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TICKET DETAILS

Fortunately I receive many letters and e-mails from you asking questions and suggesting topics that you want to hear about in this column.  There are some reoccurring themes that tend to crop up from time to time.  This e-mail that I received is one of the briefest but it does address a question that many of you have asked, namely; Is there a way to get out of a ticket on a technicality?

 

The email read as follows:

 

“Hello Mr. Charness!

I enjoy reading your articles in the Gazette.

 

My brief story is as follows:

 

1) I received a ticket for going through a stop sign.

2) Two women police officers used radar.  They observed the stop sign at a right angle to the intersection.

3) The ticket they wrote had the wrong license number and the wrong vehicle.  (It listed a Ford echo, a car that does not exist)

4) I wrote a letter saying that the ticket was technically invalid.

5) I received a reply recently saying an investigation took place and I still had to pay $130 or appear in court.

6) The infraction took place in Dorval in October of 2002!

 

Are tickets with incorrect info on them invalid according to law?

 

I’m sure that readers would be interested.  Thank you for your time.”

 

This brief email does indeed raise the question that many of us have thought from time to time.  If there is something wrong with the ticket do I have to pay it?

 

It is interesting to note that the writer of this email did not suggest that he had come to a full stop at the stop sign.  The only question seems to be whether or not he could use the invalid information on the ticket as his sole defense.

 

The fact that the police officers used radar is as irrelevant as the fact that they were women.  Radar is used simply to verify the speed at which a car is traveling.  The police officer must actually see you roll through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop in order for you to be convicted of this offense.  Although the police may have been using a radar device for checking the speed of traffic it really has no bearing on this ticket.

 

So now to the crux of the issue.  According to this gentleman, there were two errors on the ticket.  The first was that the license plate number was wrong.  The second was that the make and model of the car listed does not exist.  Ford does not make the Echo.  Will that be sufficient to invalidate the ticket?

 

The ticket is simply a notice that an infraction has been committed.  In order for it to be valid it must accurately state what happened, what you were doing wrong, and where you were when you were doing it.  It must also have sufficient information so as to clearly identify the person who allegedly committed the infraction.  It must also give you enough information so that you can know what exactly you are being charged so that you may properly prepare a defense.  Does this ticket do all of that?

 

Since there was no complaint it would appear that the infraction was correct (and the writer of the e-mail did actually go through the stop sign).  The date and time were properly indicated as well as the location of the offense.  In addition the reader did not say that his name or drivers license number were incorrect.

 

The error in the manufacturer of the vehicle may not be relevant since the model was accurate.  The error in the license plate however may cause a problem.

 

As a defense this gentleman could point out that is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense.  This would include proving the fact that the driver was indeed the driver of the car that they saw going through the red light.  The ticket should accurately reflect which car they saw.  This should be accurately reflected in the license plate number as well as color of the car and its manufacturer and model.

 

This ticket did not accurately do all of that.

 

However in order for the driver to prove that the license plate did not match the license plate on his car he might be asked to show his registration.  This would easily show the judge that there had just been a transcription error when the ticket was written.   Since the driver was properly identified and he did own a car that was similar if not identical to the one listed on the ticket he probably did commit the offense and should be convicted.

 

On the other hand if the judge is a stickler for detail he or she might agree that the ticket was technically invalid since it did not contain 100% accurate information.  The only true test would be pleading not guilty and going before a judge who could evaluate ALL of the evidence and make a decision based on more facts and we were given in this e-mail.

DEAR FANS OF STEERING YOU RIGHT

As you know the Gazette has decided to discontinue running Jordan Charness’ Steering You Right column that was published on Wednesdays in the driving section. They are having budget problems.

 

If you enjoy the column and want to see it back in the paper, these are the contact people you should write, email and call. Whatever you do, always ask for a reply otherwise your message will just get buried somewhere.

 

Allan Allnut , Publisher , aallnut@thegazette.canwest.com  514-987-2400

 

Raymond Brassard, Managing Editor, rbrassard@thegazette.canwest.com

direct phone number 514 -987-2508

 

The Gazette,

Suite200.

1010St.Catherine St. West

Montreal,Quebec

H3B 5L1

 

 

Please pass the word to as many people as you can.

 

Regards,

Shelley

TOP THIS

Did you ever have one of those conversations which are really just a series of stories going back and forth between you and your interlocutor (a participant in a discussion or conversation…. it’s my new word for this month). Each one of you has a similar story but you intentionally or unintentionally try to top each other.

