By Jordan W. Charness
Did you ever get the feeling that no matter what you did, you were going to get a ticket? Did it seem that circumstances and the police were conspiring against you to make sure that no matter how safely you were driving, you would still end up with one? In other words, have you ever felt that you were entering a ticket trap?
That’s exactly how Roger felt. You see, there was a parking lot where he often parked his car. In front of the parking lot, was a lane that was reserved for buses during rush hour, and at that time of day, only buses and taxis were permitted to travel in that lane. The problem was that in order to safely leave the parking lot during a time when there was a lot of traffic was to turn into that bus lane. Trying to cut across the empty bus lane into a packed middle lane was virtually impossible.
This was not only readily apparent to Roger and everyone else who used that parking lot, but it was readily apparent to the police. The local police department decided that they would start an operation at the exit to the parking lot. They sent several cars of police officers who pulled over driver after driver and ticketed them for driving in a reserved bus lane. The point of the police operation was to make sure that the reserved bus lane would be respected so the buses and taxis could use lane in the way that it was intended.
In so doing, of course, they issued many tickets, one of which went to Roger.
Roger didn’t feel that this was fair, and contested the ticket. He went to court and explained to the judge that the really was no other way to exit the parking lot. In fact, the design of the parking lot and the street made it almost mandatory to drive in the reserved bus and parking lane for at least a little while. Roger further argued that the police operation in that area amounted to nothing other than a trap and a way for the police to issue tickets.
After a reasonably lengthy trial for this type of thing, the judge rendered a judgement declaring that this was indeed a form of entrapment in that it really was impossible for anybody exiting the parking lot to do anything but drive in the reserved bus lane. The judge acquitted Roger of the charge and ruled that even though Roger had technically been driving in a reserved bus lane, he really did not have a choice. The judge went further and described the whole situation as some sort of trap where the average citizen would get ticketed for doing something that he really could not avoid.
Roger was absolutely thrilled with his acquittal. He had won his case without the use of a lawyer and just by pitting his believable argument against the professionals of the city. He felt that he had taken on a police department, the city, and had struck a blow for justice for every Canadian driver who felt that they had ever been unfairly ticketed in some sort of speed trap or any other kind of ticket trap.
Roger bragged so loud and so hard that he even called the media to tell them that he had obtained a judgement declaring the fact that ticket traps existed and that they were illegal. At least, that was Roger’s interpretation.
Roger did indeed get the media’s attention and attraction. The story was widely reported in his city. But it didn’t have the consequences Roger intended: the city was not content to have a judgement rendered declaring that there were ticket traps and they were illegal. The city appealed. Roger’s headaches were just about to begin.
Next week, I will talk about appealing a Municipal Court judgement and what hoops you’ll have to jump through to do so.