Making a Driving Complaint to Police

 

Q&A ImageHave you ever felt upset enough about something that happened around you in traffic that you wanted to report it to the police? I’m sure that we’ve all felt that way at one time or another but haven’t followed through because we didn’t know if it was worthwhile or if anything would happen to the offending driver if we did. Here is what you need to know in order to make an effective driving complaint to police in BC.

Probably the single most important piece of information to gather is the license plate number of the offending vehicle. Write it down and keep the paper that you wrote it on to refer to later in court. At the very least, this is all that the police need to start an investigation with. Details of the who, what, where, when and why come next. The more you can recall and provide to the investigator the more likely that the investigation will result in charges against the offending driver. Like the license plate number, write these down at the first possible opportunity so that they will not be forgotten.

If the driving behaviour is serious and could result in immediate harm to others call 911 and make the report immediately. If this is not the case, a call to the police non-emergency number for the area the incident occurred in as soon as reasonably possible is sufficient. After you have provided the particulars of your case, ask for and record the file number of your complaint. All complaints are given a file number and this is what you will need if you follow up on your complaint at a later date.

There are three levels of involvement in a driving complaint. From least effective to most effective, they are:

  1. You report the incident as an anonymous complainant
  2. You report the incident, identify yourself, but decline to become involved any further.
  3. You report the incident, identify yourself and commit to attending court if necessary.

If you report as an anonymous complainant, all that the police can do is patrol the area of your complaint and react to something that they see the suspect vehicle do, if anything. This type of complaint is usually assigned a low priority.

If you identify yourself but decline a court appearance, the police can patrol for and try to intercept the vehicle as they would for an anonymous complaint. If it is found the driver can be advised of the complaint and cautioned about their driving. If the registered owner is not driving or the vehicle is not located, police may choose to send a cautionary letter to them advising how their vehicle was being used and leaving it up to them to deal with the driver.

If you identify yourself and commit to a court appearance if necessary, patrols will be made and an investigation started. You will be asked for a written statement of the details of the incident. This importance of this is twofold, the police have full details of the incident recorded and you have an accepted method of refreshing your memory for court purposes.

When I started an investigation like this, I would identify the registered owner of the offending vehicle and visit them personally. I would advise them that their vehicle had been involved in a breach of the Motor Vehicle Act and require them to identify the driver to me. Failing to do this is an offence, even if it is the registered owner who was driving at the time. I now had a driver I could deal with directly or I could charge the registered owner for the original offence and failing to identify the driver.

My next step was to speak with the driver. I would outline the complaint to them, advise them that they did not have to say anything in response, but if they chose to explain I would listen and possibly choose to use the explanation in court if it came to that point. At this point in the investigation, I now had to decide on the success of a prosecution if I charged the offending driver. If there was a substantial possibility of conviction I would charge (usually by way of a violation ticket). If not, I would caution the driver if it was appropriate.

In either case, I would then call the complainant back and tell them what had occurred.

If the offending driver was charged it did not always result in a dispute and court appearance for the complainant. These incidents usually involved driving behaviour that was significantly out of the ordinary and many of the tickets were paid or ignored and subsequently deemed convicted when 30 days had passed from the date of issue.

When the ticket is disputed, you can at the very least expect a telephone call from the investigator telling you when and where the dispute will be held if you don’t receive a paper subpoena. Take your notes with you on the court day and be a few minutes early to deal with parking, finding the courtroom and speaking with the investigator who will most likely also be the prosecutor. When the case is called, you will be asked to recount the incident to the court, and then answer any questions from the prosecutor and then the accused or their lawyer.

That’s all there is to it. Even though the formal atmosphere of the court can be intimidating, if you relax it is not an unpleasant experience. Once you have testified, you may sit in the court and watch the rest of the proceedings, including the court’s decision on the guilt of the offending driver. If they are convicted, you will know the penalty. If not, you.

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible for conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

Police focus on impaired drivers for August Traffic Safety Spotlight

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​ICBC & police warn impaired drivers ahead of long weekend

​ICBC & police warn impaired drivers ahead of long weekend

This B.C. Day long weekend, our roads will be busy with some British Columbians choosing to travel throughout the province for a getaway and others visiting local parks and restaurants. No matter what your plans are, if you plan to drink, don’t drive.

Police will be setting up CounterAttack roadchecks across the province to get impaired drivers off our roads. If you’re caught driving impaired, you could end up paying in a number of lasting ways – from increased insurance premiums to fines, car impoundment or even jail time.

On average, four people are killed and 620 people injured in 2,200 crashes across the province over the B.C. long weekend.*

5 ways to stay safe on your road trip:

  1. If you’re away from home, you may not be familiar with all of the options available to get home safely after you’ve had a few drinks. Check your options such as taxis, ride sharing, transit or shuttle services before you head out and save the information into your cell phone so you can relax knowing you have a plan to get home safely.

