Re: Inconsistent radar testing casts doubt

canada speeding

Today CBC news published an article titled “Inconsistent radar testing casts doubt on validity of millions of speeding tickets”. For your reference, see the article written by Marnie Luke, Lori Ward, and CBC News here: www.cbc.ca/news/canada/speeding-tickets

This article has gained some traction through social media today, and is starting to become a topic of conversation in some circles. It is very important that in reading this article, we take this information with a grain of salt and understand what this means in a practical sense to anyone who unfortunately finds themselves charged with a Speeding offence.

First and foremost, this article would not constitute a legal defence to the charge of Speeding. Basically meaning that anyone charged with a Speeding offence cannot simply take this article into court and see the ticket “thrown out”. However, what this article does effectively accomplish is re-enforcing the proper analysis of the police officer’s evidence in all cases to form a proper answer and defence to any charge.

The evidence is easily the most important part of trying to defend any charge (not just speeding). Prior to conducting a trial, there is a massive benefit in having a professional review the evidence against you and make sure that all the elements needed at court to convict are present. This material would go in conjunction with, and ultimately act as a “preview” to the verbal testimony expected from the officer should they be called upon to provide their evidence at trial.

Where this gets much more complicated is that (as the article touches on), officers in the province of Ontario do not use 1 single type of radar device which is standard across the province. There are many different types of radar devices, which work differently, are used differently, and therefore are calibrated differently. The element of using forks and other calibration tools are not always required depending on what type of radar device is being used, but can be simply seen as “good practice”. Generally, there are only a small number of radar devices used in Ontario that this would definitively apply to. If you have read the article, (although relevant) most of the information is cited from outside the Province of Ontario or from the USA.

In fact, most officers in the GTA (for example), no longer use traditional radar devices, and are more often equipped with laser devices as the article mentions. There are also many features, makes, and models of these devices (just as with radar units) and rather than using the principal of the Doppler effect to gauge the variables necessary to calculate speed, laser devices use the universal constant of the speed of light making them arguably more accurate.

Now, this is not to say that the issues surrounding testing and calibrating these devices are not important. There is a vast amount of weight placed on how those devices work and in being able to actually prove that the speed the officers device indicated is correct. The article does make a very agreeable point in that we need to constantly ensure that these standards are adhered to 100% of the time. If the device is not working properly, or for whatever reason the officer is simply not testing/using the device properly, the measure of speed cannot be proven accurate.

The bottom line here is that there is no “one size fits all” issue to be raised in speeding cases. No matter how common something may sound, to properly defend yourself you need to review the evidence against you subjectively, and research the elements of the offence that have to be satisfied in order for the Prosecutor to be able to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is where having a professional on your side that is versed in all the nuances becomes an asset. Not only do they know what to look for in the evidence, what to expect at the trial but also what questions to ask the officer to expose any potential weaknesses in the crown’s case.

Finally at the end of the day, it is the Justice of the Peace presiding over the case that must be convinced of the issue at hand, and sometimes, even though you may have what you believe are all the facts, the Justice of the Peace may not concur.

I think what might be a more accurate point of view for this article is the general advice to challenge your tickets. Not in the sense of always running trials and fighting every tiny little issue to the bitter end, but to have that chance to see the evidence against you to make an informed decision (or to conduct a defence if one is available to you). The Ontarian’s who have really been given the shorter end of the stick are those who just pay their tickets and plead guilty outright without looking at the full picture.

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