Q&A - Unsecured Shipping Container
I'm a class 1 driver and haul containers around the Port of Vancouver. I was given a ticket by a CVSE officer for having 1 of my 4 twist locks undone. (Twist locks are on each corner of the trailer and they lock down the container to the trailer). I'm not planning on denying it was undone and he took pictures anyways, I'm just wanting to know the likelyhood that a deal could be made on the court date.
He gave me a $288 fine under the MVA 35.03 (3) for "insecure cargo". I've received a few minor tickets over the years for things like speeding, disobey traffic control device, cell phone etc. I've always taken responsibility, plead guilty, and paid my fine in full and on time. I've never even considered disputing something that I was clearly wrong about but this last ticket, I simply cannot in good conscience accept it!
I feel it's grossly unfair because having been around the container business for the last 7 years, I know that it's physically impossible for that container to come off of my trailer. I've seen truckers get lifted into the air 10 feet at the ports because the driver forgot to undo ONE of their locks and the crane has lifted the whole rig up off the ground! That fine is the exact same punishment that would be given to somebody driving down the road with a flat-deck truck and NO straps or chains on their cargo at all. That situation poses extreme risk to the public whereas mine has zero risk of injuring the public or myself.
Im sorry for rambling on but this whole situation has really got me shaken up. My driving record isn't perfect, but I'm a safe driver and have a clean ICBC accident history. The ticket he issued to me does not carry any penalty points with it, but it does go against my drivers abstract. I just don't feel it's right for something so insignificant to haunt my abstract and create obstacles for me in the future should I choose to advance my career and apply with another trucking company. Having an Insecure Load violation is absolutely NOT something that hiring managers are looking for when reviewing applicants. This is my livelihood and I feel compelled to defend what I feel is right.
My main concern is keeping this conviction off of my drivers abstract. Personally, I feel the fine amount is excessive too for my situation but I'd be more than willing to plead guilty in court, pay the full amount if they'd be willing to keep this offense off my abstract. Is there any likelyhood that it would play out that way? I believe I read in the forums that its possible to dispute the fine and avoid the court date altogether? I'd prefer not to waste everyone's time and resources if I don't have to.
You should totally dispute
You should totally dispute that ticket,
Red light running, over-sped trucker on the cellphone with unsecured load will hopefully trigger the right circuits in the Honourable Justice's brain, so that they may choose to reposition your status as a "class 1 driver"
Nah, I'm just joshing ya, I for one don't mind a 20 tonne load shifting onto my economy-compact
Submitted by E-mail
"I received all those tickets while driving my personal vehicle; none of them were issued to meet behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.
The speeding ticket was from a radar trap in a fishing hole on The Sea to Sky highway in an 80 zone. On a straight stretch of road on a sunny warm dry day. Many areas of that road can easily accommodate speeds higher than 80. I learned after that that it's better to blend in in the middle of the pack then be that guy at the front leading the flow. I did not dispute it.
The disobey traffic control device ticket was not from running a red light. My name isn't Christy Clark. It was from turning left at a no left turn intersection. There was no oncoming traffic, there was nobody behind me, and the sidewalk and crosswalk was clear of pedestrians. It was safe to do so. But the police officer played peekaboo with me for eight blocks after I made the turn just to make sure I was being extra safe before pulling me over. Obviously he was looking to write tickets that day. I did not dispute it.
I have no excuse for the cell phone ticket. Old habits die hard. It was one and a half months after the ban came into effect. I was testing the waters and got bit. Lesson learned. I did not dispute it.
As far as my load crushing your car, no amount of securement is going to prevent that. It is a simple recipe; add a little bit of speed and some top-heavy load, throw in a corner and you've got yourself a disaster! Under normal operating conditions and at least one lock engaged, there is no way for a container to dislodge or fall from its trailer unless you flip over the rig or hit an overpass at highway speed.