  2. Most crashes on B.C. Day long weekend occur on Friday so plan to leave on Thursday or Saturday morning if possible to avoid traffic congestion and possible delays. You should also make sure you get a good night’s sleep to avoid getting fatigued behind the wheel. Plan your route on drivebc.ca and include rest breaks or switch drivers every two hours.

  3. Do a pre-trip check and check your engine oil, coolant levels and lights, and inspect your vehicle tires, including the spare, to make sure they’re in good condition and properly inflated. Make sure any camping or outdoor equipment is securely tied down to your vehicle before you take off.

  4. Summer means more motorcyclists on our roads so it’s vital to scan as you approach an intersection. Be ready to yield the right-of-way when turning left and keep in mind that it can be hard to tell how fast motorcyclists are travelling.

  5. Be patient with R.V. drivers if they’re travelling below the speed limit in mountainous areas as they’re likely going uphill as fast as they can. If you’re driving your RV this weekend, be courteous and pull over when it’s safe to do so to let others by. This is much safer than a driver making an unsafe pass out of frustration.

Regional statistics*:

  • Over the B.C. day long weekend, on average, 420 people are injured in 1,400 crashes in the Lower Mainland every year.

  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 94 people are injured in 380 crashes in the Southern Interior every year.

  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 26 people are injured in 130 crashes in North Central B.C. every year.

  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 75 people are injured in 330 crashes on Vancouver Island every year.

* Five-year annual average. Crash and injury data is ICBC data (2015 to 2019). Fatality data is police data (2014 to 2018). B.C. Day long weekend is calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to B.C. Day to midnight on B.C. Day.

#DriveSmartBC – Stay Between the Lines

 

Traffic IslandOne sure sign of growing up when we were young was the ability to use our crayons and colour between the lines. An important skill for a “grown-up” driver is also the ability to stay between the lines. Judging by the e-mails that I continually receive from readers who state that this is their main pet peeve, there is a sizable number of drivers out there who need to do a bit more skill improvement.

Staying centered in your lane is not difficult. Here’s a beginner’s tip from the Tuning Up Guide:

The first thing you may notice as you begin driving in moderate traffic is that you have to stay in the centre of your lane. To start with, this is no easy task. The magic rule: look the way you want to go. If you keep looking 12 seconds ahead down the centre of the lane, your peripheral vision will help you centre yourself.

If you haven’t been on the inside of a curve lately and met an oncoming driver part way over the center line into your lane, a quick look at the lines painted on the road will tell you that many tires have passed over the paint and worn it away.

It shouldn’t matter if you cross over the lines when no one is coming should it? Well, it’s both illegal in that situation and will end up in a collision the first time you fail to see the oncoming vehicle. It will be really interesting if that driver is doing the same thing!

Perhaps more common still is the encroachment onto the shoulder when drivers go around a corner. This territory is the domain of pedestrians and cyclists, your vehicle does not belong there. It’s hardly likely that you would be injured or killed in a collision here but the same cannot be said for the unprotected shoulder users.

Should vehicles have to become smarter than their drivers? Your next new vehicle may have lane keeping assist to help you stay where you are supposed to be.

One side effect of this safety feature will be enforcement of signalling lane changes. If you fail to signal your lane change, the system will see this as a drift to one side and will take action to alert you.

Here in Canada, winter snow hides the lines on the road. Unless it is unsafe to do, your guide is the tire tracks left by the vehicles that have already been driven there.

So, show a little pride in your ability to be a mature, skillful driver. Keep your vehicle inside that 3.6 meter wide space between the lines. This will also show your respect for other road users and help to keep them safe. If you cannot, it’s time to put your crayons back in the box and let someone else do the driving.

References:

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible for conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

COVID-19 isolation could mean more vehicles, more accidents but how?

COVID-19 isolation could mean more vehicles, more accidents but how?

The motor vehicle accident season has arrived
www.kitchenertoday.com

You wouldn’t think the COVID-19 pandemic would have much of an impact on motor vehicle accidents given the stay-an-home measures being suggested across the province. However, the combination of warmer weather and loosening restrictions may have the opposite affect according to a motor vehicle accident personal injury lawyer.

“There are currently less people on the road,” suggests personal injury and disability lawyer Robert Deutschmann. “But as things open up, I think the general thought is that fewer people might want to take transit because of physical distancing. That might mean more people cycling or driving motor vehicles which means more traffic.”

Warm weather and a desire to isolate while on the road is also a catalyst for motorcycle riders to roll out their machines. Predictably, accidents involving motorcycles are already on the rise, with five motorcyclists killed in Ontario over the Victoria Day weekend. Surprisingly, the founder of Deutschmann Law says that motorcycle riders are not usually the ones to blame.

“People have the perception of motorcycle riders to be reckless, but most of them aren’t,” said Deutschmann, who’s firm has been providing personal injury law services in the area for over 25 years. “Most are middle age or upper age people who just want to enjoy the road. The problem is, much like bike riders, motorcycle riders or pedestrians, people driving cars are sometimes inattentive. Stats show almost two-thirds of accidents involving motorcycles are caused by drivers not seeing the motorcycle.”

