What’s your verdict?

prisonerInstead of skiing today, and being out in the fresh mountain air, enjoying a wonderful trail with excellent tracks, I spent the day in a hot, packed courtroom sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with lawbreakers and an assortment of other miscreants.

Awaiting my turn at justice, I had to sit through hours. and. hours. and. hours. of watching people being fined $600-$800 and having their licence suspended for 30 days for speeding in Banff National Park. Most were doing at least 50 KmH over the speed limit.

My turn finally came and the decision will surprise you. It sure surprised me!

Let’s go back to the beginning and see if you think I had a valid case.

It was the August long weekend at 3:35 pm in the afternoon when I was returning home from a lovely day of biking on Goat Creek. Coming to the end of the Spray Lakes road, where it meets Three Sisters Parkway, I had to merge with a long line of traffic heading east. For anyone from Calgary who skis at the nordic centre, you do this when you’re heading home, too.

What happened next is an event which everyone of you will have experienced and can identify with. Trying to merge when the vehicle beside you will not give you any space.

The merge lane is 80 metres long, I’m quickly running out of real estate, and as I saw it, I had four choices and had to make a decision in a nano-second.

  1. Force my way over and risk side-swiping a big Jeep
  2. Drive in the bike lane where there are bikers(remember, it’s a busy long weekend)
  3. Stop suddenly. Not really a good idea when there’s traffic on your bumper.
  4. Boot it and get ahead of the jerk in the Jeep.

It was a no-brainer. I hit the gas, pulled in front of the Jeep, and all was fine except, oh-oh, cops with a radar gun.

I was clocked at 71 kmH in a 50 KmH zone. I tried to explain the situation to the RCMP officer, but he wasn’t in any mood to listen to my pleadings(His shift was probably ending at this point in the late afternoon). On the contrary, he got very impatient and belligerent when I said I was going to fight the ticket. In that case, he said, he would make sure I get the full extent of the fine possible which was $175.00

I can only surmise that the constable was insinuating that if I meekly and subserviently accepted this ticket and mailed it in, he would have given me a less stiff penalty.

At this point I should say I am a staunch supporter of the police and the difficult job they do. I recognize that anyone can be having a bad day. I also recognize some cops(very few) are on power trips.

Almost three months later I finally have my first go-around with the crown. They offer me a plea deal. Reduced fine, 2 demerit points. I waited in line for three hours in the crowded lobby of the Canmore court house to hear this.

No deal. I want to plead my case in front of a judge and take my chances which I think are pretty good. I believe my quick actions prevented an accident. I plead not guilty and a trial date is set for Dec 15.

What would you have done? 

What do you think the outcome was? 

How do you feel about The Letter of the Law vs The Spirit of the Law? Does it apply in this case?

Standing by your principles can be frustrating, time-consuming, expensive, and you could catch a cold from all the sick people around you.

Now, I’m just waiting for one of my smart-alec friends to suggest that they lock him up and throw away the key 🙂

If anyone can guess the outcome, I will bestow upon you the King Solomon award.

5:57 pm: I’m changing into my ski clothes now and heading over to the nordic centre to work off some of this energy. I will be back to read your comments(and verdicts) later.


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  1. You are skiers here, but a community of skiers. I don’t find Bob’s post about this incident any different than a group of us skiers in a car on the way to a destination talking over the comings and goings in our lives over the past week.

    Regarding this incident, I’m not sure anyone has mentioned it, but it is partly the Jeep’s responsibility to check the merge lane and to try to let people in.. In hind site, the design of this merge lane coming down a mountain and having a pedestrian crossing at the end sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

  2. Merging into traffic going 110 when you are going the legal 50 is dangerous. You could probably get a ticket for trying that. So we all know to boot it and merge at in traffic speed for the sake of survival. The lazy cop knew he could fill his ticket book easily at that spot. A classic speed trap. Random taxation and definitely not in the interest of public safety.
    I don’t understand why so much police time is consumed by pulling people over for minor offenses like yours in the LL to Canmore stretch of highway. I often count four or more, even on days with light traffic. Wouldn’t one photo radar vehicle pull in just as much cash as four patrol cars? Maybe one additional patrol car to chase down the worst offenders. That would free up two officers for useful and more rewarding work.
    Sorry to hear about your stress, Bob. Sometimes life is like a game of musical chairs and this time you had nothing to sit on when the music stopped. Even though I don’t speed I will have to start using my radar detector again thanks to s**t like this.

  3. I don’t know what the verdict was, but in my experience, it’s always better to be humble with cops who pull you over. One time, I totally deserved a ticket, but I was very contrite, and all he gave me was a fatherly lecture and a warning!

    Yes, it definitely triggers some of them when you try to give a reasonable explanation. -Bob

  4. The ticket says your vehicle was going westbound but in your commentary you said you were going east, but maybe I don’t understand exactly where incident occurred.

    You’re correct. It just goes to show that cops can make stupid mistakes. -Bob

  5. For your consideration

  6. First World Problem Bob.

    Heh! So true. -Bob

  7. My guess is the cop did not show, and you got off:-)

    The two of them sat through the entire court proceedings waiting for my case. What great use of taxpayer money. -Bob

  8. My guess, ‘stayed’ the proceedings.

    Go check Part 2 of the story. -Bob

  9. Jail time, but one last ski/supper first. (-:
    My guess. Either the full original fine or zero. Hopefully the latter. Had a similar issue recently along that same stretch. Found out I had missed putting my new insurance slip in the car by about a week, despite clearly being insured. Ticket was for failure to supply, yet I had an email of it and a bank statement showing the automatic payments. No interest in seeing it. $200 + for a paperwork/administrative issue. I really wanted to go to court and prove that I was insured. I ended up going twice down to courts and try and get it dealt with and ended up deciding my time was more valuable.

    The system seems designed to wear you down to the point where you give up. -Bob

  10. Skier Bob or Speedy Bob!
    You got it reduced to $100.00

  11. That intersection is a merge if you get into it before the other guy you have the right of way. We live in Homesteads and have that grief every time we come down form the CNC or Smith Dorian. Most folks have no idea the diff between yield and merge. If you had to accelerate to avoid someone you have a case. The other way to look at this is to NOT drive in town on a Long W/E .
    Verdict was minimal fine and no demerits even though YOU WERE RIGHT!

    Thanks for pointing out that it is indeed a merge lane with the “make a space” rules. As for not driving in town on long weekends, I’ve adopted that practice for the Banff townsite in the summer. -Bob

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