I haven't been hanging out here for awhile, but for those of you who don't remember... Last year I got a huge ticket, massive. I decided to dispute it and went to court last week.
Ticket is now gone, fines gone. Like it never existed. Tossed out by the Judge. I am a happy camper and just wanted to share that with all you wonderful people.
I feel that I owed it to you after getting so much help and advice while I was quite distressed over it.
This is lengthy but for you interest.
Date of offenses: June 2003
Vehicle: 1998 Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R
On the above date, a Saturday evening, at 1900 hours, I was pulled over by a Surrey RCMP officer on 104th Ave in Surrey. I promptly got off my bike and had my helmet off, with my license and insurance papers ready in hand. When the officer stepped out of his car, in which an attractive female ride-along was also sitting, he astonished me by telling me to put my hands behind my back and that he was arresting me for dangerous driving. The police officer told me that he had seen me riding at one hundred forty kilometers per hour, and that he had observed me weaving in and out of traffic.
I had a distinct impression that he was trying to be a big shot and show off for his ride-along. Of course, I was very intimidated and nervous for a number of reasons. First, I had never been arrested before or been in any trouble with the law, other than simple speeding tickets. Second, the guy was just plain intimidating being a large, stocky guy with a shaved head, and he was yelling at me before I even understood why or what I had done to make him so angry. Thirdly, I cannot afford to get any kind of criminal record, which is of course what this would result in.
So there I was, sitting ‘cuffed in the back of a squad car, with my bike parked riderless on the side of the road. I finally convinced the cop that I had not seen him and that that was the only reason I had not pulled over sooner. He decided to give me the choice of being arrested, going to jail and probably losing my license, or receiving a ticket with a hefty fine. No brainer, I chose the ticket, and he handed me a ticket with three charges with associated fines amounting to $900. With the thirteen points that would have been tacked on to my license, I would have ended up paying $1900 - $2200 in total.
After he uncuffed me, he warned me not to try disputing the ticket, adding that they could always take away my license after the fact (not true). I of course immediately decided that not only would I dispute it, but that I had a good chance to defeat it.
So I am pleased to now say that the ticket was tossed out in court, even though the cop did show up. The cop said a couple dumb things in court, like saying that there was a flag person where the construction was on 104th, even though it was 7:00pm on a Saturday. He also said that he saw me pass though the intersection at a high rate of speed, even though I had been stopped at the red light behind another vehicle.
These are the notes that I wrote out for myself for the court hearing. I intended to plead not guilty to all charges and read out my version of the events in the hope that I would cast doubt on his evidence, and what he saw.
Regarding the charge of “Passing on the right”
This occurred at the intersection of 120th street (Scott Road) and 96th Ave in Surrey.
I was Northbound in the right lane. The police officer was apparently at the Shell gas station on the Northeast corner, I did not see him.
I was the second vehicle in the right lane at the light, I could not see through the intersection to the other side. When the light turned green, traffic moved, and the vehicle in front of me changed lanes. Now able to see what was ahead I was surprised that my lane ended abruptly. Not being familiar with this intersection and being unable to see any signs that may indicate the change ahead, I was caught off guard. Looking beside and behind me I saw a solid line of cars, but slightly ahead in the left lane was a gap. I knew that I had the advantage on my motorcycle of rapid acceleration, and that I could quickly and easily accelerate into this space. I also knew that if I chose the alternative, stopping where I was until the left lane opened enough for me to merge; I was running a risk of being rear-ended by any cars that were coming up behind me. Anyone coming up behind me would be concentrating on merging as well, focusing on the traffic in the left lane and not on the road in front of them, they also may not be planning on stopping. I have experienced similar circumstances before and have heard many stories of motorcyclists being severely injured by drivers who simply did not see them. I personally have a distinct fear of being run over or becoming sandwiched between two cars.
When there is any danger or risk involved whatsoever in a maneuver I need to make while on my motorcycle, I would much rather accelerate away from the problem and worry about what I can at least see in front of me, than submit myself to a danger behind me that I cannot see and cannot control. To me it is just a much safer place to be, especially since I do not have the luxury of having a steel cage around me to protect me.
I feel that the design of the intersection where one lane ends as this one did created a hazardous condition and put me in a dangerous situation that I had no intention of being in. I therefore feel that the design of the intersection itself was an unexpected problem and that I reacted with the safest and best response that I could have under the circumstances.
