Q: I was recently stopped by police and ticketed for failing to stop at a 4-way stop sign under section 136(1)(a) of the Highway Traffic Act. I think I may have stopped, but it may have been a case of a rolling stop. The officer said he had me on tape, which I presume means video.
On the ticket, I notice he incorrectly wrote down the location as being one intersection east of the actual location he verbally claimed the offence had occurred.
There is no way he could have observed me at the location written on the ticket, as he was parked on the cross street on the next intersection westbound.
A: Stephen Parker, a licensed paralegal with Pointts (www.pointts.com), a traffic ticket defence firm, replies:
At trial, the charge will be read from the details on the certificate of offence (i.e. the ticket). The location will be given as Road X and Road B. The defendant would presumably, enter a plea of not guilty to that charge.
The officer may well give the correct location, Road X at Road A in his evidence. The prosecutor will probably pick up on it and query the different location on the certificate of offence. The officer may well indicate that was an error and the correct location is as he stated. The prosecutor will then ask the Justice of the Peace to amend the certificate of offence to conform to the officer’s evidence.
This is permitted under section 34(2) of the Provincial Offences Act. Note that under subsection 34(3)(b), a variance between the place noted on the certificate and that given in evidence is not material, except in an issue of jurisdiction of the court. (Likewise, an incorrect time of day on the certificate is also not considered a fatal error.)
Even if the officer does testify that the location was as he wrote, Road X and Road B, after the prosecution closes its case, the defendant will be asked if he wishes to testify on his own behalf.
What usually happens in these circumstances is that the defendant will get in the witness stand and give evidence under oath or affirmation and describe the precise location the officer spoke to him about after he pulled him over, namely Road X at Road A, and state that what is written on the ticket is wrong.
The prosecutor will then request to amend the certificate of offence to conform to the evidence as given by the defendant. The defendant then has no clue what just happened thinking that it’s a sure win once he pointed out the error.
It’s all a bit of a “Catch-22” really.
This is where an experienced Traffic Ticket Specialist can explain and argue for you.
Eric Lai adds:
If representing yourself, challenge the officer’s testimony in cross-examination with respect to the correct location, rather than testifying yourself.
Specifically, question whether the officer being parked on Road A has any video of the alleged offence occurring at Road B. Also, question his view of the stop line, his odd position/angle of observation to determine if an improper stop occurred, and whether a stop sign is even posted at Road B. If there’s a stop line, is it faded?
The point is to undermine witness credibility by having them concede under oath that their previous testimony was incorrect, if this is the case.
Is this is an unfair tactic?
No. This is exactly what the prosecution aims to do to you if you testify.
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