Q&A - Speeding Relative To Conditions

Q&A ImageIn mid July I was driving on a rural back road on Vancouver Island, heading into town to do a few personal errands. The vehicle I was driving was a 2008 Toyota Sienna van. On this particular day it was my second time driving the van, and I was still not used to the amount of steering input that was required to turn it, as I had been driving a Civic since I got my Learners License. 

I had slowed down to cross very narrow bridge on a road with a speed limit of 50 km/h. As as I got of the bridge and drove up the road I had caught the wheels of the van in the ditch and drove myself off the road. I wasn't speeding I had just not given the vehicle enough steering input to restraighten the vehicle after the turn.

I drove off the road and crashed into the ditch, wrecking the front right side of the van. I had panicked because the airbag had went off and called to police asking for assistance.

When the police officer arrived he had asked what happened and said he didn't believe my case. I was incredibly nervous because I had never dealt with a police officer.

The officer in question decided to charge me with 144(1)(c) Speeding Relative To Conditions, which I believe if convicted would put three driving points against my license. I am set to appear in traffic court on April 1st to please not guilty of the offense.

My questions are as follows:

-Is there enough evidence to convict me of the offense? Nobody saw the crash take place and the officer had only done a quick visual inspection in order to determine if I was speeding. His main point was the tracks were quite long in the ditch before the van made impact into the rock.

-If I am unable to dispute my case, what are the chances I could lose my novice license. I live quite far away from major bus stops and if I don't have my license I would be unable to get to work and school (I am currently studying to be an Accountant.)

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.


Sorry to hear about the van, airbags are expensive, and so is the body work.

You were charged with 144(1)(c):

(1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a highway
(a) without due care and attention,
(b) without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway, or
(c) at a speed that is excessive relative to the road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions.
(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) (a) or (b) is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than $100 and, subject to this minimum fine, section 4 of the Offence Act applies.

For the purposes of MVA "highways" means any public road.

You claim that your inexperience has led to you losing control of the vehicle and steering it in the undesired direction.
Inexperience isn't directly related to "road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions.", but none-the-less, it is fair to ask: "Would the same result occur had you been going slower?"
if the answer is no, then it truly seems that you were going a little too fast to handle.
(maybe not for the roads conditions, but for your own skill-set)

In-case you pay the ticket:
- You will get 3 points against your license, and as long as it remains 3 for the 12 months, you will not have to pay any more because of it
- Your license may get reviewed by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, and you may get a notice of suspension (1 month)
- You may dispute the suspension based on your remote location, this is done in-writing, and is usually granted for remote-area cases like yours.

In-case you dispute the ticket:

If you dispute the charge:
- The only evidence is what you told the officer, plus what the officer observed.
- If you can come up with a legal scenario, where you were not going faster than appropriate, but would have led to the same result.
- The charge may get dismissed, or not, upto the judge - depends on how convincing you sound
(A one vehicle-accident puts you at a disadvantage, over those who did not crash, but still face the same charge)

If you dispute the fine:
- Depending on how much the ticket is (if its above minimally legislated) you can plea guilty to the charge but ask for lesser fine, based on your financial situation - be ready to tell the judge how much money you earn.
- You can also ask for time to pay, after pleading guilty, typically up to 6 months is not unreasonable

Your case has much less evidence towards prosecution, than a typical "speed trap" case;
it is not daunting to dispute, and has a good chance of being dismissed.

But, I urge you to reconsider your driving technique and look for driving mentors (parents aren't always best, unless they hold GP trophies). No matter the size of the vehicle, the width of the road and the stuff that comes between the road and your wheels, you should be fully prepared to drive any vehicle before you turn the ignition on. If you are uncomfortable driving a large vehicle, do not do it, until you are comfortable. Sienna and Civic are not that intrinsically different to drive, that it's excusable as "new vehicle". (Compared to trying to drive an 18speed tractor trailer)

You could have just the same crossed over into the on-coming lane and affected innocent motorists.
Considering the airbag popped, the collision is "serious" - it had great potential to cause bodily harm or even death.
As a new driver you have a great duty to yourself and others to quickly understand your abilities, and to self-moderate yourself into a better driver. It takes years to perfect your technique, but simple things like taking it slow on roads you have not traveled on before can be implemented immediately.

P.S. Read this site a little more thorough - everything said above has been already posted.

The advice given below seems comprehensive enough.

In situations like these I usually tended to write fail to keep right instead of speed relative to conditions but from your scenario the speed charge doesn't seem out of the question either.

If you have never had a ticket before now you would probably not lose your licence over this one, but search driver improvement program for more information on that.

Thank you very much for the comprehensive replies. I am trusted with driving both my parents vehicles even after this crash as they know I am a good driver (Of course this has nothing to do with my upcoming traffic court date.). I have learned a lot and take great pride in being a safe driver on the roads. My traffic court date is in a few more days so we will see how it goes. Your information provided will be of great use to myself.

Thank you again for your time.

Your question about the possible consequences of losing your case is difficult to answer.

If you were an experienced driver with a clean Class 5 license, then the 3-point ticket and consequential fine would in all likelihood be the result.

But as an 'N' Class 7 driver, your behaviour is subject to much greater scrutiny, as you're still within the probationary period, and have been on the road for less than a year.  I'm almost certain that the delay before you will be eligible to take your Class 5 Road Test and thus exit graduated licensing will be re-commenced.  If you have received any previous tickets within your 'L' or 'N' Class 7 driving time, it is highly likely that you will also receive an immediate suspension of your license for a finite period.  This may still occur however, as a result of this one offense, as you have only been driving solo for a short time; contact ICBC at 1-800-950-1498 for details; have your driver license number handy.

Almost forgot to come back and say how the court date went. I guess to my luck the cop didn't show up so my ticket was tossed by the judge. Either way though thank you again for the replies. I have learned a lot during this whole ordeal.