Oops! Common mistakes in traffic court can be costly

Common mistakes in traffic court

We attend a lot of traffic violation hearings, and we notice people making the same common mistakes in traffic court over and over. These defendants, usually self-represented, run over themselves making weak arguments, giving contradictory testimony, and otherwise spinning their wheels.

This blog will go over some of the most egregious errors people make and what to do to avoid them.

Worst common mistakes in traffic court: Correcting defects in police case

One of the worst sins defendants in traffic court commit is filling holes in the prosecution’s case. Too often they will do the Crown’s job for them by divulging information that is not in their best interest to divulge.

It usually happens completely by accident. Defendants will inadvertently reveal something they are under no obligation discuss. Testifying at trial, people often fill gaps missing from the evidence against them, thereby correcting any defects in the police’s case and digging their own grave.

For instance, in this case, a Mr. Steer, who was prohibited from possessing fishing gear, was found hiding below deck on a boat. To operate or be the sole occupant of a vessel would have been a violation of the terms of his court order.

Mr. Steer pled not guilty, however, at trial he said the reason he was hiding was because he knew he was violating the court order simply by being on the boat.

The judicial justice found the defendant’s own testimony proved the Crown’s case, noting: “…by his own testimony he had a plausible explanation to explain hiding below the deck just before being boarded. The fact he did not rely on that explanation is consistent with him being neither a truthful nor reliable witness.”

Explaining why they wouldn’t have done something

People often testify about why they wouldn’t have done something and it usually doesn’t help their case very much.

For instance, we often hear people fighting a use of electronic device while driving ticket say something like this: “Why would I look at my phone when I have Bluetooth?” While it might seem like a good excuse to give an angry spouse or family member, it simply doesn’t hold up in Court.

For one, it’s not probative. In other words, this question does not provide proof or evidence that you didn’t do something. Therefore, to a Court it’s totally irrelevant. It speaks to an intention for doing something, not what actually happened.

Secondly, a good prosecutor will be able to come up with at least 10 reasons why you looked at your phone. A text message came through while you’re on a call. You got a notification. You took a wrong turn.  

Testifying about your practise

Another of the many common mistakes in traffic court people make is testifying about their practise. Some defendants seem to think one way to prove their innocence is to testify about what they habitually do. For instance, they might say they typically drive 10 km/hr below the speed limit on a particular road because it’s near a school or something.

This doesn’t speak to what a person did during the event in question. It tells a court nothing about what actually happened. A defendant will never be able to prove their innocence by talking about what they usually do. Even the most conscientious and careful of drivers slip up and commit traffic violations from time to time.

Ironically, police talk about their practise all the time. They will say they usually check their RADAR device before a shift, for instance. Sadly, they seem to be able to get away with it unless they are challenged on cross-examination.

A lot of these mistakes can be easily avoided by hiring an experienced professional. The team at BC Driving Lawyers knows every slip-up in the book and how to avoid them. Call us for a free consultation today.

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