Thursday, July 23, 2009

OPP Officer Charged with Falsely Charging Drivers with Stunt Driving

In late May 2009, 12 year veteran of the OPP, Sgt. Dennis Mahoney-Bruer, 49, was charged with 3 counts of breach of trust and one count of attempting to obstruct justice for allegedly charging three drivers with false speeding and/or stunt driving tickets. The OPP have not released any information on what the catalyst may have been to trigger the investigation or what Mahoney-Bruer’s motive was, but The Toronto Star reported that “owners and managers of Mississauga towing companies say OPP detectives have been asking them if they had ever paid Mahoney-Bruer to use their services or heard about Mahoney-Bruer allegedly receiving kickbacks from other towing companies.”

Since the charges were laid, Mahoney-Bruer was suspended with pay and was scheduled to appear in court on July 13th 2009. Information on the proceedings of this court date has yet to be released.

Since this incident first came available to the public, we at
Traffic Ticket Solutions have received numerous calls from concerned clients wondering if this could happen with one police officer, could the officer that charged them be wrong too? As in any profession, obviously human error can occur when police officers issue traffic tickets. If they didn’t, services such as ours would not exist! Clients hire us because they feel an injustice has been done and to find any mistakes an officer may have made in the process in issuing them the ticket. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the officer’s intentionally make these mistakes, but human error is unavoidable and the case of Mahoney-Bruer is definitely not the norm.

Two of the allegedly false charges laid were
Section 172.1 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) Stunt Driving / Speed Racing. Included with this charge is an immediate roadside licence suspension of 7 days and roadside vehicle seizure, leaving the accused and all occupants of the car on the side of the road to find another form of transportation. It is no secret that speed racers and stunt drivers are a danger to all drivers and harsh penalties should be enforced to stop the unnecessary deaths caused by these situations. Unfortunately these racers are most often not the ones being stopped for the new section 172 Stunt Driving law. The majority of the people we see charged with these offences are everyday people that made an inadvertent error. We aren’t saying that makes it right, however we also believe that this law could be supplying too much power to the charging officers. In Ontario, you are innocent until proven guilty, so why does this law grant the officer the ability to asses your guilt on the spot and suspend your licence and impound your car for 7 days? What if you are found innocent of the charge because of an officer’s mistake like the three wrongly accused by Mahoney-Bruer? You would still be responsible for all of the towing and impounding fees for your car, not to mention any monetary loss you may have incurred not being able to drive to work or school, etc. We have seen these losses climb into the thousands of dollar range for some of our clients. That is a pretty big loss for someone who may have not done anything wrong! This doesn’t even cover the possibility that the car does not even belong to the offending person. John Doe may have been Racing at 50 over the limit while driving his friends car that he took without permission. Now we have a situation where his friend, who had absolutely nothing to do with the incident, is being punished for Joe’s behavior. Higher fines are one matter, but having an officer being able to be the judge, jury and executioner to decide someone’s guilt at the roadside is too much power, in our opinion and the situation going on right now with Mahoney-Bruer is a perfect example of this.
The Toronto Star has also reported that “OPP spokesperson Insp. Dave Ross said police are working with the Crown to withdraw charges laid against the three drivers by Mahoney-Bruer. Ross said the force is also reviewing other charges where Mahoney-Bruer was involved as an investigator, but ‘we haven’t yet determined the scope of that review.’”

If you have an upcoming court date for a ticket laid by Sgt. Dennis Mahoney-Bruer or a past ticket that you were found guilty of, Traffic Ticket Solutions can help. Call us at 1.877.TTS.WINS for a free consultation and quote for your case.

Below are some links to news stories regarding Sgt. Dennis Mahoney-Bruer:

Jun 05, 2009 The Toronto Star
250 Cases Under Review in OPP Officer Probe

June 4, 2009 The Toronto Star
OPP Asks if Tow-truck Firms Paid Off Policeman

May 30, 2009 The Toronto Star
Officer Accused of Falsely Charging Drivers

May 29,2009 CBC News
OPP Officer Charged With Obstruction of Justice

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