Friday, February 5, 2010

The grace period is over... drivers will now be fined for using hand held devices

If you are one of those drivers who is still using your cell phone without a hands free device... BEWARE!

Up until Jan 31, 2010, police officers were approaching drivers with warnings, as this was an attempt to educate drivers about the ban on hand held devices (a law which prohibits use of hand held electronic devices that went into effect in October 2009 in Ontario). There were 3260 warnings handed out to drivers. There were, however, "extenuation circumstances", according to Insp. Dave Ross of the OPP, where 64 charges were laid during this period.

As of Feb 1, 2010, the education period expired. Drivers being charged with this offence will now be fined $155. So, there must have been hundreds of drivers charged with this offence on Feb 1st, right? Quite the opposite, in fact, drivers have been surprisingly compliant. Sgt Tim Burrows said, "I didn't expect there to be this much compliance this fast. I literally can't believe this - there's nothing. It makes me very, very happy." On Monday, Sgt Burrows was aware of only 12 tickets laid across the city.

So, it seems that since the drivers are complying with the new law, that our streets will finally become safer. But is it only the act of dialing and holding on to a cell phone that is distracting, or is it the conversation they are engaged in that is distracting? Regardless of whether it is a hands free device, studies show that talking on a cell phone is extremely distracting for drivers. There is other distracting behavior that drivers need to be aware of as well. For example, drinking coffee, eating a sandwich, putting on make-up, brushing their hair, dealing with children in the back seat... the list goes on and on.

If this law is a step towards cracking down on drivers with these bad habits, then the safety of all drivers and pedestrians may be greatly increased. However, if this law is just going to target drivers who happened to check a quick text message while they were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, or at a red light, then public safety does not seem like the primary objective of the ban; it seems more like a "cash grab".

Time will tell if the law has decreased accidents related to distracted driving, but in the mean time, use your hands free device if you MUST answer that call, and try to break ALL of your bad habits that can potentially distract you from your goal of reaching your intended destination. Who knows what kind of ban Ontario will think of next?!?

Drive Safe!

Sukh Nagra - Traffic Ticket Solutions Law Firm

Monday, January 18, 2010

Traffic ticket myths

A myth is defined as: A traditional, ancient or legendary story; any invented story, idea or concept or an unproved or false collective belief.

Many of us have heard of certain myths when it comes to the topic of traffic tickets. Below are five of the most common traffic ticket myths that have been circulating about for some time.

  1. A police officer must show radar reading if asked

    • The myth is that if the officer is asked to show the reading and does not or is unable to, the ticket is not valid.

    • This belief is false. An officer is not obliged to show the driver the reading. Often times, the reading is already re-set by the time the officer leaves the cruiser. This is not a valid defence in court, as the officer’s notes are sufficient evidence.

  2. Placing aluminum foil strips in hubcaps/rims will prevent your vehicle from being detected by radar

    • The myth is that aluminum foil interferes with the radar signal.

    • If you are aware of the principles of radar detection, then you already know that aluminum and other metals DO NOT affect the radar (as your car is made of metal as well!)

    • Radar uses electromagnetic waves to identify the speed of the moving or fixed object. The waves bounce off your car and back to the radar unit.

  3. Red cars are more likely to receive more tickets

    • The myth is that officers target red cars more than any other car and you are more likely to receive tickets.

    • There is no official study to confirm that red cars get more tickets. However, some suggest that the bold colour tends to attract more attention, including that of police officers.

  4. You cannot get into trouble for driving too slowly

    • The myth is that you can drive as slow as you wish because the posted speed limit is just that: a LIMIT and any speed under the limit is fine.

    • Driving too slowly can be dangerous for a number of reasons. You may cause an accident if you are extremely slow, you may encourage other drivers to perform risky maneuvers around you, etc.

    • A police officer may issue you a ticket if he/she believes your driving is dangerous to others.

  5. You can fool the breathalyzer

    • The myth is that you can fool the breathalyzer reading by sucking on a breath mint or using mouthwash.

    • A breathalyzer does not smell your breath, it measures the amount of alcohol in your blood.

    • Others say that putting a penny in your mouth can trick the breathalyzer into giving a false reading.

    • The copper in the penny cannot interfere with the breathalyzer. It has been repeatedly disproven in multiple studies.