Now you seem to have painted a pretty picture of how reckless and dangerous I am as a driver but if you factor in that I'm on the road for 50-60 hours a week, I don't think my abstract looks too bad at all. I wouldn't expect your average 4-wheeler to understand that though. The amount of concentration, skill, patience and situational awareness required to operate a 80 foot long, 100,000Lbs. + vehicle safely throughout the streets of Metro Vancouver is beyond the comprehension of regular class 5 licenced drivers. And ontop of all the challenges involved with driving that truck, often times I find that I need to drive everyone else's car's for them! I know where you're going and what you're doing before you do! That's why most of you have survived this long on our roads. Because a professional has taken evasive and defensive actions that you don't even notice in order to save you from yourselves and you're poor decisions behind the wheel. You're welcome.
I'll make sure to toot my horn at you as I go by! You shouldn't be too hard to find on the road. I imagine you'll be that guy holding everybody up in the left lane on the highway who refuses to move over because you're doing the speed limit!"
I'm going to make an assumptions in my response: that you are an owner/operator with your own National Safety Code Safety Certificate.
35.02 (1) In this Division, "Standard" means National Safety Code Standard 10, "Cargo Securement", recommended by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators on September 8, 2004 and approved by the Council of Ministers on September 23, 2004, as amended from time to time.
Prohibitions respecting equipment and cargo
35.03 (1) In this section:
"business vehicle" has the same meaning as in section 237 of the Act;
"carrier" has the same meaning, in relation to both business vehicles and commercial vehicles, as in section 237 of the Act.
(2) A carrier must not permit a person to drive or operate on a highway a commercial vehicle or business vehicle carrying cargo if the manner in which the vehicle is equipped or its cargo secured contravenes any of sections 35.04 to 35.07.
(3) A person must not drive or operate on a highway a commercial vehicle or business vehicle carrying cargo if the manner in which the vehicle is equipped or its cargo secured contravenes any of sections 35.04 to 35.07.
(4) A person must not drive or operate on a highway a vehicle, other than a commercial vehicle or business vehicle, carrying cargo if the manner in which the vehicle is equipped or its cargo secured contravenes any of sections 35.04 to 35.07.
Since you are speaking of a shipping container on a chassis, Division 6 of NSC Standard 10 applies:
Division 6 - Intermodal Containers
83 This Division applies to the transportation of intermodal containers.
Intermodal container transported on Container chassis vehicle
84(1) This section applies to the transportation of an intermodal container on a container chassis vehicle
(2) Despite section 22, an intermodal container shall be secured to the container chassis with integral locking devices.
(3) The integral locking devices used shall restrain each lower corner of the intermodal container from moving
(a) more than 1.27 centimetres forward,
(b) more than 1.27 centimetres rearward,
(c) more than 1.27 centimetres to the right,
(d) more than 1.27 centimetres to the left, and
(e) more than 2.54 centimetres vertically.
(4) The front and the rear of the intermodal container shall be independently secured.
The emphasis above in (3) is mine.
Now tracing through all of this, it tells you that it's an offence under the MVAR to move a trailer on a highway that has a shipping container on it unless the container is secured in the manner required by NSC Standard 10. That standard says that each corner of the container must be secured. Even if 3 of the 4 are strong enough to secure the load, all 4 are required in order to comply.
The CVSE officer applied the law correctly.
Given the details that you have provided, it seems likely that the court would consider a reduction in the fine amount, whether you choose to dispute the penalty in person or in writing.
However, the nub of the issue is the abstract that you speak of and if I understand correctly, it is your carrier safety profile rather than your driving record. A conviction under this division does not go on your driving record in BC. The only way to prevent this is to either have the ticket dismissed or convince the CVSE officer to withdraw it.
Dismissal would result following a successful dispute of the allegation in traffic court. By your description and the information above, this would be difficult if a trial were held. However, you may wish to obtain legal advice, I always recommend Lawyer Referral for a cost effective consultation.
The other option is to contact the CVSE officer prior to trial and offer something in exchange for withdrawing the ticket. This is unlikely to succeed as most officers don't feel that they have the authority to do such a thing, and even though it is possible and justifiable, their supervisors may forbid it as well. I'm thinking of something along the lines of a donation to charity equal in value to the ticket, perhaps attending a load security training course and proving the same to the officer or even some sort of community service. It never hurts to try, you never know what might happen.
