To Write, or Not to Write...

Ticket Writer"Don't you guys ever do anything else than write tickets?" asked the visibly upset gentleman who had just been stopped for travelling at 86 km/h in the posted 60 km/h zone. "Can't you give a guy a warning? This is my second ticket this year and I will owe ICBC a lot of money!"

What is a good answer to this man? He is obviously frustrated by the situation and probably upset with himself for driving like this in the first place.

Ask the people who live along this road and they will likely not by overly sympathetic to his predicament. After all, they have to get into and out of their driveways safely and they have family and friends that use the road regularly.

It could be worse. Penny Hamilton is a 72 year old grandmother from Nanaimo. Last week she was unhappy with the way a vehicle was being driven "all over the road" in front of her so she passed it.

The trouble was that she chose to do so by reaching a speed of 120 km/h in a 90 zone, just as the posted speed dropped to 70 km/h.

This made her speed 50 km/h over the limit and caught the attention of South Island Traffic Services who issued her a $368 excessive speeding ticket. The law also requires the officer to impound the vehicle for 7 days.

She was even more voluble than my driver and appeared on CHEK TV complaining about her fate. She has a clean driving record, has never had an accident and wasn't impaired. Why are you doing this to me?

What could possibly go wrong passing an erratic driver at a significant speed? Better to stay behind where that driver is in sight and you are in control of the situation.

Traffic enforcement tools are quite limited when you think about it. Police have a warning and a ticket to use, or a document compelling the driver to attend court for really serious violations.

Beyond that, about all they can do is write to RoadSafetyBC and suggest sanctions. RoadSafetyBC in my experience is generally not interested as unless the driver has a medical or physical problem, but they do use the ticket total to decide on punitive action.

In my view, a warning was not appropriate for this speed and location, so I am left with the ticket. Am I a good guy or a bad guy? Regardless of my choice I will fall into one or both of these categories from the point of view of the driver, myself and other road users.

I wrote the ticket because I've seen what happens when things go wrong on the highway. Dave Hay is a retired co-worker that was interviewed by CHEK in a follow up story to Penny Hamilton. We share the same views.

 

Comments

Do you write any other tickets?

Have never been in favour of the excessive speeding law and do not approve of impounding vehicles. In the case of the woman that had just hit the 50k zone how far was she into it? What is the normal speed on this section of road during the build-up to rush hour?

I know a few sections of road in the greater Vancouver area that at the start of rush hour the traffic can be flowing at several klicks over the posted limit. No one is pulled over as you would have to ticket every vehicle.

The biggest animosity towards speeding tickets is the simple little fact the vast majority of the MVA is never enforced. For instances how many tickets are issued annually under section 182(2) or (3)? Maybe if every officer had to issue two tickets for 182 infractions for every speeding ticket people would have more respect? Every year people die for not following this section, why is it not enforced?

I started my working career in the government and I swore an Oath to uphold all sections of the Act. I was not given the liberty to pick and choose that was not my job. My job was to enforce all sections.

Who Wrote What

36% on one section

You should know we will never agree on this:) And no matter which way you put it out of all the sections there is in the MVA 36% of the tickets are issued for speeding. And 115 under section 182. I could write more than that on one trip to Vancouver!

Using my suggestions in my first post there should only have been 53 speeding tickets in 2017. I was generous and rounded up at .5.

Error in Judgment

She made an error in judgment, and should be punished for her mistake. It's as simple as that.

Penny Hamilton Was in the Wrong

I fully agree that the traffic officer did his job. Perhaps Penny should be shown the results of horrific accidents that occured because of the same decision that Penny took. I would suggest she be required to take a written and road test before going out on the road again. I would also suggest the pro bono lawyer for Penny be shown the results of what happens when decisions like this are made on the road.

Similar Situation

I had a similar experience to your "passing lady" story back when I was facilitating a Safe Driving course in Manitoba.

We were discussing highway driving and speed limits when she said something to the effect she always drove over the limit going home on the highway because she didn't want to be on the road longer than necessary because of all the bad drivers on the road.

She was a senior and her response surprised me because until then i thought teens and young drivers didn't understand rules of the road and had no idea how their reactions affected others on the road.

Now I'm more aware of this unrelated to age and to a sense of entitlement.

Sympathy

While i have sympathy with the lack of finances many pensioners have, I have little sympathy here. (And I can imagine the rant the officer received on this one.)

She has more time than those of us who are working daily, her reactions are likely not as fast as a younger driver in the first place, if they are all over the road then you risk getting side swiped as you pass, and just because you have no record doesn’t mean you don’t speed, you likely haven't been caught - we all speed at times whether we intend to or not.

The Woman on CHEK

In regards to the woman who got caught speeding and lost her car and ended up on CHEK, why should she get any different treatment then a 24 year old that got a ticket. The law is the law. She probably speeds all the time but, this was the one time she got caught. It’s sad, nobody, nobody enjoys getting a speeding ticket but, I agree with you if there was an unsafe driver she was better to hang back then to try and pass the person.

