Q&A - Disputing a Red Light Ticket

Q&A ImageI was assessed a traffic violation for beating a red light at Hastings and Gore which I am certain that I did not.  My son, who was the front seat passenger was my witness to the incident.  However, I am not certain the court will accept his testimony because of our relationship.  What are my chances of winning the dispute? 

It is pretty much my words against the officer.  However, I have a witness and he did not.   If I am given a fair trial,  then perhaps I can call upon my witness to testify.  If I am denied justice, then my witness may not be able to give his account of the event, and in which case, my fight would be futile. 

Any advice would be appreciated.


Your Dispute

The court will definitely consider testimony from your son as a witness. When your case is called, make sure that your son leaves the courtroom so that his testimony is not seen to be influenced by the proceeding. He can sit in the court and watch everything else before and after if he wishes. The justice will assign weight to what he has to say depending on how honest and forthright he appears to be. If it is obvious that someone has coached him in what to say I expect that the justice will place less weight on the testimony he gives.

You posted the same question with one of the red light stories. I deleted it to simplify answering and then noticed that you had included notes on signal timing with it that is not here. You are correct to do this and can use these measurements as part of your defence along with all the other observations that you made at the time.

Don't feel victimized. Incidents like these are simply a case of two people seeing the same situation and coming to different conclusions. This is why the court is there. The justice will listen to both sides and make a decision. You only have to raise reasonable doubt, the officer has to show beyond a reasonable doubt, so ultimately his job is more difficult than yours.

What it really comes down to is did your vehicle enter the intersection before or after the signal turned red.


I wonder if I should emphasize that the couple crossing Gore Ave is a typically Chinese elderly couple and not one of those Downtown Eastside Residents.  They freaked out when they saw the lights flashing which cause the SUV in front of me to slam his brakes to let them cross.  It was only for a brief moment and we were through the intersection. 19 years of driving experience in Vancouver, it is not my driving style to enter a junction where I have no chance of crossing and I am absolutely sure it was not red when I completed the turn.  I kind of find it hard to make a good defence.  The moment the lights turned red, the other side turned green without any delay.  The officer was driving an unmarked SUV (meaning no POLICE wording was painted on the vehicle).  There is no way the vehicles on Gore Avenue would have known that it was a police vehicle unless they looked closer and noticed those other lights in it.  If I had committed the offence as alleged, I would have a bunch of vehicles right behind me when I was stopped.  Instead, the Police SUV was the only vehicle behind me when I was pulled over.

As I had mentioned in the other posting, he had indicated that he was right beside me, observed my wheels behind the white line when the lights turned red.  There were 4 lights position in front of him - 11 o'clock, 12 'oclock, 1 o'clock and 3 o'clock.  The wheel position was 8 to 9 o'clock.  It is not possible that he can observe both at the same time.   

If I were to use what I had mentioned above, do you think I would stand a good chance of winning?  I don't want to waste my time if the court is forever tilted towards law enforcement.

I had a bad experience in 1998 when I was pulled over by an officer for not stopping at a four way stop sign at 8 pm. on a lonely stretch at 4th Avenue and 10th Street in New Westminster.  I don't remember anyone else at that junction and our friend was laying in wait for his victim.  Since I had no witness whatsoever, I had to concede and pay the fine. 

However I believed I have a strong case this time and if they would only listen to the testimony of my witness, I am quite sure I would win this time.

What else can you advice?

Thanks again in advance.

Laying in Wait

I smile when I read things like this. If you know that there is a problem involving a stop sign, what better thing to do that sit there and watch. Someone doesn't stop, you chase them down and write them a ticket. That's just one of the ways that traffic law enforcement works! Slowing down and looking both ways is not enough at a stop sign. Unless there is a full cessation of movement at the proper place, you are guilty.

The court is not forever tilted towards law enforcement. My experience observing in court sometimes made me wonder if the court was tilted toward the defendant! You go in and tell your story as completely and honestly as you can and you see what happens. Witnesses are nice to have, but not necessary to win and that applies to both sides of the ticket. If you read the case law stories on the site you will see where the judge comments on who is a good witness and who isn't. Both the police and the public are mentioned.

Why not ask for disclosure? (Use the search box in the upper left...) You will see what the officer's case in court will be and can prepare your defence accordingly.

Oh, and while I am thinking of it, your first post "disappeared" because I moderate posts on the site. That helps me keep the site from being filled up with garbage from the spammers. Once I read it over and grant it published status, it appears for all to see.

Update on the case

Sorry for taking such a long time to post.

Just want to update everyone that I was not penalized for this infracation.  The judge was kind enough and accepted my explanation that I was held up by the elderly couple who were crossing the road when it was clear that they should not be.  My son's testimony was also given due consideration.

However, I was not impressed by the officer's insistent that he was right and I was wrong.  He even went to the extent of implying that I was in a hurry to get to work when we both testified that we worked flexible hours.  He also made a mistake that my passenger was a female, which he openly admitted in court. 

At least justice is served in this case and I am grateful that we do have a judge that would listen and weight the circumstances and made the right judgement.


It was nice of you to remember and fill us all in.

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