Overall, there were more than 53,000 collisions on OPP-patrolled roads in Ontario in 2019, with Fridays remaining the deadliest day on Ontario roads as people rush home or to get away for the weekend. As a result, the number of injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents continue to climb annually, and that’s often a problem for victims who assume bringing a claim for injury is a simple process.

“Anytime you’ve been in an accident, the general advice is to call a personal injury lawyer to find out what the rules are with respect to bringing claims for any injury as a result,” suggests Deutschmann. “The truth is, however, that it’s difficult to bring a claim for injuries from a motor vehicle accident in Ontario.”

Deutschmann says Ontario law concerning accidents states a claim for pain and suffering and future care needs can only be made if a victim suffers “permanent and serious impairment of a physical or psychological nature.”  However, that definition requires some explanation.

“The key is permanent and serious,” explains Deutschmann. “What does serious mean? Generally, serious means substantially affecting your ability to work or substantially affecting your activities of daily living. Then you can bring a claim for pain and suffering and future care needs.”

Bringing a claim for income loss is not subject to a threshold, but is still difficult. However, Deutschmann suggests that no matter how minor your accident-related injury may be, it’s important to seek some legal counsel.

“If you’ve been in an accident that’s not your fault and you’re having difficulties, maybe not able to work to the same level you could before, it’s a good idea to check with a personal injury lawyer just to review what your rights are with respect to that accident,” he said.

The personal injury lawyers at Deutschmann Law operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no cost for a consultation or for legal services unless there is a settlement in your favour.

For more information, contact Deutschmann Law at 1-866-414-4874, serving Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, Elmira, Guelph, Woodstock and surrounding areas.

This Content is made possible by our Sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

Source: www.kitchenertoday.com

DriveSmartBC: Ten Questions and Ten Answers

 

e-mail iconIt’s time to deal with all the questions in the DriveSmartBC inbox that have not prompted an article of their own. Here are 10 of them, one of which initially stumped me too. I guess that goes to show that no matter how long you have been a licensed driver, there is still something that you can learn!

Michelle would like to remind drivers that there is a good reason that they must not park in front of crosswalks. She says that it should be obvious that children are short and can easily be hidden behind a parked vehicle where approaching drivers cannot see them. If we educate drivers about the 6 meter distance, they will understand and stop parking too close.

Dax wants road users to make way for ambulances that display flashing red and white lights but are not using their sirens. While the law does not require it, this is another case where the minor inconvenience involved will benefit the people in need of  medical assistance. Why not yield?

Jeff wonders about a vehicle with Texas licence plates that is regularly parked on his residential street for the past 2 years. Should he report it to the police? The police do enforce the Customs Act and may be interested but I think that I would start with the Canadian Border Services Agency instead. Their Border Watch Line is interested in any suspicious cross border activities.

Clive wants to know if he can pull the sidecar of his motorcycle rather than attaching it to run along side. A sidecar is specifically exempt from being called a trailer and requiring a separate licence plate and insurance. If you pull it behind it is no longer a sidecar and would be considered to be a trailer.

Paul’s wife is undergoing chemotherapy and he wants to keep his outside contacts to a minimum to protect her. His B.C. driver’s licence is expiring and he wonders if he can just use his Mexican driver’s licence instead of going to the driver service center to renew. If Paul is ordinarily resident in B.C. he must have a B.C. driver’s licence. When he applies for it, he is required to surrender any driver’s licence that he holds from another jurisdiction.

Dave was messing around with the guages on his ‘Vette and failed to note that he had changed his speedometer to read in mph instead of km/h. You guessed it, he was ticketed for driving at 159 km/h and the ‘Vette was impounded. He wanted to know if he explained the inadvertent change to the traffic court justice, could he have the excessive speed charge set aside? Sorry Dave…

Melody was riding in a group of 4 motorcycles. If they all stopped side by side at the stop line in one lane, could they all leave the stop sign at the same time when it was safe to go? In B.C. it is not legal to operate more than two motorcycles side by side in a lane unless they are passing, so there should never be 4 motorcycles side by side in the same lane at a stop sign.

Will raised a concern that taught me something. He showed a picture of a highway marked with a sign that said No Lane Change for the Next 2 Kilometers yet the roadway was marked with a single broken white line. The direction on the sign overrides the permission indicated by the broken line.

Lisa literally ran afoul of a low mounted bicycle carrier on the rear of a pickup truck while trying to enter the parking space behind it. She did not think she should be found at fault for the collision because the carrier was sticking back into the parking space that she wanted to use. The carrier was there to be seen. If your vehicle does not fit in the space, you will have to find another space.

Curt wants to know if a passenger can be charged for using a mobile device while in a moving vehicle. Our distracted driving rules only apply to the driver so the passenger need only worry if the mobile device somehow interfered with the driver. Even then I’ve investigated a collision where the passenger yanked the steering wheel causing the driver to lose control and the Crown refused to proceed with charges.

Do you have a question that you would like answered? Send me an e-mail and I’ll add it to the queue.

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