The old saying – don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. I’ve had my share of speeding tickets and the only one that caught me was a change of speed in a construction zone with a blocked speed sign that was behind a dump truck at the time. Anyways, long story short, wasn’t worth my time to fight it. Paid the fine, lesson learned. Watch my speed in a construction zone!!!

My Experience

I may have mentioned this before, but coming home from a tournament I was nailed for speeding at the bottom of a very long descent on a highway and don’t recall even having my foot on the gas. (Or the brake - clearly.) 

At the time I was financially stretched trying to allow my child to compete athletically with those of higher-income parents. The ticket was a hardship.

I don’t know if the officer received my thank you note. I had children in the car.

On the other hand, I am still a bit bitter about the ticket for a California turn at an urban four-way during rush hour with vehicles lined up in all directions...

Her Mistake

I totally agree with the ticket, her mistake.

I have a question, recently I read in the Driving Section of the Times Colonists that even though the schools are closed the speed signs are still in effect. In Nanaimo during the summer months most of us go through at the regular speed is this wrong, I have not heard of anyone being ticketed for doing this in the summer.

Who is to Blame?

Boil it all down who is to blame. Taking away speed as human desire . It must then me seen that the car makers who sell us big engines fast hatchbacks even faster sports cars and the Governments who set the road speed.

Either stop selling racing cars to public or lift the road speed set. My guess is bring the whole thing down to slower driving.

Once a driver,and that is all who drive including me ,see a straight bit of road the foot reacts and speed is certain. Then one sees the sign telling you 50 max. Down to 30 down to 15. What the hell why when not a school in sight.

My wish is for safety so cars governed is best plan  as soon get used to it .Drive a big car like Rolls Royce and no one speeds because they have a car that is made to be seen. Small hatchbacks go paste me at 100 mph as car is not important.

So make amazingly lovely cars with smaller engines and for half the population speed will be a thing of the past

An opportunity missed

I have no sympathy for drivers who are ticketed for speeding, and I wish the Police would devote much more effort to road safety. The road I live on is so bad that we have to move. It is just too unsafe, as well as noisy.

The woman claimed she wanted to avoid the erratic driver, who escaped any sanction in this case due to her actions. Had she stayed behind, where it was safer, the Police could have pulled the erratic driver over. But instead, they were too busy dealing with her.

Would not have changed anything

Approximately 20 years back I received a ticket for crossing a double line. I had been warned by on-coming traffic that there was a speed trap ahead and the officer was clearly visible so I had checked my speed. We were coming up to the end of the passing lane and I had pulled out to pass. As soon as we drove past the 200m to end of passing lane sign the car I was passing abruptly swung into my lane. Rather than having my right side hit I moved across the centre line. Sight lines were good, could see close to 800m and no traffic approaching.

Rather than ticket the person that had cut me off he pulled me over and gave me a ticket for crossing a double line. I was not speeding as he was checking speed with his radar.

When it came to the Court date the Officer asked to speak to me before we went into Court. He wanted to know what my side of the story was. I pointed out that if I had not pulled into the on-coming lane there would have been an accident as the other vehicle pulled over without checking and would have hit the front end of my vehicle. Seeing no traffic coming I chose to avoid an accident and crossed the line.

The ticket was dismissed. Unfortunately most cops have blinkers on when it comes to issuing tickets. In my case if he had been paying attention to the driving he would have noticed the other driver cutting me off. Instead all he saw was a vehicle crossing a double line. The fact we were side by side when I pulled into the other lane and we had just past the 200m sign should have been an indication. There was still 150m of double lane going the direction we were. It is a favourite speed trap as people juggle to get past before hitting a long stretch of no passing.

In the case of the lady in the story. The only way the driver of the other car would have been issued a ticket is if he would have hit the cop car. Erratic driving is not a priority.

I have watched them pull vehicles over for no seatbelts or cell phone usage yet the vehicle has no DRL, burnt out headlights, taillights etc. but talking to the person after the only ticket issued was for the seatbelt. Improving highway safety is not a priority. Issue tickets they know the Judge will rubber stamp in Kangaroo Court. And unfortunately 90% of the public will agree.

Don't police officers have some discretion?

She made an error in judgment, and should be punished for her mistake. It's as simple as that.

Yes, absolutely. That woman deserved a ticket, and consequent fine plus demerit points on her license. Frankly, I doubt that she would argue these facts.

Separately, that there police officer had an obligation to issue her a ticket, as he waited beside the highway at the beginning of the 70 km/h section (which is why he was there, of course).

But seriously, $2,800 of financial obligation (not to mention the loss of her car for a week) is freaking absurd. Being as cops are expected to use their own judgment when dealing with situations they encounter, surely there could have been a more reasonable ticket issued under the MVA & Regs?

No wonder some municipalities (such as Surrey) prefer to replace the RCMP with their own policing force. As a semi-military organization, with a horribly chauvinistic structure in place, it's time for them to realize that they may be making themselves redundant.

But meanwhile, we also have to ask how in the hell the penalty for excessive speeding has leaped from an extra $100 fine to this massive inconvenience and expense - and that's the government's problem to solve.

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