Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

lremi
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Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

Unread post by lremi »

Got two very heavy tickets -- for failing to stop for a school bus, and for using a handheld device. Was running late in a morning rush traffic in Toronto and apparently passed a school bus on the opposite side w/o noticing its signal. A few meters after that I stopped behind the other cars waiting at the traffic light. While waiting for the green signal, I pulled up the phone which has been sitting in the cup holder on the console to the right of the driver's seat. The phone was showing the TTC bus arrival time for a stop nearby, where I was going to drop off a passenger; I was not texting or talking. It went blank (screen saver) and I pulled it up while standing at the red signal to refresh the screen. At that moment a police officer walked to the front passenger window and directed me to pull over. As he saw the phone in my hand (or touching it, I can't really remember), he gave me tickets for two offences. He did ask to see the phone, and I explained what it was used for, and that it was in the cupholder, up until the time I stopped at the light (at which time he approached the car and saw me with it). He also mentioned (not sure why, and only at the very end) that our communication (or perhaps the whole infraction, I am not sure) was recorded and filmed. To make the matter worse, the car insurance slip was left home, but was sent to me quickly on the phone. He reprimanded me for not carrying the insurance, but was satisfied with the electronic copy.

I am trying to decide whether I should go for an early resolution option, of for the trial. Have a few questions in this regard:

1) Given the nature of the offences, each of which is ticketed at $490, what are my chances of receiving a lower fine (and/or demerit points) should I go for the early resolution option? Does anyone have experience with a similar situation?

2) What are the disadvantages of going for a trial? Is it possible that a judge can impose even heavier penalty than is currently stated in the two tickets? Would there be much benefit for opting for a trial, or seeing the disclosure materials?

Thank you, would appreciate any feedback.


argyll
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Re: Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

Unread post by argyll »

These are not hard offences to prove assuming it was the police officer that saw you pass the bus. You may want to try to plead to one in exchange for the other being dropped.

There is always benefit in seeing the disclosure though to see what evidence there is.
Former Ontario Police Officer. Advice will become less relevant as the time goes by !


jsherk
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Re: Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

Unread post by jsherk »

Early resolution is most likely a waste of time as you can just meet with prosecutor before trial to discuss plea deals options. But most likely they wont offer much of anything in the way of plea deals in this case.

Any ways you should plead NOT GUILTY to both and request a trial with the officer present. Once you get your Notice of Trial then you can ask for disclosure (copy of officers notes). Once you get the notes, scan and post here (with personal/officer info blacked out) and then we can determine if they are beatable or not.

Worst case is you go to trial and you lose but you request a reduction in fines from the Justice of the Peace. Seeing as you were stopped when you used the phone, you MIGHT get a reduction on that one.
+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++


argyll
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Re: Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

Unread post by argyll »

If you read this board you will see differing opinions on Early Resolution. I think it's a good idea and that you are likely to get a better deal before the Crown has spent time working on the case and getting it ready for trial, calling witnesses etc. Once trial day arrives he or she is ready for trial so may have less incentive to cut you a break......unless they have an early tee time of course.
Former Ontario Police Officer. Advice will become less relevant as the time goes by !


lremi
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Re: Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

Unread post by lremi »

argyll wrote:If you read this board you will see differing opinions on Early Resolution. I think it's a good idea and that you are likely to get a better deal before the Crown has spent time working on the case and getting it ready for trial, calling witnesses etc. Once trial day arrives he or she is ready for trial so may have less incentive to cut you a break......unless they have an early tee time of course.
Thank you both for the advice, really appreciate it. With respect to trying to plead to one in exchange for the other being dropped, or somehow reduced, when could that be done? Does that need to happen at the Early Resolution meeting? Or is that something that could be done at the trial (how does it work then, e.g. before the trial?). When is it more likely to succeed, if at all?

I guess the only way for me to see the evidence (i.e. to ask for disclosure) is to request a trial, is this correct?