 

Although I should have realized it before I began, I found out that I should never try a “top this” contest with Peter. It started out innocently enough when I told Peter about the time Shelley and I were driving on one of our many road trips.  Before the days of GPS she would be the navigator and I would follow her instructions to the letter.  In the course of doing so I became an expert at the U-turn since she often noticed the street that we were to turn on just after we passed it.

 

This led to a discussion about U-turn’s. Peter said that the way he remembered it from driving school was that you are not allowed to make a U-turn on any street that has a traffic light but aside from that they were always fair game.

 

I told him that I distinctly remembered my driving instructor explaining that you are always allowed to make a U-turn except when it would make you cross a solid line, or there was a sign prohibiting it, or where there was a cop (pause for effect……) directing traffic.

 

Since the Highway Safety Code agrees with me, we will go with my driving teachers’ version.

 

Not to be out done Peter told me of the time when instead of making a U-turn he decided to make a three-point turn using the inside of someone’s driveway as one of his three points.  The owner came rushing out of his house to yell out Peter telling them that it was illegal for him to trespass on his property and to get off immediately.  And of course that’s when Peter’s car ran out of gas.  He pushed it out of the driveway all the while insisting that he had done nothing wrong.

 

As a matter of fact Peter was right for a change.  As long as you don’t interfere with traffic, pedestrians, or the owner’s immediate use of the driveway, you may use the driveway for a quick turnaround even if it is technically trespassing on private property.

 

So then I told him about the time my son Dov locked his car keys in his car with the engine running in front of his friends’ driveway.  Thereby earning two tickets, one for leaving his engine running for more than three minutes and the other for blocking a driveway.  Although this event never actually happened…. at least not to Dov I wasn’t going to let Peter know that it had happened to me or get away with having the last word.  Of course I was wrong.

 

Clearly seeing that he was losing our “top this” contest, he promised that he had once received a ticket for backing up about a meter on entry ramp to the Highway because he noticed that the Highway was clogged by traffic and changed his mind about wanting to get on.

 

I didn’t believe him.  I couldn’t imagine that such an offense existed until I read section 416 of the Highway safety code which reads as follows:

 

In no case may the driver of a road vehicle drive his vehicle in reverse on a limited access highway or on an entrance or exit ramp.

 

I had to admit that Peter won.

 

Due to circumstances beyond my control I’ve been advised that this will be my last column in this paper. If you want to read more I suggest you buy my book Steering You Right Greatest Stories available at Chapters, Coles, Indigo and on my web site www.steeringyouright.com.

 

I enjoyed sharing my family stories with you as well as those of my good friend Peter and all the other characters that have populated this column for the past 11 years. I hope you had a laugh or two at Peter’s experiences and if you accidentally learned something that will save you from getting a ticket in the future…. well that’s all right too.

 

Thank you for all your positive feedback and support.

Jordan W. Charness

 

 

 

 

TOP THIS

Did you ever have one of those conversations which are really just a series of stories going back and forth between you and your interlocutor (a participant in a discussion or conversation…. it’s my new word for this month). Each one of you has a similar story but you intentionally or unintentionally try to top each other.

 

Although I should have realized it before I began, I found out that I should never try a “top this” contest with Peter. It started out innocently enough when I told Peter about the time Shelley and I were driving on one of our many road trips.  Before the days of GPS she would be the navigator and I would follow her instructions to the letter.  In the course of doing so I became an expert at the U-turn said she often noticed the street that we were to turn on just after we passed it.

 

This led to a discussion about U-turn’s. Peter said that the way he remembered it from driving school was that you are not allowed to make a U-turn on any street that has a traffic light but aside from that they were always fair game.

 

I told him that I distinctly remembered my driving instructor explaining that you are always allowed to make a U-turn except when it would make you cross a solid line, or there was a sign prohibiting it ,  or where there was a cop (pause for effect……) directing traffic.

 

Since the Highway Safety Code agrees with me, will go with my driving teachers version.

 

Not to be out done Peter told me of the time when instead of making a U-turn Peter decided to make a three-point turn using the inside of someone’s driveway as one of his three points.  The owner came rushing out of his house to yell out Peter telling them that it was illegal for him to trespass on his property and to get off immediately.  And of course that’s when Peter’s car ran out of gas.  He pushed it out of the driveway all the while insisting that he had done nothing wrong.

 

As a matter of fact he was right for a change.  As long as you don’t interfere with traffic, pedestrians, or the owner’s immediate use of the driveway, you may use the driveway for a quick turnaround even if it is technically private property.

