Fighting a ticket in court?

Preparing for trial? Request disclosure

I'm always amazed at the amount of poorly qualified or outright incorrect information on the web when I search for traffic enforcement related information.

One popular topic that seems especially mistreated is disclosure of the Crown's evidence prior to trial.

The authors of the articles would have you believe that you should ask for everything, including the brand of ink in the officer's pen, and when any of it is refused, the ticket will automatically be dismissed.

If you are considering a ticket dispute, you may choose to write to the officer who issued the ticket and request disclosure.

Do this at the same time that you enter your dispute so that there is plenty of time for the officer to comply. This way if you have any questions after receiving disclosure you will have time to ask for clarification before the trial date.

If you simply request disclosure, you should receive a synopsis of the evidence that the officer will be presenting during the trial.

You may request specific disclosure for information about the officer's qualifications, what kind of speed measuring instrument was used or for a copy of any evidence that will be presented, such as photos, videos or witness statements.

The court will support all reasonably justified requests. Photocopies of copyrighted material such as the radar operation manual will be refused, although you could expect to attend to the detachment and view a copy to make notes from.

Copies of all tickets the officer issued that day and the outcome of any trials related to them, servicing records for the police vehicle, reports of all disciplinary actions against the officer or other such requests will likely not be upheld by the court.

With electronic tickets, the officer no longer makes handwritten notes. Rather than a photocopy, a print out of the notes could be requested.

You've requested disclosure, received nothing from the officer and your court date is either rapidly approaching or at hand.

What should you do?

There are two options open to you:

  • Send another request
  • Apply for an adjournment at the commencement of your trial.

It is possible that your original request did not reach the officer and the reminder will produce what you need.

If disclosure has not arrived in reasonable time, or not at all and you are in court being asked to enter a plea you could decline to do so and request that the matter be adjourned.

Ask that the justice direct the officer to provide disclosure and make the next appearance peremptory on the prosecution.

Another option is to ask the justice to adjourn and advise that you will be making an application to have your trial moved to provincial court in order to make application under the Charter to have it dismissed for lack of disclosure.

If you are considering the latter it would be wise to seek proper legal advice to prepare.

The Canadian Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service will direct you to counsel that specializes in your matter and provide a free 30-minute consultation.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/miscellaneous/preparing-trial-request-disclosure


Give me a brake!

One would think that there was a weekend push, pull or drag sale on trailers.

I once checked three of them on a Friday evening and found:

  • One that was too heavy for a surge brake
  • Another that didn't have functioning brakes
  • A third that needed brakes, but was not equipped with them.

The trailer without functional brakes was being towed by a class one driver, and the other two by drivers who likely didn't know any better.

Electric trailer brake systems can be complicated to set up and are often misadjusted. Hydraulic surge brakes don't require anything of the driver except testing and maintenance.

It was clear that none of these drivers had done a pre-trip inspection of their trailer before they left the driveway.

A hydraulic surge brake cannot be used where the total weight of the trailer and it's load is more than
2,800 kg.

When it is this heavy, the driver must have a means of applying the trailer brakes separately from the tow vehicle brakes from where the driver is seated in the cab.

A combination electric and hydraulic brake is most commonly used on boat trailers for this purpose.

The class one driver was clearly negligent. The breakaway brake activation lever and cable was missing entirely from his trailer.

A quick look inside the master cylinder on the surge brake revealed that there was no fluid inside it. This trailer should never have left the yard.

The third trailer weighed just under 1,400 kg and the driver towing it said that he had been told by the business that sold it to him that it was not heavy enough to require brakes.

The net weight (shown on his vehicle registration document) of the vehicle he had chosen to tow the trailer with was just over 1,800 kg.

This means that the trailer and load cannot weigh more than half of that figure or 900 kg if it is to operate without brakes.

All three drivers had no clear idea how much their trailer weighed. The only sure way to know this is to go to a scale and have it weighed. Once that is accomplished, it is time to consider brake requirements.

For the simplest cases, if the total weight of the trailer and load is under 1,400 kg but more than 50% of the net weight of the towing vehicle, brakes are required.

If it weighs 1,400 kg or more, brakes are required. If it weighs more than 2,800 kg a surge brake cannot be used and a different braking system is required.

Lastly, a word about breakaway brakes. These are required on trailers that weigh 1,400 kg or more when loaded.

They are designed to stop the trailer and hold it stopped for a minimum of 15 minutes should it accidentally disconnect from the tow vehicle. Don't attach the lanyard for activating the brake to the hitch assembly or safety chains.

Attach it somewhere else on the tow vehicle so that if the hitch fails the brake will still activate.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/towing/give-me-brake

Why not obey the rules?

I had an interesting conversation with a driver at the roadside one morning.

