesn't sound like you were exercising due diligence. You failed to stop because you didn't notice the amber light in time, not because you didn't have time/distance when it first turned amber. Defence experts might have a better idea of how much mileage that will get you in Court.

The only thing you've got going in your favour is the fact that the officer charged you with an amber light offence instead of red light. Red light offences are absolute liability offences, meaning there's pretty much no excuse for doing so (you're explanation here wouldn't matter). This also helps you in that if the officer's evidence is you failed to stop for a red light, then he should have charged you with that section. He can't really prove you committed the offence that you were charged with.
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by: Radar Identified on
Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:34 pm

ryan1524 wrote:As I got on the road, the plowtruck in front of me stopped, so I changed lanes to avoid it.
Just a heads up: If you say that in court, you are toast.

"Distraction" is not a justifiable reason for failing to stop for an amber light. The two main reasons that courts have accepted for failing to stop for an amber light:

1. Driving at a reasonable speed for the conditions and was unable to safely stop
2. Driver behind was going to rear-end defendant, defendant proceeded through, tailgater ALSO proceeded through

If your witnesses are testifying to the fact that you either could not safely stop, or the light was not amber at the time, then you could win. A better option may be seeking to plea-bargain to a lesser offence like "disobey lane light" or "green light - fail to proceed as directed."
* The above is NOT legal advice. By acting on anything I have said, you assume responsibility for any outcome and consequences. *
http://www.OntarioTicket.com OR http://www.OHTA.ca
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by: ryan1524 on
Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:09 pm

Thanks for the responses.

I understand Distraction is not a good excuse. A good driver would've seen these things coming and respond accordingly. In my case, I believe that's what I've done. The light was green as I entered the road - the entrance itself was only 50m from the light. As I approached, it obviously turned yellow, but I noticed it a bit late due to the plow. In that moment:
- There was no car in front of me
- Light was yellow or just turned yellow (to me knowledge)
- There MIGHT be a car behind me
--If there was, it would've been too sudden to brake
--If there wasn't or if there was enough space to stop, by the time I braked, I would be in the intersection.

So I decided the safest way to proceed was to keep going. I realize this all probably means nothing to the court. But I'm still going to try.
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