I will be going to trial for my red light camera offence.
I'll be arguing two issues, centered on the fact that there are two essential elements of 144(18) - a) a vehicle approaching the intersection shall stop; and b) the vehicle shall not proceed until green. Both essential elements must be contravened beyond a reasonable doubt to be an offence.
1) My ticket says I (being the owner) am "charged with the offence of failing to stop at a red light on ... at 11:24 AM. However, the second photo which shows the vehicle proceeding through the intersection was taken at 11:25 AM (as indicated in the photo). The evidence shows that all essential elements of the alleged offence had not yet occurred until 11:25 AM. The offence notice is factually incorrect. At the early resolution meeting, the prosecutor disregarded this saying "the first photo is evidence enough that you failed to stop at the red light". I argued that, on its own, the first photo only shows a vehicle making an improper stop, just past the stop line. Without the second photo there is no evidence that the vehicle actually went through the red light. The first photo does not prove both essential elements. The prosecutor said that doesn't matter.
2) The ticket says "The photographs ... show the vehicle approaching the intersection..." The first photo is thus intended to show the first essential element of the offence ("Every driver approaching a traffic signal ... shall stop"). However, based on the photo, and as I have learned from the City Traffic Operations Engineer, that photo is not taken until the vehicle reaches the second set of induction loops in the road, and the second loop is right at the stop line. The photo shows my tire essentially on the line, my front bumper (not visible in the photo = reasonable doubt about the position of the vehicle?) is past the line based on measurements. In short, the vehicle is IN the intersection, or at least entering the intersection (144(5)(a)). It is certainly not "approaching" the intersection. The photographic evidence thus consists of two photos showing my vehicle IN the intersection. There is no evidence of the first element of the offence (â€œapproachingâ€). At my early resolution meeting the prosecutor responded to this by saying "well, if you want to argue semantics..." to which I said "yes, I do believe that is what court is for".
The offence notice clearly states that the charge is as per "the digitized images set forth in this notice". Well, the digitized images in the notice are 1) factually inconsistent with the charge; and 2) fail to show the first element of the offence ("approaching").
What are your thoughts on the success of either of these arguments?
(Photo details: 42 km/h (in a 50 km/h zone); Red 000.3 seconds in the first photo; Red for 001.6 seconds in the second photo.)
I'm afraid you're going down a route that others have tried and failed at. Just because the pictures do not contain all the elements of the offence does not mean that the charge is not made out. You must have approached the intersection in order to be there. And just because you cannot see the front bumper does not mean the JP cannot make an assumption where it is. It is unlikely that you vehicle has a 15 foot hood and, if it did, then you would be advised to bring details to court.
It is beyond reasonable doubt, not beyond all doubt.
@argyll, thank you for your response, that gives me something to think about.
If I could offer a couple of counter points (which is good practice for me in preparation for court, so thanks again!)... in the "Guide For Defendants in Provincial Offences Cases" it clearly states "For you to be found guilty there must be evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of each essential element of the offence." Therefore, I find it hard to accept a statement like "just because the pictures do not contain all elements of the offence does not meant that the charge is not made out." I would say that the absence of evidence showing the vehicle approaching demonstrates, at the very least, reasonable doubt about the first element. In response to "You must have approached the intersection in order to be there", well, sure. But what colour was the signal when the vehicle was approaching? That's a key part of the offence. The Prosecution cannot say beyond a reasonable doubt that the light was red when the vehicle was truly approaching because there simply isn't any evidence that shows that (beyond a reasonable doubt).
Aside, if the red light camera system wanted to show beyond a reasonable doubt that it was red when approaching, the sensors would be moved further back in the road so that the camera is triggered when the light is red and the vehicle is a few metres back from the stop line (and obviously still approaching). Instead, the system is set up to catch as many possible (emphasis on "possible") violations as they can by placing the sensors right at the line, i.e. to maximize revenue. It is not set up to identify offences beyond a reasonable doubt.
On another note, how about the inconsistency of the time of the charge (11:24 AM) vs. the photo evidence that shows it occurring at 11:25 AM? What are the chances of the ticket being quashed on that basis? I would argue that the ticket is either a) factually incorrect (which it is), or b) demonstrates an inaccuracy or problem with clock synchronization of the camera system. Either way, how could they argue "well, it's allowed to have that bit of information incorrect". To which I would argue, "where do you draw the line on which information has to be correct and which does not?".
Again, thanks for the response, if anything, these counter arguments give me practice to formulate a case to present to the court.
I do think you are failing to see the woods for the individual trees you are looking at. One minute isn't going to be considered enough for a quash.
On the other issue you are asking the JP to effectively cancel every such ticket in the province or to dig up roads to move the coils. It just isn't going to happen. For a second, imagine that they did.....the crown would have to appeal. It's going to get very time consuming and expensive. Transcripts will cost way more than the original ticket. You run the risk of turning this into a crusade.
@argyll, thanks for your replies, I appreciate the counter points to consider.
It's true that I'm being narrowly focused on the details of my particular offence, and while that may be clouding my view of the situation, I do think that the details matter when applying the law.
Please do let us know how it goes. Few do, but it is much appreciated.
Court date is in August... I'll post the outcome.
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