RLC Ticket in Ottawa - Very Snowy Day!

MHero
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RLC Ticket in Ottawa - Very Snowy Day!

Unread post by MHero on

Hi,

I'm new here. There is some very interesting reading in this forum. As you'd expect I got a red light camera ticket back in the winter, January 5, to be exact. The weather at the time was extremely snowy. There is snow and ice all over the roads and my car in the photos. It is clearly very slippery. I was photographed at the white line entering the intersection 0.2 seconds after the light had turned. In fact, the average human reaction time is slightly more than this. I would literally have been incapable of braking upon seeing the light turn. Anyway, the photos are clear and I don't think there is much point disputing them. My court date is in a few days I am wondering what my best options are for either getting the fine reduced or thrown out entirely given I would have slid right through the intersection had I slammed on my brakes?

I am a grad student so money is extremely tight! I was driving my mom's car at the time. Any advice would be appreciated.


Stanton
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Unread post by Stanton on

As it’s an absolute liability offence, the weather conditions aren't a defence. You're expected to drive slower in icy conditions so that you can stop if needed. You can see if the Crown will offer you any type of plea deal. You might be able to get your fine reduced by half. You can also make submissions upon being found guilty to the Justice of the Peace regarding your fine. They may reduce it further (unlikely) but they can give you several months to pay.


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Unread post by Decatur on

And Amber lights are generally set for a minimum of four seconds which leaves plenty of time to stop in even poor conditions.


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Unread post by MHero on

Thanks for your comments. I have a possible response that I'd like you to consider.

The time of the amber light was 3 seconds at the intersection. A simple calculation based on my speed and position at the time of the photo puts my car at 39 metres away from the entrance to the intersection at the time the light turned amber.

The safe stopping distance using a thinking time of 1.5 seconds, dry roads and my speed puts the vehicle stopping distance at approximately 31 metres (the mass of the vehicle was not included in the calculation and I used an online calculator.) As you can see this is not a huge difference. We can assume that 31 metres would constitute the "point of no return" as outlined in the Ontario Driver's Handbook, which states on the yellow light "you must stop if you can do so safely; otherwise, go with caution." In icy conditions the estimated addition to safe stopping times can be up to 10 times and my photos show that it was extremely icy. Therefore, at 39 metres from the intersection at the time the light turned amber I was already well within the safe stopping distance in icy conditions. Had I tried to stop it is likely I would have skidded through the intersection, hit a nearby pedestrian and other vehicles. I maintain, based on this, that I actually made the safe decision in this instance and was simply on the wrong side of the white line by 0.2 seconds.

Thoughts on this line of reasoning?


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Unread post by Stanton on

I’m not sure what speed you’re using to calculate the stopping distance, but the Crown would simply argue you were going too fast. When weather conditions deteriorate, you’re expected to slow to a speed that would have allowed you to safely stop, even if that means you’re travelling well below the speed limit. If the conditions were unforeseen (i.e. oil spill on an otherwise clear road) it might be more understandable, but when the weather has obviously deteriorated you can’t argue it was unexpected.

Regardless, such arguments are a moot point. As mentioned above, failing to stop for a red light is what’s known as an absolute liability offence. Most HTA offences are strict liability offences, where you could try your above argument and say that you were driving with due diligence and took reasonable steps to avoid committing the offence. With an absolute liability offence however, the Courts are only looking at IF you committed the offence. Weather, stopping distances are all irrelevant. Basically your only defence is to try and disprove the Crown’s case (i.e. error on ticket, faulty red light camera, etc.).


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Unread post by Radar Identified on

Agree with Stanton. The Prosecutor will say you failed to sufficiently adjust your speed for the conditions. All of those calculations are not going to help, because the Prosecutor and JP will ask "why weren't you going slower?" One of the measures that the courts accept and use is that if you are unable to stop for a red light due to speed/distance from the traffic light, your speed was too fast. Simple as that.

And yes, this type argument has been tried in various forms many hundreds of times before. I've seen it used and it didn't work. You're going to have to look at another angle. If the Prosecutor is mildly sympathetic they might offer you a reduced fine for that case, but they won't withdraw the charge and I doubt that a JP would be convinced.

Sorry...
* 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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Unread post by MHero on

Thank you so much for your responses. I appreciate the advice a lot. I am in court tomorrow and plan on telling my story. Hopefully I can get a reduced fine. Is there any way I can speak to the prosecutor today or before the trial and see if they would be willing to be lenient in this instance?


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Unread post by daggx on

It is probably too late to get in touch with them today, but you can almost certainly talk to them before court tomorrow. Prosecutors will very often talk to people before court starts and work out deals where people agree to plead guilty in exchange for a lower fine.


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Unread post by orcrowing on

While probably not specifically related to this case, would there be an argument if the amber light time is below the "minimum" time. I believe I read online that the minimum recommended time is 3.3 seconds for a 50km/h road.

Would the city hold some liability if they are timing their ambers below whatever professional recommendation exists? The cynic in me says that changing the amber times on a few key intersections (read: the ones with cameras) even by only half a second would increase tax revenue greatly - not only despicable and unsafe, but would also, in my opinion, would open up the city to the argument that "your amber light was too short, therefore being in the intersection 0.2 seconds after the light changed to red was reasonable and unavoidable, and not in fact illegal until x time had elapsed as per the recommendation of *insert body of great amber light knowledge*. The city would then need to respond as to why their ambers are shorter than recommended - might even open up the absolute liability debate on this one.