I had stopped him for driving at 107 km/h in the posted 80 km/h zone entering a high collision area on Highway 4 east of Port Alberni.

Speed is a particular problem as a primary contributor to collisions there.

"Why are you writing me a ticket for this? I wasn't driving dangerously," was his response to my request for his documents.

I explained about the high collision rate due to speed in the highway segment he was about to enter.

"It's a bright sunny day with dry roads and light traffic. I'm not causing any problems for other drivers by choosing to drive at this speed," he countered.

I responded with comments on highway design speed, how he had no control over what other drivers on the highway might do and as a licensed driver he had a responsibility to follow the rules of the road.

He signed for a copy of his ticket and told me that this was a small price to pay for driving at whatever speed he wished.

here were few traffic enforcement personnel on the road and he was rarely stopped, so it was not expensive in the long run compared to the benefit of spending less time in his car traveling from place to place.

He clearly had no intention of slowing down.

Speaking of price, I often hear of speeding fines being nothing more than a cash grab by government. If our politicians really wanted us to follow the speed limit, they would require vehicles to be limited to following them.

Ontario and Quebec are the only provinces that have implemented this, and then only on heavy commercial vehicles. They are limited to a top speed of 105 km/h.

Europe will require that vehicles manufactured after April 2022 incorporate mandatory safety features that include intelligent speed assistance. It will be a required retrofit for existing vehicles by May 2024.

They expect intelligent speed assistance to reduce fatal collisions by 20%.

I am at one end of the spectrum of drivers. I believe that one must follow the traffic rules properly at all times so that other drivers know what to expect from me.

This enables them to make decisions in the operation of their vehicle based on those rules and we will not interfere or collide with each other.

This driver is nearer to the other end, where they pick and choose which rules suit them to follow, if they choose to follow the rules at all. Perhaps speed limits are the only rule that this driver doesn't follow.

Which one of the two of us is correct? Does the right answer lie somewhere in between? Society's conventions do change over time, but I think that this attitude is overdue for a change.

It is not socially acceptable to choose to ignore the traffic rules that are put in place to keep us all safe on the highways of British Columbia.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/aggressive-driving/speeding


'Tis the season of noise

I've been looking forward to eating a meal on our back deck and enjoying the warm sunshine outdoors for a while now.

Last evening was the first comfortable opportunity, so my wife and I took advantage of it. The breeze was rustling the branches, the birds were chirping, the frogs were peeping and the motorcycles were rumbling.

Why don't the police charge drivers of motorcycles with no or ineffective mufflers? I'm a bit surprised that these seasonal complaints haven't started showing up in the DriveSmartBC inbox yet.

For enforcement personnel, the situation of no muffler at all is probably the easiest to deal with. A quick examination of the pipe will reveal no obstruction and a ticket can be issued.

The explanation in court is a simple one and the traffic court justice is assured of the situation making a conviction more easily obtained.

Having an inadequate muffler is where the difficulty lies at roadside.

While the regulations are clear that the opinion of the inspector is sufficient, the traffic court justice is not so easily assured and without an independent witness or a measurement with a decibel meter, a conviction is not nearly as easily obtained.

The next problem is that decibel levels are specified for an inspection facility, not the side of the highway where the police operate. The levels would serve as a guideline, but are not definitive.

Tickets issued under the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (MVAR) for exhaust system violations specifically are few and far between.

That said, about 3,600 tickets are issued under section 219(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), the "catch all" section for vehicle defects each year.

Some municipalities have incorporated noise rules into their traffic bylaws that may be used instead of the MVA and MVAR.

Instead of issuing a violation ticket, police may choose to issue an inspection order instead. Here's what the inspection manual that guides a Designated Inspection Facility says about motorcycle noise emissions:

The opinion of an inspector as to whether the engine and exhaust noise emission is greater than that made by other vehicles in good condition of comparable size, horsepower, piston displacement or compression ratio shall determine whether exhaust gases are expelled with excessive noise.

Must be comparable to OEM and confirmed with decibel meter.

  • Equipped with any noise-enhancing device
  • Confirm noise emission level with decibel meter for any vehicle with non-OEM, modified or altered exhaust system

ICBC does not publish data on vehicle inspection orders #1 and #2 issued by police, so there is no indication of how often this tool is used to try and solve the problem.

Having a loud exhaust to some riders is either a safety or a lifestyle issue.

"Loud pipes save lives" is a common justification, but according to the Canada MotoGuide, they do not. Most collisions are frontal-look-but-didn't-see incidents.

Regardless of the action that the police might take, sometimes the exhaust is not going to be repaired, or will be repaired long enough to pass inspection and then put back the way it was in the first instance.

Oh, and for the record, the police do deal with motorcycles that have loud exhaust systems.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/motorcycles/motorcycle-mufflers

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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