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Photo radar: a speeding ticket canceled because it was reported too late

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Guy Savoie's vehicle was captured at a speed of 68 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. (Archive photo)

  • Louis Gagné (View profile)Louis Gagné

A motorist from Quebec, whose vehicle was caught speeding by a photo radar, saw his ticket canceled after the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) failed to demonstrate that he had sent him the report and photographs attesting to the offense within the allotted time frame.

In a decision rendered on January 3, the Court of Quebec ordered a stay of proceedings against Guy Savoie, finding that he had been deprived of elements allowing him to fully defend himself.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">On October 31, 2022, Mr. Savoie's vehicle was captured at a speed of 68 km/h in a zone where the authorized speed is limited to 50 km/h .

In mid-November, he left Canada to travel the United States for several months. Before his departure, the man had his mail forwarded to his sister's home.

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He also takes care to notify the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) so that it can communicate with him by email if necessary.

On March 11, 2023, more than four months after the alleged offense, the DPCP notified Guy Savoie of its report of the offense by means of a public posting on the website of the Ministry of Justice . This process is used when a report has been produced, but could not be served on the defendant by post or by bailiff.

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Motorists who receive a ticket for speeding by mail must submit a guilty or not guilty plea within 30 days. (Archive photo)

The Ministry's Offenses and Fines Office also sends the defendant, by registered mail to their usual address, a letter informing them of the procedure. Thanks to the rerouting of Mr. Savoie's mail, the missive reached his sister's home, who immediately informed him of the situation by email.

Guy Savoie asserts that it was only at this moment that he learned of the commission of the alleged offense. Note that the statement of offense was attached to the letter without the radar photographs indicating the location, date and time where the speed was recorded.

Still outside the country, Mr. Savoie pleads not guilty electronically. On this occasion, he asks for proof related to the offense with which he is accused. Upon receipt of the documents, the defendant once again noted the absence of the photographs.

At the end of August 2023, Guy Savoie communicated successively with two prosecutors from the DPCP in Quebec. He then expresses his wish to obtain all the proof, including the elements attesting that he was sent the report and the photographs within 30 days following the date of the alleged offense, as required by the Code of road safety.

A DPCP lawyer confirms to Mr. Savoie that the documents were indeed sent to him by mail. On this occasion, the Quebec resident became aware of a copy of an envelope which would have been sent to his usual address and which would have been returned to its sender, the SAAQ, with the notation moved, unknown.

The only information observable on the envelope is the inscription of the number 23. It is impossible to know if it is a date.

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In Quebec, three types of photo radar are used: fixed photo radar (photo), mobile photo radar and red light monitoring device. (Archive photo)

The DPCP never provided the material proof that the finding initially had was served at Guy Savoie's residence within 30 days following the date of the offense, despite the latter's repeated requests.

The prosecution did not see fit to prove the transmission within the time limit, which would have made it possible to put an end to Mr. Savoie's allegations, notes Judge François Kouri in his decision, of the Court of Quebec.

In the eyes of the court, the notice of offense was only served on the defendant at the time of public posting, on March 11, 2023, approximately 130 days after the alleged commission of the offense.

Citing the Court of Appeal, Judge Kouri emphasizes that the transmission of the report with the photographs within 30 days following the offense is a measure of fairness towards someone who has committed no fault.

This is the case when the owner of a vehicle is not the driver at the time excessive speed is observed. In such a situation, the Highway Safety Code allows the defendant, that is to say the owner of the vehicle, to denounce the driver within 15 days following notification of the infraction.

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The photos taken by the radars are sent to the Evidence Processing Center in Montreal, where they are analyzed by agents of the Sûreté du Québec who check whether there is indeed indeed had an infraction. (Archive photo)

According to the court, not complying with this requirement deprives the owner of a contemporary factual element that is essential or certainly relevant to the development of his defense.

Indeed, we can easily understand that the more quickly we warn the owner of the vehicle of the commission of the offense, that is to say within the prescribed period, the more this can allow him to check and promptly remember the context and identity of the driver and, if necessary, to denounce him in order to avoid a possible personal conviction, we can read in the decision rendered on January 3 by the Court of Quebec.

N'having been informed that four and a half months after the alleged commission of the offense, Guy Savoie was deprived of his right to full defense. The only just and appropriate remedy, the court concludes, consists of pronouncing a stay of proceedings against Guy Savoie.

  • Louis Gagné (View profile)< img alt="" class="PictureImage-sc-f0aa5057-2 kmYcCL transition-opacity ease-out" style="opacity:1" loading="lazy" src="https://images.radio-canada.ca/q_auto,w_160/v1/personnalites-rc/1x1/louis-gagne-journaliste.png">Louis GagnéFollow
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116