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LETTER: Photo radar guidelines don't hold up in court

letter-sta

The misapplication of photo radar is not only still prevalent, but laughable from a legal standpoint.

Last September, I received a nice little present in the mail indicating that I was photographed driving 69 km/h in a 50 zone. For a mere $163 dollars, I could clear my good name.

After closer examination of the ticket, I deduced that I was very close to the speed change sign. I decided to do some homework regarding whether or not I was in a “speed transition” zone, which we’ve been told is a zone whereby photo radar is NOT to be applied. I received a court date, and all the appropriate documents for the infraction, so I could prepare my defence. So far so good!

The date was set for Feb 11. The crown laid out the case regarding the competence of the operator, location, camera calibration information, and such. All of which were not in question on my part. My argument was based on the Automated Traffic Enforcement Technology Guideline (written by Justice and Solicitor General, Government of Alberta, February 2019, Automated Traffic Enforcement Technology Guideline, Justice and Solicitor General Law Oversight Branch). I was arguing that I was smack dab in the middle of the transition zone, and should not have received a violation. This is where the farce began.

According to the guidelines, when a speed change of 30 or more km/h occurs, an area of 100 metres on either side of the speed change sign is designated as the transition zone. The guidelines also clearly state in bold “Violation tickets shall not be issued to vehicles travelling in transition zones”. In my case I was going from an 80 zone to a 50.

I was called to present my defence. The camera operator was sworn in, and I began cross examination. I first asked if he was familiar with the guidelines, and obligated to comply with them. He responded yes to both of those questions. CHECK. Then, after some rudimentary math was applied, we agreed that I was exactly 62 metres inside the new speed zone. CHECK. I asked the crown why, if the guidelines state that anything inside 100 metres is the transition zone, why would I receive a ticket? The crown then accepted my defence that I was definitely in the transition zone, and I submitted the guidelines as Exhibit 2. CHECK. This is where logic left the room.

The crown then stated that it doesn’t matter what the guidelines say. The guidelines have zero bearing on how and where speeding violations are assessed. The guidelines have no basis in law, and for all intents and purposes, are not admissible. Needless to say, I was gobsmacked when the judge agreed, and found me guilty of the offence. What is the purpose of writing the guidelines if law enforcement has no obligation to follow them!

So, if you smell smoke, and feel a little breeze near your rear end, just know that a politician has just told Albertans that photo radar is strictly monitored, and appropriately deployed to keep Albertans safe.

As for me, I’m going to put the guidelines in a spot where they will be of more use. On the roll beside my toilet!

Rick Owen, St. Albert