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Steering clients correctly: Guide for dealing with spike in roadside legal problems

Friday, July 03, 2020 @ 11:57 AM | By Peter Carter


Peter Carter %>
Peter Carter
In Toronto alone, between March 23 and the first week of May, police reported a 594 per cent increase in stunt driving offences, the most infamous being the individual doing doughnuts in a black Ford Mustang in the middle of what is empirically Canada’s busiest intersection; Yonge and Dundas. During the Easter weekend, Vancouver police released footage of a vehicle being towed after clocking 93 kilometres per hour in a 30 zone.

The reports coming in from across Canada and the U.S. are the same: sharp spikes in speeding, dangerous driving and generally unsafe highway activity. And as the economy opens and more people return to the highways, there’s little reason to expect a decline. 

With that in mind, the editors at The Lawyer’s Daily assigned our longtime contributor and highway traffic and impaired-driving expert Nathan Baker to assemble this eight-part roadside legal roundup, designed specifically for lawyers who, when they pick up the phone, hear a client telling them “I’m stuck on Highway 11 and my van has been impounded. Can you help?”

In the driver’s seat: Where most people meet police
While it is uncommon for most people to have any interaction with police or the court system, by far the most common interaction people have is in provincial offences court which many people call traffic court.

That’s the ticket: Traffic court tips
Something has happened. Being polite was not enough for police to just give your client a warning and a ticket has been issued. The first thing will be to determine what kind of ticket it is.

Where the fire is: Fighting speeding tickets
The dreaded speeding ticket. A look into the rearview mirror, or seeing the police set up in a “speed trap” ahead, and panic often sets in. Even when not speeding, many people will brake when they see police because they think they were.

Catch the drift: How to deal with stunt driving
In Ontario, stunt driving is most often related to people driving 50 km/h or more over the speed limit. While this is one manner of stunt driving, there are many more.

Careless charges call for careful defence
Careless driving is the regulatory offence which fits between civil and criminal liability. It overlaps with both areas and gives rise to significant confusion.

Defence of driving: Many parts to car law
The kind and number of offences relating to driving and “traffic court” are enormous. Since driving varies between urban and rural spaces, based on weather, traffic and innumerable other factors the rules vary largely based on the situation as well.

Licence demerit system: Case in points
While people often speak of “losing points” it is actually an accumulation of points that occurs. Points accrue based largely on the perceived seriousness of the offence. 

Unanswered questions about future highway traffic law
The law surrounding driving will continue to change as it always has. As technology and the use of vehicles has changed, so too has the law regulating it. Early cars lacked safety features but also lacked the ability to travel at the speeds we do now. Increased safety features have reduced injury and deaths relating to motor vehicle accidents significantly. However, there is also increasing use of technology in cars such as cell phones which can lead to distraction and greater risk-taking behaviour.

Peter Carter is an Analysis Editor at The Lawyer's Daily. Contact him at peter.carter@lexisnexis.ca or call 647-776-6740.