Made an improper right turn, but got a red light ticket

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kend7510
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Made an improper right turn, but got a red light ticket

Unread post by kend7510 on

Hi all, I have a question regarding a ticket I got yesterday afternoon. I intend to take this to court, so I'm asking about what sort of defense strategy(s) I should employ, and I appreciate any help that I can get. I will include as much detail as possible, so imminent walls of text. TL:DR version is at the end. I apologize if I am asking questions too early as I have not gotten a trial date nor any disclosure yet, but I am just seeking ways to put my mind more at ease.

Description of Incident

I was on highway 404 southbound exiting on Finch Avenue East. The right turn lane (to Finch Ave E westbound) splits off the other two left turn lanes about 10 meters before the intersection, where the off ramp ends and there are no "go straight" lanes (for lack of better term). Here is the google map view of the incident area.

I was supposed to be making a right turn (going westbound), but I made a mistake and realized too late that I am in the wrong lane (I thought the middle lane would be bi-direction like in some other off ramps; I don't normally exit the highway here). I tried to merge into the right lane but was not able to due to traffic, so upon approaching the light I made a right turn in the middle lane. To my immediate right is a curb/divider that divides the lane with the right turn lane.

Right before I made the turn I noticed the light turned to amber, but I decided I could make it, and after a quick left-right-left check to make sure there is no car approaching (there shouldn't be as the light on east-west was red) and no pedestrian (there shouldn't be as there's no crossing) I made the right turn. To the best of my knowledge the light was still amber when I made the turn.

After I made the turn, I noticed in my rear view mirror a police vehicle made a u-turn (from east bound around to west bound) and turned on the siren. The police vehicle ended up two cars behind me (one car between me and him), but I believe he was trying to pull me over as I just made an improper right turn, so I pulled over.

The officer first informed me that I am being recorded and the car has a dash camera. He then said I should not be making the right turn on that lane, and the light was red. I believe I made the turn while the light was amber but I did not want to argue with the officer so I just said "ok", and handed him my license, ownership, and insurance information. After about 10-15 minutes the office came back with the ticket, and reiterated that he is writing the ticket because the light was red and I made the right turn on the wrong lane, again I said "ok" and he went back to his car. After examining the ticket I noticed that the ticket was for section 144(18) Red Light - Fail To Stop. (Also, the ticket was on a piece of white fax-like paper instead of yellow paper; this is probably not relevant but including this just in case. Could this mean the officer is not normally on traffic duty and may be easier to "trip up" during cross-examination?)

Here is section 144(18) which I am charged for:
Red light
(18) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular red indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle and shall not proceed until a green indication is shown. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (18).
And its exception:
Exception – turn
(19) Despite subsection (18) and subject to subsection (14), a driver, after stopping his or her vehicle and yielding the right of way to traffic lawfully approaching so closely that to proceed would constitute an immediate hazard, may,
(a) turn to the right; or
(b) turn to the left from a one-way street into a one-way street,
without a green indication being shown. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (19).
I realize the exception could not apply to me because I did not come to a complete stop before making the turn (only slowed to observe traffic), as the light was ember.

Thoughts
Obviously the situation is less than ideal because red light ticket has a higher fine and demerit points than an improper right turn charge. I am mostly worried that it will impact my insurance premium way more as running a red light is major offense, and I have had one accident claim already (single vehicle, skid on black ice and hit ice block).

Here are my thoughts and questions for possible defense strategy; obviously I will have to get a trial date first and then request for disclosure in order to formulate a more concrete plan, but I just want an idea of what I should be preparing/expecting.

1. This is the approximate location of where the office is when he observed the infraction. He was on the left lane and was the first car on the lane (according to my passenger, I did not see him). When I made the turn I know for sure the light on east-west was still red. So he had to be looking at my traffic light (turn his head to the right), saw it red, and then turn his head to the left to observe me making the turn. If during cross examination he said that he saw me turn and then notice the light was red, I could argue that it was possible the light turned red in the time he turned his head to observe the light. I will know exactly what he saw after disclosure. Is this strategy valid?

2. The officer mentioned I was being recorded and the car has a dash camera. If I can obtain the dash camera footage during disclosure, I can know exactly whether the light was red or amber when I made the turn, or if the light was possible to clearly observe from his angle. However, if prosecution simply said the dash cam was not running or for whatever other reason does not turn it over, is there anything I can do?

