Q&A - Crossing a Solid Line

Q&A ImageQ: I was on a highway in bumper-to-bumper traffic approaching my exit for work and changed lanes to the right once I saw the end of HOV lane sign, and in doing so crossed a solid white line. An RCMP officer was on the side of the highway and waved me over. I explained that I would be exiting the highway and that's why I changed lanes. He gave me a ticket for violation of Section 151(b) - crossing a solid line.

I appealed the ticket and intend to plead not guilty on the basis of section 156, which suspends sections 151 and 155 under certain conditions.

I found your web site, read your Q&A on how to deal with traffic tickets and subsequently requested disclosure. I received a copy of the back of the ticket - there's not much written and some of it I can't decipher, but the notes relate to the HOV lane. I completely disagree with his assessment of where I was when I crossed the line. My questions are:

1. Since the officer's notes (and therefore, I assume, his testimony will) relate to the HOV lane, will establishing where I was with respect to the HOV lane be an issue? What happens if we have different recollections of my location? How does the fact that I was not charged with driving in the HoV lane play into things?

2. Is the officer first to testify? I could be mistaken (which is why I am asking you), but I believe I could make my case by cross-examining the officer, specifically by asking him if he recalls certain details of our conversation (that I was exiting the highway, etc.). If he recalls those details, do I then not need to testify? If he does not recall details of our conversation (it was a while ago), is my only option then to testify? At what point do I need to decide if I will testify?

3. Should I take to court some kind of proof of my work address?

4. Is there any value in explaining the circumstances of the day to the judge (which I also explained to the officer), or in mentioning my clean driving record?

I called the courthouse to ask about the court proceeding and was told that there is no standard as to how the hearing will proceed.


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Comments

Answer

Well, let's take a quick look at the law for a start:

Driving on laned roadway

151 A driver who is driving a vehicle on a laned roadway

(b) must not drive it from one lane to another if that action necessitates crossing a solid line,

Suspension of sections 151 and 155

156 If the driver of a vehicle is causing the vehicle to enter or leave a highway and the driver has ascertained that he or she might do so with safety and does so without unreasonably affecting the travel of another vehicle, the provisions of sections 151 and 155 are suspended with respect to the driver while the vehicle is entering or leaving the highway.

I belong to the camp that thinks you did something illegal by crossing the solid line. However, I have had a JJP in traffic court take the opposite view, so it really depends on who you end up with at the hearing. My contention would be that you were not leaving the highway, so the exemption under section 156 does not apply.

You may also wish to review the provincial driver's manual, Learn to Drive Smart, Chapter 4, pages 52 and 53 concerning HOV lanes.

To deal with your issues one by one:

1) I expect what you received was a photocopy of the officer's notes, which you cannot entirely decipher. There is no reason that you could not request further disclosure, except this time state that you require a synopsis of the officer's evidence similar to what they would submit in a narrative report to Crown Counsel.

2) Yes, the prosecution, in this case the officer, will be the first to testify. You are entitled to cross examine after evidence in chief and you can ask if the officer recalls conversation and what it was. Be careful when you do this as the conversation will then become evidence at trial without the necessity of a voire dire (a trial within a trial to ensure than anything you said was said voluntarily). If he does not recall, then yes, in order to have the content of the conversation entered as evidence you will have to testify to it. You need to decide if you testify or not after the Crown has entered all their evidence and you have completed cross examination. You may wish to buy or borrow from the library the book Fight That Ticket in British Columbia (currently out of print). It gives you a good idea about what to do in traffic court along with the link under Traffic Tickets on the links page of this site.

3) That is not necessary, you can simply testify to this if you wish. I doubt that the court will disbelieve you.

4) Typically, there is no mention of driving record until the accused is convicted and the penalty phase of the trial takes place. If you bring it up in your testimony, then the officer is allowed to cross examine you on your driving history. My experience is that it will not make a difference to your trial.

If you have the time, attend traffic court as a spectator prior to your trial. You will see what happens, how people behave and what the outcome is. You will be more relaxed and confident when your trial takes place.

Hmmm

It sounds like the driver entered the right sided HOV lane to exit the highway a little too early, i.e.: https://www.google.com/maps/@49.1045238,-123.0481269,3a,75y,298h,79.03t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s85FBhpufXBNVAoJzMdqoSA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

The officer will want to talk to you before the trial to try to find out what your intentions for coming to court are. That would be a good time to ask the officer to withdraw the ticket and remind them of your conversation, mention that the traffic was stopped, you were exiting, you did your proper checks etc, and mention that you're a good driver (if you are) and that you'll consider not doing this again. However keeping in-mind that you yourself are admitting to crossing of the solid line, that's enough already to convict you with "crossing the solid line". The provision for leaving the highway is intended for driveways and minor side streets that the line painting crew couldn't bother pausing the paint for when painting lines on a regional highway.

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