I am trying to evaluate my chances with early resolution versus trial. If possible, I have a few questions of the Early Resolution option:
  1. How long does is typically take to set up one in Toronto? (My tickets refer to the East court office on Markham St, if that matters)
  2. What could I try to ask for during the meeting? Would the best case be trying to drop the phone offence? Or asking to plead guilty to a lesser offence on either of the two tickets? What are lesser offences for 175(11) (school bus), and for 78.1(1) (handheld device)? Any chance of switching to the owner offence on the school bus versus the driver (it's probably almost impossible, since I was stopped by the officer, but worth a shot?)
  3. If they do not offer anything of substance, should I then request a trial? Are there disadvantages of going for a trial after an unsuccessful Early Resolution meeting -- from the point of likely outcome at the trial, that is? In particularly, it it possible or likely that the judge will impose a still higher fines and or demerit points? I am guessing the demerit points are set, so probably could not go higher? But what about fines, or other penalties they can impose?
Regarding the trial option -- if it it comes to that, I would certainly ask for disclosure. I am not totally convinced the bus lights were flashing, but even if that is not stated in the officer's note, he did mention video recording, which makes me think there is likely video log of the offence and he is pretty confident of the evidence. What would you make of the officer's remark that it was recorded?

Many thanks!


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Nanuk
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Re: Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

Unread post by Nanuk »

lremi wrote:
argyll wrote:If you read this board you will see differing opinions on Early Resolution. I think it's a good idea and that you are likely to get a better deal before the Crown has spent time working on the case and getting it ready for trial, calling witnesses etc. Once trial day arrives he or she is ready for trial so may have less incentive to cut you a break......unless they have an early tee time of course.
Thank you both for the advice, really appreciate it. With respect to trying to plead to one in exchange for the other being dropped, or somehow reduced, when could that be done? Does that need to happen at the Early Resolution meeting? Or is that something that could be done at the trial (how does it work then, e.g. before the trial?). When is it more likely to succeed, if at all?

I guess the only way for me to see the evidence (i.e. to ask for disclosure) is to request a trial, is this correct?

I am trying to evaluate my chances with early resolution versus trial. If possible, I have a few questions of the Early Resolution option:
  1. How long does is typically take to set up one in Toronto? (My tickets refer to the East court office on Markham St, if that matters)
  2. What could I try to ask for during the meeting? Would the best case be trying to drop the phone offence? Or asking to plead guilty to a lesser offence on either of the two tickets? What are lesser offences for 175(11) (school bus), and for 78.1(1) (handheld device)? Any chance of switching to the owner offence on the school bus versus the driver (it's probably almost impossible, since I was stopped by the officer, but worth a shot?)
  3. If they do not offer anything of substance, should I then request a trial? Are there disadvantages of going for a trial after an unsuccessful Early Resolution meeting -- from the point of likely outcome at the trial, that is? In particularly, it it possible or likely that the judge will impose a still higher fines and or demerit points? I am guessing the demerit points are set, so probably could not go higher? But what about fines, or other penalties they can impose?
Regarding the trial option -- if it it comes to that, I would certainly ask for disclosure. I am not totally convinced the bus lights were flashing, but even if that is not stated in the officer's note, he did mention video recording, which makes me think there is likely video log of the offence and he is pretty confident of the evidence. What would you make of the officer's remark that it was recorded?

Many thanks!
A disclosure request and seeing what evidence will be used against you is always a good idea .

With regards to the video evidence it will depend on the location of the officers patrol vehicle as to whether or not the offence itself was caught on camera or if just the interaction between yourself and the officer is on camera. I know that 99% of Toronto scout cars are fitted with panasonic cameras to the front and one to the cage in the vehicle.

Goodluck.


lremi
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Re: Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

Unread post by lremi »

Here is what I found on the MTO page on distracted driving (http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety ... -faq.shtml), under Question 5. I understand 1 and 3, it's point 2 that concerns me. Has anyone seen this increase in the fine applied when a person chooses to fight the ticket and is convicted?
If convicted of distracted driving, a fully licenced driver (holder of Class A, B, C, D, E, F, G) or a hybrid driver (holder of a full-class licence and a novice licence such as Class G and M1) will receive:
  1. a fine of $400, plus a victim surcharge and court fee, for a total of $490 if settled out of court
  2. fine of up to $1,000 if you receive a summons or fight your ticket
  3. three demerit points applied to your driver’s record


screeech
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Re: Failing to stop for a school bus / handheld device

Unread post by screeech »

Set fines are for those that wish to pay their fine and not dispute the ticket. Once you choose to go to trial, the set fines are out the window...Under section 78.1(6.1) -the penalty section: " every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $1,000"...the prosecutor can ask for any fine in that range, it would be up to the justice of the peace to impose whatever they feel is just in that particular case taking into consideration all of the facts and circumstances...


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