These were some of the more common myths that people have heard. As you can see, they do not have any legitimate studies that can prove them. As long as you use your common sense, it will be evident to you that these are nothing more than fictitious stories that continue to circulate around the web, newspaper article or at the water cooler at work.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter driving does not have to be stressful anymore!

If you follow some basic guidelines and tips and keep your vehicle “winter-ready”, you can avoid stressful and dangerous situations.

Drive according to highway and weather conditions. If it is raining or snowing, you must drive according to these conditions. But be alert, in the winter, there is the danger of black ice as well. You might think that the roads are clear, but there could be black ice around any corner. With icy roads and poor traction, your car may go into a skid upon braking. Most skids result from driving too fast for road or traffic conditions. Once in a skid, steer in the direction of the skid.

Spacing must also be taken into consideration. This is where the “Two-Second Rule” comes in:

  • Pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign or telephone pole

  • When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, start counting the seconds

  • When the front of your vehicle reaches the marker, stop counting. If you reach the marker before you can count to Two Seconds, you are following too closely.
NOTE: In severe winter conditions, double the Two-Second Rule

Vehicle preparation and tips:

Get a winter maintenance check up on your vehicle. Make sure your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, tires, exhaust system, heater, defroster, wipers and ignition system are all checked by a mechanic. Keep your fuel tank sufficiently full — at least half a tank is recommended. Make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid in the reservoir as well. It should be rated a minimum of -40 degrees Celsius and keep an extra jug in your vehicle.

Clear all snow and ice from all windows, lights and mirrors. Try to clear snow off of your hood and roof as well. This will help with blowing snow reducing your visibility as well as the visibility of those driving behind you.

Have your tires checked or replaced before winter begins. Winter tires are recommended above all-season tires. Remember to check tire air pressure frequently, as it decreases in cold weather.

The following items are recommended for the comfort and safety of you and your passengers should you become stranded:

  • Ice scraper/snowbrush

  • Shovel

  • Sand or other traction aid

  • Tow rope or chain

  • Booster cables

  • Road flares or warning lights

  • Gas line antifreeze

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Small tool kit

  • Extra clothing and footwear

  • Blanket

  • Non-perishable energy foods – such as granola bars, juice, water

  • Candle and matches
If you get stuck or stranded, the survival kit will come in very handy. Make sure that you don’t panic and stay to stay with your vehicle for safety and warmth. Draw attention to your vehicle. Use emergency flashers, flares or “Call Police” sign if needed.

Follow these guidelines and tips and help make everyone’s winter driving experience a safe one.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

With the new year comes harsher Ontario traffic ticket penalties

As we get ready to celebrate a new year, Ontario police are getting ready for the new year traffic ticket blitzes. Most years we see higher police presence on the streets from speed traps to R.I.D.E. programs targeted at catching the impaired drivers, but this year we will see something a little different.

Starting January 1st 2010, Ontario police will be targeting aggressive drivers with new and hefty fines and consequences being imposed for existing traffic ticket offences; some of the fines being up to quadruple what they are now!

One of the biggest penalty increases is for failing to pull over for an emergency vehicle or for following an emergency vehicle too closely. At the present time the maximum fine for a first time offence is $500 which will jump to $2000 in the new year along with 3 demerit points and possible 2 year licence suspension. Repeat offenders could be facing a maximum of $4000, demerit points, licence suspensions and even a possibility of a jail sentence of up to 6 months.

Other notable fine increases:

Failing To Stop At a Red Light
Current Maximum: $500
New Maximum: $1000

Seatbelt Infractions
Current Maximum: $500
New Maximum: $1000

Careless Driving
Current Maximum: $1000
New Maximum: $2000 (possible licence suspensions and jail time remain the same)

Staff Sgt. Steve Bodri of the Windsor police traffic branch said “In the new year we’re going to start some campaigns to target aggressive driving. If it requires writing more tickets, then we will.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

Toronto JP likely to be removed from bench

As we had anticipated in a previous blog post,Toronto Justice of Peace, Jorge Barroilhet, has been recommended to be removed from office for misconduct.

Barroilhet was found guilty of judicial misconduct earlier this year in July and submissions were heard in September 2009, with the results of the submissions being released in mid October 2009. The Toronto Star reports that panelists that heard the submissions are putting in a recommendation to the Attorney General, Chris Bentley, that Barroilhet be stripped of his JP duties and taken off bench.

For further information see the following articles:

Justice of the Peace on the carpet over misconduct
Take JP off bench, panel urges