Q&A - Ticket for "Drive Without Due Care"
I was returning to Calgary from Seattle through Trans Canada 1 west of Golden. The road conditions were poor, with a few inches of fresh snow, and visibility was poor due to blowing snow. Traffic had slowed to around 50 km/h. I watched other drivers pass semis behind me which were moving at around 30 km/hm due to the extremely poor visibility from driving behind them.
Anyway, I was behind a lineup of around 10 light vehicles, and I decided to try and get further ahead. The road conditions were same on both sides of the road. There was a straight section of road ( not a double laned pasing section, to my knowledge) where I could clearly see the tailights of all the vehicles ahead in a straight line and no oncoming traffic. Also, my friend who was in the car with me confirmed that the GPS we were using indicated this was a straight section; it had proved to be correct on the path of the road for the past 500 km. I made a move to pass, accelerating to around 70 km/h. I passed two vehicles, the second of which was a cop. He immediately turned on his lights, and I found a safe place to pull over. It is also worth mentioning the posted speed limit was 90 km/h.
The officer approached me and appeared upset. He informed me that we were in an avalanche area, and that I was trying to pass people with 6" of snow on the median and how I was putting my rush to get home ahead of everyone elses. I asked him what he was pulling me over for, and he replied "driving without due care and attention". I was not sure what this meant, and I repeated the question after he continued to berate me, to which he gave me the same answer. To quell his apparent frustration, I apologized and told him I would take it easy. He returned to his vehicle and then stayed there for around 20 minutes ( in the avalanche area). He came back ticket in hand, with the offence "Drive without due care" listed and section 144(1)(a) quoted, and I received it without saying anything further.
Looking back, I dont believe that my actions warrant an offence, let alone one with a weight of 6 demerits. I understand that what I did carries more risk than a typical pass, due to the road conditons, however after watching drivers pass semis where there was severely reduced visibility, I felt that this was a safe pass. He did not charge me with not considering other traffic (144(1)(b)) or driving at excessive speed for the conditions (144(1)(c)). I intend to dispute this charge, however I would like your opinion on how previous cases such as this were handled.