CASE LAW - R v Tootill

BC Courts Coat of ArmsIan Tootill was convicted on a charge of loud and unnecessary exhaust system noise pursuant to Section 7A.01 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations by Judicial Justice Lim in traffic court. He was operating his Harley Davidson motorcycle on Beach Avenue in Vancouver and was stopped by Constable Bercic of the VPD.

The constable observed that the sound from the exhaust system of the motorcycle was “at least twice as loud as a stock exhaust system.” He corroborated this observation with a sound level meter.

Mr. Tootill appealed Judicial Justice Lim's decision to the Supreme Court where the matter was heard by Madam Justice Gropper. She discussed both the subjective opinion of the constable with regard to the noise level and the use of the sound level meter.

The conviction was upheld.


Ah, the fabled and generously publicized "screaming eagles" case. Makes me wonder if Ian's running for office again?
Probably should be mentioned that Ian Tootill has dedicated many years of his life to his co-founder duties of SENSE BC (Safety Through Education Not Speed Enforcement) - playing a big role in ousting of the Photo Radar 1.0 and the Rural Highway Speed review (and subsequent hike), as well as to calling out many of the false safety pretenses and subjective enforcement peddled by a variety of the BC's Governments over the years in regards to the road regime.

This particular case shines a good light on the theatre some police officers put up at the road-side to go "beyond the duty" by buying a personal sound meter, keeping the meter maintained and calibrated, all the while charging drivers under "subjective" provisions that only require a word of an officer to prosecute:

Division 7A — Noise from Motor Vehicles
7A.01   No person shall start, drive, turn or stop any motor vehicle, or accelerate the vehicle engine while the vehicle is stationary, in a manner which causes any loud and unnecessary noise in or from the engine, exhaust system or the braking system, or from the contact of the tires with the roadway.

At the trial, Mr. Tootill asked Constable Bercic whether he noticed Mr. Tootill doing “anything that would indicate that he was a bad or dangerous driver on that day.” Constable Bercic said “no.” Mr. Tootill then asked “did I squeal my tires, [or] come to a screeching halt [?]” Judicial Justice Lim then interrupted the cross-examination and stated “Mr. Tootill ... he hasn’t charged you with those offences. Those questions aren’t relevant.”

In cross-examination, Constable Bercic explained that the sound level metre he used is not that issued by the Vancouver Police Department; it is his “personal sound level metre.” Constable Bercic says he was trained in 1993 to use a sound level metre. He used his personal metre to corroborate his subjective assessment of the noise; he calibrated it both before and after the test to ensure it was working accurately.

7A.01 of the Regulations provision applies a subjective standard to determine whether a vehicle has been driven in a manner that causes loud and unnecessary noise from the exhaust system. This section does not refer to a maximum sound pressure level, nor to any testing procedure.

While an interesting case, it has been used politically many times over.

But since we're on topic of subjective enforcement, have you got any comments on the escalating VPD Vehicle Inspection drama targeting a particular car club with VPD officers issuing Order 1 VI's to stock or near-stock vehicles that pass the VI with flying colors - at the expense of the owner, only to be issued another VI again? Or how about VPD harassment of a Subaru Dealership for performing VI's and signing off on them properly? Or how about the VPD restricting where the drivers must pass a VI, i.e. making a driver pass a VI at a VI authorized Porsche dealership (that doesn't exist in Vancouver)?

I have no respect for Ian Tootil's deliberate decision to install an illegally loud exhaust on his motorbike. It's unnecessary and annoying to pretty much everybody. Incredibly selfish.

But I also think it's absurd that a VPD Officer would actually buy a personal sound meter, in order to specialize in targeting people like Tootil. It suggests a very skewed perspective, in terms of his traffic priorities when at work.

I suspect that he's one of the many VPD officers who deliberately and intentionally and continually ignore every example of illegal and rude pedestrian behaviour in the city, even though they selfishly foul up traffic at virtually every intersection in the downtown core so often that it has become their default behaviour.

Those are my thoughts for the day. Enjoy! 

Congrats to the officer to take such initiative with his own sound meter! Noisy vehicles are a nusance.