3. The officer could simply be too sure of his version of the truth, and just write down in his notes, or testify that he saw the red light and then saw me turn without stopping. Or, the dash camera footage could actually show that the light was indeed red when I made the turn. In that case, is there anything at all I can do? Can I argue that there was no imminent collision (or get the office to testify to that effect) and it was a safe turn to make, and it was legal to make a right turn with a red light(long shot I know)? Also, would asking for a dash cam footage hurt my chances for a plea bargain for a lesser charge?

Finally, TL:DR version of this long post:
1. Made a right turn when going off highway on a left turn only lane; got pulled over.
2. Was charged for running a red light instead of improper right turn, which has more serious consequences in terms of fines, demerit points, and insurance premium increase. I am only 80% sure the light was amber when I made the turn.
3. Intend to take this to trial and asking for possible defense strategy. My ideas include:
a) Clarifying what the officer observed and in what sequence; if he saw me turn first and then saw the red light I could argue the light turned red after I made the turn and before he turned his head to see.
b) Get the dash cam footage to see if he was able to clearly observe the incident and if I did run the red light.
c) Worst case scenario evidence somehow clearly shows the light was red when I made the right turn, argue that I had observed traffic before the turn and it was safe. Right turn with a red light is legal after yield to traffic. Since I was not charged for improper right turn can I just argue for the red light portion of this incident? I understand this is a very long shot because I am clearly breaking a law.

Thanks in advance for assistance.


Stanton
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Unread post by Stanton on

Failing to stop for a red light should be considered a minor offence. The impact on your insurance would be no different then if you'd been charged with improper turn, etc.

In terms of your defence you'll obviously want to review the officer's notes and dash video if available. Raising reasonable doubt that the light wasn't red obviously becomes quite difficult if the offence is clearly shown on video.

If the video does clearly show you running a red light, I would not suggest proceeding with any type of argument that your actions were done in a safe manner. Trying to downplay or justify illegal actions in Court tends to backfire. Failing to stop for a red light is an absolute liability offence anyhow. The Court is only interested in whether you stopped or not, not the reasoning behind it or if you thought it was safe.


kend7510
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Unread post by kend7510 on

Thank you Stanton. I agree with what you said. If the dash cam footage clearly shows my offence (that I remembered wrong and the light was amber), then I would have no defence and would be better of just take any plea deal if offered.

I think it is more likely that the crown does not produce the video evidence, since I understand getting proper disclosure especially video is quite difficult, and simply have the officer testify that he saw the light red and I turn. Is there a way to properly challenge what the officer reads from his notes in court?
My ideas include: (See approximate angle of officer >>>here<<<. He was first car in left lane)
1) Hard to observe my light being red from his angle;
2) Impossible to observe both (light red and turn) at the same time since one is way to the left and one is way to the right;
3) If he saw the light red first (with his head turned to the right), then he could have missed seeing me come to a complete stop.

Or, can I request the video evidence must be give to me as the officer did tell me that I was being recorded and police car has dash cam? And if this process drag on for too long ask for a 11b stay? What is the officer does not remember saying that or does not write down that exchange in his notes?

It's reassuring that red light is only a minor offence. I thought I read somewhere on a ticket combat website that it is a major offence.


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bobajob
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Unread post by bobajob on

Suppose a, emergency responder, fire, para/police instrcutred you to jump a redlight to give them way

say they are behind you with there blues and two's on and your at a red light?

cheers
Stanton wrote:Failing to stop for a red light is an absolute liability offence anyhow. The Court is only interested in whether you stopped or not, not the reasoning behind it or if you thought it was safe.
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* NO you cant touch your phone
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bend
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Unread post by bend on

bobajob wrote:Suppose a, emergency responder, fire, para/police instrcutred you to jump a redlight to give them way
The only defense to an absolute liability offense would be an emergency situation. I don't think anyone is giving out tickets during that kind of scenario, anyways.


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bobajob
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Unread post by bobajob on

cool,
I have heard of it done, but in the UK, and usually by a red light camera,
cars move out of the way or into a junction to let a emerg veh through and gets snapped

but, txs for the feedback
cool
bend wrote:
bobajob wrote:Suppose a, emergency responder, fire, para/police instrcutred you to jump a redlight to give them way
The only defense to an absolute liability offense would be an emergency situation. I don't think anyone is giving out tickets during that kind of scenario, anyways.




--------------------------------------------------------------
* NO you cant touch your phone
* Speeding is speeding
* Challenge every ticket
* Impaired driving, you should be locked up UNDER the jail


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