You could wait to do this on the court date or you could try before the court date. I don't know which would be a better choice.
Thank you very much for you
Thank you very much for you timely and informative reply! I had done a quick google search and pulled up the rules pertaining to the Act I was charged with 35.03 (3) but the whole NSC standard 10 division 6 is all new information to me! Obviously 1 of my lower corners was not securely locked to the chassis and I was not in compliance with division 6. Any arguments in court against what I was charged with would seem quite futile lol
Just for further clarification, I am not an owner/operator with my own NSC, just a regular driver operating a company owned truck. The reason I was concerned about my BC driving record is because the ticket was made out to me as an individual, not the registered owner of the vehicle. I asked the CVSE officer and he said it would show on my drivers abstract. Could he have been mistaken??? I'll go and pay the fine tomorrow if I could be assured this will not show up anywhere on any type of abstract from ICBC. My company gets a new abstract for each of their drivers every year and they get the NSC driver's abstract that will show a "Y" under the NSC column if the conviction is NSC related. I imagine that type of abstract would be what all trucking companies are looking for.
Never Stop Learning
I researched this a bit further with CVSE. Apparently there is a difference in driver abstracts between those of us who hold a class 5 or lower and commercial drivers. We only see hazardous moving violation convictions on our abstract and the only MVAR section here that could contribute is 7A.01. Commercial drivers abstracts would show the unsecured load conviction.
You were correct to be concerned as it will follow you around to prospective employers as well as your current one.
That's what I was afraid of:( thanks for clarifying that for me though.
I guess I have some things to ponder about. My only option appears to be the "lets make a deal" avenue. If the officer doesn't accept my deal, which you indicated would be likely for various reasons, would I be able to propose the same deal to the judge inside the court room? I assume he has the power to override the officer and dismiss the charges....?
The JJP in traffic court is only the trier of fact: guilty or not guilty.
If you are found guilty, then the penalty applied can vary according to the JJP's decision, but you are still guilty and that fact is headed for your abstract.
If you are found not guilty, it's as if the issue never happened.
Some JJP's can be pretty creative and some have suggested this type of "restorative justice" to the officers, but again, it is only a suggestion and I would bet that JJP's are normally as receptive to deals like this as the officers are. It means stepping outside of the conventional and most are not comfortable with it.
You'll never know until you try, and who knows, maybe you'll be successful. Either way, if you think to finish the story here when all is said and done, I'm sure that others will appreciate it.
Thank you for all the advice
Thank you for all the advice and looking in on this matter for me, it's greatly appreciated.
I'm not sure what course of action I'll go with. Going to have to think it over for a while. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try and make a deal with the officer. Worst case scenario is that he'll say no and I'll be right where I am now and I'll just plead guilty in court and take the punishment. Either way, I'll come back and post the outcome!
my day in court
My day in court finally came. Well over a year after the violation ticket was issued!
I arrived at the court house quite early and waited for the officer. He was the next person to arrive before anyone else. We chatted for a while and discussed my violation ticket and the officer said that he would support a reduction in the fine in exchange for my pleading guilty. I agreed to this and we went inside the court room. The Justice was quite stern with the guy who's case was up before mine and he had a much more difficult time at the stand then I did. Perhaps that fellow had a lengthy driving record, or maybe it was because he showed up to court wearing jeans and a leather vest, whereas I was wearing dress pants with a shirt and tie. The Justice simply asked me how I would like to plead so I pled guilty. The officer supported a reduction in the fine and the JP reduced the fine to less than 50% of the original ticketed amount! I was quite pleased with that. I thanked the Justice and shook the officer's hand and left the court room.
Attitude is Everything
Looks like you did everything right and it turned out in your favour.
I've found over the years that your attitude in court can significantly affect the outcome of your trial. Dress nicely, be polite and show respect and you will show that you are taking the process seriously and will learn from the outcome. You make it much easier for the JJP to decide that minimal intervention will result in proper driving behaviour after the trial. After all, this is what is hoped for from the process.
Chew gum, get angry and have to be told to take your baseball cap off and you don't set the stage well at all.