If this was westbound Catherine at Bank st I can attest that that amber has always "seemed" way too short. Shorter than the light at O'connor or Lyon for sure.

Thoughts?


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Unread post by iFly55 on

@orcrowing, lawfully you have to come to a complete stop on an amber light. It's only when you're not able to stop safely (ie. skidding, lose traction, no ABS) that you can proceed through.

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statut ... uote]Amber light
(15) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular amber indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely, otherwise he or she may proceed with caution. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (15).[/quote]http://www.ontariohighwaytrafficact.com/post18159.html
hwybear wrote:Timing - Minimum Interval Timing

LIGHT - desirable minimum seconds - acceptable minimum seconds
- amber 2.0 seconds - 1.5 seconds
- all red 1.0 second - 1.0 second


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Unread post by MHero on

I have another question. Is there any chance that I could make a defence of necessity in this instance? i.e. Had I stopped suddenly and skidded I would have possibly hit a nearby pedestrian? Therefore, it was necessary for me to proceed through the intersection? I realize that in order to mount this defence there must be no reasonable legal alternative to what I did, which in this case would have been stopping. However, as I stated above, stopping in the space I had, given the conditions, would have been impossible. I don't mean to belabour the point. I understand that they will ask why I wasn't going slower on the day as has been clearly stated already. However, I am not sure that this is relevant given that I was travelling 47 km/hr and that fact does not change the possible outcome of me going into a skid and potentially hitting a pedestrian, which is why it was necessary for me to avoid a skid at all costs.

By the way in the interest of full disclosure I was on King Edward Ave in Ottawa and the red light camera is at the intersection of St. Andrew St. The speed limit, I was shocked to learn earlier today, is 40. This is surprising because it is a 6-lane road and is a major artery in downtown. By the way, the incident was over 6 months ago.


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Unread post by orcrowing on

iFly55 wrote:@orcrowing, lawfully you have to come to a complete stop on an amber light. It's only when you're not able to stop safely (ie. skidding, lose traction, no ABS) that you can proceed through.
Right, and I understand what the law says (although my concern has always been whether or not the guy behind me can stop safely if I brake too aggressively, not any of the other issues that you mention)

I am blown away that the minimums are as low as they are. 50 km/hr is about 14 m/s, so the government expects everybody to be able to decelerate at better than 9 m/s (and that's without any reaction time) - There isn't a hope in hell that most people are able to. I doubt most cars would be able to - Trucks are certainly not. The post by hwybear doesn't mention any accounting for speed limits when calculating amber lights - Anyone know?

I found the website I referred to earlier, referencing ITE recommendations (not minimums, I guess)

http://web.ncf.ca/bf250/lights.html


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Unread post by iFly55 on

MHero wrote:I have another question. Is there any chance that I could make a defence of necessity in this instance? i.e. Had I stopped suddenly and skidded I would have possibly hit a nearby pedestrian? Therefore, it was necessary for me to proceed through the intersection? I realize that in order to mount this defence there must be no reasonable legal alternative to what I did, which in this case would have been stopping. However, as I stated above, stopping in the space I had, given the conditions, would have been impossible. I don't mean to belabour the point. I understand that they will ask why I wasn't going slower on the day as has been clearly stated already. However, I am not sure that this is relevant given that I was travelling 47 km/hr and that fact does not change the possible outcome of me going into a skid and potentially hitting a pedestrian, which is why it was necessary for me to avoid a skid at all costs.

By the way in the interest of full disclosure I was on King Edward Ave in Ottawa and the red light camera is at the intersection of St. Andrew St. The speed limit, I was shocked to learn earlier today, is 40. This is surprising because it is a 6-lane road and is a major artery in downtown. By the way, the incident was over 6 months ago.
This is absolutely not helping your case. If the posted limit was 40 km/h, and in what you described as deteriorate weather conditions... you were speeding +7 km/h.

This is where the necessity defence also falls apart, the reasonable legal alternative would have been to drive at or well below the limit. The collision with the pedestrian can't be foreseeable or likely. It must be near and unavoidable. If by braking you were going to lose control of your vehicle, you were already going too fast.

Believe me, everyone here wants to help you but you were simply going too fast for the conditions. Your best case here is to get a reduced fine and extra time to pay; if you have financial hardship, the courts in some cases can hand down suspended sentences ($0 fine). At Old City Hall in Toronto a defendant showed up and said he was unemployed with three kids and walked away with $0 fine.


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Unread post by MHero on

Thank you all for your responses. I do believe that everyone is trying to help and I sincerely appreciate it. I was just trying to understand how I might best proceed in the case of an absolute liability offence, which as I have learned from this forum, is what I am dealing with. I will be trying to speak to the prosecutor and get a reduction to my ticket. However, in the off chance that he/she won't play ball I felt that I needed to be prepared with a backup plan.

I will say one last thing however, and that is that regardless of speed slamming the brakes on in icy conditions is a good way to get into trouble. I may not have skidded or I may have. There is no way to know the outcome of that scenario with certainty. Therefore, at the time I felt it was safer to proceed with caution than potentially enter a more dangerous situation.


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Unread post by argyll on

That is why you drive at a speed that allows you to react to situations ahead without having to slam on the brakes. You may have to for a kid that runs out onto the road but you were aware that you were approaching a traffic light and that it had the potential to turn on you, therefore it was your responsibility to be able to stop in time.




Former Ontario Police Officer. Advice will become less relevant as the time goes by !


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