Regarding the charge of “Driving without due care and attention”
After crossing the intersection of Scott Road and 96th Ave and merging into the single lane, I continued Northbound on Scott Road. I was initially behind a transit bus, but when it pulled over at its next stop I continued on with no other vehicles ahead of me. At this point, Scott Road has a steep downhill grade with S turns down to the bottom of the hill.
When a motorcycle rider is riding on a road like this, he has to devote all of his concentration on a number of things. Besides the action of keeping the motorcycle under control, he needs to consider his speed going into a turn, the grade of the road, the radius of the turn, his track, and the amount of lean required. He also needs to consider things in or on the road itself which are of no concern to a car but are a hazard to motorcycles. A rider has to be alert for any kind of debris on the road such as sand or gravel, which would cause a motorcycle to slide out from under the rider in a turn, to very simple things like manhole covers, which are numerous in every single road and can often be very slippery causing the same results. All these things must be avoided. Even in the course of avoiding these obstacles, the rider must choose another track, which affects those things mentioned earlier.
A rider has to always be alert, and must always intently focus primarily on the road in front of him to ride safely, especially in a turn. Only when on a straight road is a rider able to safely shoulder check safely and see what is behind him. Not only could I not safely shoulder check while riding down this winding hill, but the stock mirrors on my motorcycle are only three inches wider than my shoulders on either side when I wear my motorcycle jacket, which for personal safety I always wear. This means that my arms and shoulders block most of the view in my mirrors. My view of what is directly behind me is blocked completely, and I can only see the lane on either side of me. By design, it is difficult for a sport bike rider to see behind him, especially in a turn. This is a major reason why I did not see the police car.
I would not want you to believe that I am not an alert and attentive rider. In fact, before I earned my motorcycle license or bought a motorcycle I completed a motorcycle defensive riding course with Action Motorcycle school. There I was taught how to ride safely and responsibly, I learned the skills of observation and risk assessment, and shown how to ride within my abilities. I am also a commercially licensed pilot. Flying an airplane does not allow room for error, therefore, I have had ingrained into my mind the attitude that safety is the single most important thing.
I know that I need to be alert and observant or I will have a very short career and possibly, life. My point here is to state that I was riding with all the care and attention that I could possibly have, and that is the way that I always ride, drive, and fly.
As I understand the facts, the officer would have seen me merging into the left lane, and though he has stated that his vehicle was in drive and that he was about to pull out of the gas station, he still would have pulled out on the road behind a line of four or five cars. By the time he would have been able to move ahead of all the cars and the bus, I would have already been halfway down the hill. At any point along this stretch of Scott Road, it would have been impossible for me to have seen the police car in my mirrors. The only way that I may have been able to see him would be to turn my head to look directly behind me, something that would have been very dangerous for me to do at that time. He would have also been at least ten to fifteen seconds behind me. I could not hear his siren because of the noise of the motorcycle engine, the muffling effect of the helmet, and the wind noise around my head. I turned right on 104th Ave, and rode up that hill, making sure that I was within the speed limit as I entered the residential area. At the top of the hill, I was required to slow right down to a crawl because the road surface had been torn up and there was gravel all over the road, one of the hazards to motorcycles that I mentioned earlier. About ten to fifteen seconds after reaching the top of the hill on 104th Ave, I heard a siren. This was the first time that I had heard the siren. When I looked back I saw a police cruiser cresting the hill behind me. This was also the first I had seen of the police car and I of course pulled over immediately, believing that the car would be driving right past me enroute to a call. I was quite surprised when he pulled up directly behind me because I did not realize that I had done anything wrong.
I know from what he said to me, that the officer believed that I was running from him, which was absolutely not the case. When I finally convinced him that I was not, he felt that my reasoning for not having noticed him was not good enough, and charged me with driving without due care and attention. In telling you in my own words what happened, I have been trying to show you how it was not possible for me to have noticed the police officer or his police cruiser before I did and that I do not deserve this charge and associated fine.
Regarding the charge of “Excessive Speeding”
As for the charge of excessive speeding, I do not know for a fact exactly how fast I was traveling. I do know, however, that I could not have possibly been going at the alleged speed of 140kph, as specified in the officer’s spoken evidence. I further believe that the reason that the officer did not catch up to me sooner than he did was owing not to speed but to other factors such as traffic.
Note: (the cop didn’t clock me, and really did not know how fast I was going, in fact, he asked me. I told him I didn’t know.)