 

So I told him about the time my son Dov locked his car keys in his car with the engine running in front of his friends’ driveway.  Thereby earning two tickets, one for leaving his engine running for more than three minutes and the other for blocking a driveway.  Although this event never actually happened…. at least not to Dov I wasn’t going to let Peter know that it had happened to me or get away with having the last word.  Of course I was wrong.

 

Clearly seeing that he was losing our “top this” contest, he promised that he had once received a ticket for backing up only about a meter on entry ramp to the Highway because he noticed that the Highway was clogged by traffic and changed his mind about wanting to get on.

 

I didn’t believe him.  I couldn’t imagine that such an offense existed until I read section 416 of the Highway safety code which reads as follows:

 

In no case may the driver of a road vehicle drive his vehicle in reverse on a limited access highway or on an entrance or exit ramp.

 

I had to admit that Peter won.

 

 

 

 

 

GREAT BIG SNOWBALL

Mary is usually the calmest of the two.  We all know that Peter has a tendency to fly off the handle and has even been known to become quite hysterical from time to time.  Mary on the other hand is a rock.

 

It made it that much more surprising when she called yesterday in quite a tizzy.  She claimed that Peter was driving her crazy — no surprise there — but even she was pretty upset by their recent turn of events.  As they were leaving their driveway the other day, Peter backed the car out of the garage and onto the driveway where he proceeded to (illegally) honk the horn in the misguided hope that his making a racket would get Mary to move a little faster and come out to the car.

 

He totally ignored the law that says honking your horn is only legal in times of emergency to warn another car or person to get out of your way.  He also forgot one of the cardinal rules of marriage which is that the more that you honk your horn the longer it will take for your spouse to appear at the door.

 

While he was sitting outside honking a great big chunk of snow and ice fell off his roof and slammed into the hood of his car causing way more damage than he would have imagined.  The engine immediately cut out and he saw a huge dent in the hood through his smashed windshield which was also a victim of Peter’s personal snow and ice avalanche.

 

While this was annoying enough what really ticked Peter and Mary off were the subsequent events.  Since his car was not able to move he called a tow truck to take it to the dealer where he had purchased the car for repairs.  He also notified his insurance company.

 

Even this type of oddball damage was covered by the “all risks all perils” sections of his insurance coverage.  He was also told to rent a car while the damage was being repaired as payment for a rental car was included in his policy.

 

And that’s when the annoyance began.  In the first place Peter’s car was a brand new, great big and expensive vehicle of a make and model that was not available for rent.  The rental car company could only give him a less impressive car than he owned. ( In actual fact he was not the full owner of the car but the finance company was the real owner until he makes all of his payments.)

 

Although he was none too happy with the less classy car he was even more unhappy when he was told by the dealer that the required parts were out of stock and that they would not be able to effect the repair for at least six weeks.  Things got even worse when after four weeks he was told to return the rental car because his insurance coverage only covered rental cars for a maximum of four weeks.

 

So four weeks after the incident Peter didn’t even have the pleasure of driving the car he hated.  He was now reduced to being a pedestrian or paying for a car rental until his car was fixed all on top of his monthly fees to the finance company.

 

Unfortunately my advice to Mary was not what she wanted to hear.  Although they were indeed in an unfortunate situation that was not of their making, all the parties were behaving properly at least according to law.  The insurance company was paying for the repairs and paid for a rental car all in accordance with the insurance contract.  The dealer was fixing the car as fast as possible given the fact that the availability of the parts was beyond their control.

 

And lastly the finance company was well within its rights to keep on collecting their monthly payments even though Peter did not have the car.  The finance company loaned him the money to buy the car and after that he was legally obligated to keep paying his monthly payments whether or not he had use of the vehicle.

THAR SHE BLOWS

No good deed goes unpunished.”  (Clare Boothe Luce 1903 – 1987).  While I don’t know the context of the original quote and whether or not Mme. Luce was being cynical or humorous at the time it is a sentiment that pops into mind from time to time just like it did today.

 

Today I woke up and it was still dark out.  While not entirely pleasant this is not unusual during the winter months.  I opened the front door to retrieve the morning’s paper only to find that for some reason the paper had not yet arrived.  On the other hand at least three weeks worth of newspapers were scattered along my driveway sitting in the slush.  We have been pretty good about recycling and are sure to toss all of our paper and most of our cans into the recycling box and take them out to the curb the night before recycling is picked up just like the law requires.

 

The law however did not take into account the fact that we had an incredibly windy night and even windier morning — hence the newspaper collage on my driveway.  So I put on a pair of boots, threw a ski jacket over my night clothes and trudged out into the early morning cold to clean up the recycling mess and make sure that the newspaper carrier when he finally did arrive would not trip on the papers on my driveway and sue me as might conceivably be his legal right.

 

While I was bending over in a none-to-flattering pose a large dark shape zipped over my body where my head used to be and went flying out into the street where it smacked into a parked car.  The noise of course startled me causing me to drop all those wet papers to allow the wind to pick them up and redistribute them once again all over my driveway. I also noticed that the flying saucer was actually the lid of a garbage can that had been picked up by the wind and dented my neighbour’s car.

 

There were only two good things that could be said about that winter morning situation.  1) it wasn’t my car and 2) it wasn’t my garbage can lid.

 

According to law the owner of an object that causes damage is responsible for the damage that was caused by his or her object.  In this case when my neighbour came out to find a dent in his car he could theoretically claim damages from my other neighbour who owned the garbage can and its misbehaving lid.

 

 

A case could also be made that this was actually an event that was covered by the legal term “act of God” which is defined by Barrons dictionary as a”Violent and catastrophic event caused by forces of nature, which could not have been prevented or avoided by foresight or prudence.”  Since the damage to the car was caused by the wind the owner of a garbage can might escape liability according to this dictum.  On the other hand since we all knew that it was going to be a windy day perhaps the owner of the garbage can should have been sure to have retrieved his can and store it inside so that it would not cause damage.

 

In any case either one of them could turn the claim over to their insurance company who would most likely be required to pay since damage like this would normally be covered by both car owners and homeowners policies.

 

To put a lovely end to my early morning excursion when I later backed my car out of my garage I ran into my recycling boxes which had been emptied by the recycler and then blown off my yard into my driveway.  To add insult to injury when I got out to retrieve my crushed recycling boxes my hat blew off my head.  I just let it go allowing the wind to be the complete victor for the day all the while remembering that this had all begun by my trying to do the good deed of recycling.

 

HE PASSED!!!

A few weeks ago I wrote a column describing my son Dov’s apprehensions and experiences preparing for his upcoming driving test and promised to let you know how it worked out.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive several e-mails and letters from you wishing Dov good luck and including some helpful pointers on what he should do in order to pass the test.  I shared these tips with him and we both found them very useful.

 

As you may recall Dov described himself as “just about the greatest driver inNorth America” and was sure that he would ace the test.  It was a much more nervous 16-year-old who got into my car on test day.  Naturally I let him drive to the testing station and we carefully reviewed all of the things that he would need to get right in order to pass the test.

 

Prospective drivers are tested on at least eight different sections of driving including pre-driving habits like fastening the seatbelt and adjusting mirrors, starting procedures like using a signal before moving and they are checked on their ability to drive in a straight line without weaving, following too closely or speeding.

 

Their turns are also carefully monitored to make sure that they turn at the proper speed into the appropriate lane after signalling and checking the blind spots.  Stop signs and traffic lights are another area that is verified including making sure that the stop is made at the right place – neither too far before or after the stop sign.

 

Lane changes and passing are another area looked at in great detail with the most important (as many of you wrote to me) requirement of checking the blind spot before changing carefully monitored by the tester.  Parking and backing up as well as properly controlling the vehicle make up the last requirements for passing the test and getting a driver’s license.

 

By the time we got to the license bureau we had a pretty apprehensive six-foot one teenager.  Although we had expected a long wait, Dov was taken out to take his driving test about 45 minutes after his scheduled appointment.  Although the 45 minutes seemed to pass fairly quickly for me it was apparently an eternity for Dov.

 

The test itself lasted about 25 minutes and according to Dov flew by while for me the wait seemed to last forever.  When he finally returned he had a big goofy smile plastered on his face and I knew that he must have passed the test.

 

Apparently he did all the driving things just fine but when it came to parallel parking he totally messed up on the first try.  His second try was no better and the tester stopped him in the middle and told him that if he continued he would have hit one of the other cars which would have been an immediate failure.  Instead the tester told him that as his driving was really excellent he would pass him if he promised to go home and learn how to park.  So it turns out that “just about the best driver in North America” really is a good driver but he’s just about the worst parallel parker inNorth America.  And I guess we’ll be in the car together practicing his parking until he finally gets it right.