Automotive

Locked: Got a ticket for high beams - Help!

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  • Feb 7th, 2018 3:40 pm
[OP]
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Feb 11, 2009
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Got a ticket for high beams - Help!

I think I must have won some kind of lottery ticket to get a ticket for flashing with high beams "once".

Was driving in the left lane of a road with an 80km/hr posted limit, and the driver in front of me was doing 50km/hr (the speed I had to brake to in order to match), so I flashed the high beams at the driver in front, a quick flicker to get his attention, and the driver immediately sped up to the speed limit, which was ok.

Now I didn't realize doing this was illegal, and apparently there was a cop car in the lane next to me which I didn't see, and he pulled me over.

He asked me what was I thinking when I did this. I stated the "Driver was impeding traffic going 50 in an 80 zone in the left lane, and did so to get his attention", he responded with "Its not your job".

Told me what I did was a "Criminal Offence" and he can arrest me for this, but he's letting me off with what he considers is just a warning ticket for "Fail to use lower beam - following" under HTA 168 (B).

FINE AT $110 and WILL impact my insurance.

I also noticed he used the wrong intersection of where this occurred by about 2km. He put the intersection for the spot he pulled me over, which was roughly 2km from the spot this occurred. Is this alone enough to toss this ticket out?
Last edited by deal_with_singh on Feb 5th, 2018 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Real Estate Agent, MAcc, CPA, CA
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Dec 28, 2007
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Who cares, it’s just a warning.
[OP]
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jackrabbit000 wrote: Who cares, it’s just a warning.
Just made that part more clear. The officer called it a warning ticket in comparison to the "Criminal Offence" but it carries a $110 fine and will effect the insurance
Real Estate Agent, MAcc, CPA, CA
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It’s not a criminal offence. It’s a traffic offence under HTA 168 and will also come with demerits. You can try and fight it but by taking a day off work, it’s even going to cost you more.
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Oct 5, 2012
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I don't fully know or claim to fully know how the demerit system works, but according to this pinned thread, and the link therein, your insurance doesn't hike. You just get points on your record for being caught for whatever the reason. Sucks though.


Pinned thread
Understanding Demerit Points (Ontario)
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Nov 26, 2014
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I feel what you did was reasonable. You should be able to have a good fight in court.
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Officer: "You know why I stopped you?"
Me: "I believe I do"
Officer: "You were _____"
Me: "Ohhh myyyy (head bowed in quiet humble shame)"
Officer: "You did this and that....."
Me: "(In shame) Ohhhh myyy - I really don't think that I did that"
Officer: "What is your driving record like?"
Me: "This is embarrassing, but excellent"
Officer: "Ran your driving record (it's excellent) - I'm issuing a warning - take it more careful"

Have played the past half dozen stops this way always got away with a warning. I once was pulled over and I presumed it was for speeding but dealt with it in this manner. Warning issued. On conclusion, I asked the officer how fast he clocked me at and he said " don't know - the radar was off"! He was attempting to get me self incriminate, but "Ohhhh myyyy" really doesn't admit anything but it does offer remorse to some degree.

I honestly have experienced true concern from officers hoping to encourage me to drive with greater care. I can only imagine the terrible situations that they must encounter and perhaps they feel that a person who is willing to listen and accept and follow their advice, may be worth forgiving an infraction.
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May 11, 2009
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I suspect the criminal offense he was referring to may be obstruction of justice, allegedly that can be issued where people flash their high beams to warn oncoming drivers of a speed trap/cops ahead. That's very extreme though, never heard of anyone being charged in Canada and there would be trouble with that in court - IANAL but for obstruction to occur a crime has to be committed first, hence nobody is being rounded up for announcing speed traps/RIDE checks online and on apps.

Next time just pass, the officer was correct - don't try to correct other people's driving habits, it's not your job and no matter how hard you try you won't make a difference. Also, never admit fault/incriminate yourself or talk more than absolutely necessary; you admitted you flashed intentionally, should have said you sneezed or your hand slipped and hit the light switch accidentally.

I'd say fight the ticket, the spirit of the HTA section cited is more about driving with the high beams, not flashing them. 168(b) allows you to use high beams when in the act of overtaking or passing, say you were about to pass the slow moving vehicle but changed your mind - " following another vehicle within 60 metres, except when in the act of overtaking and passing. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 168.
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cloudsuck wrote: Officer: "You know why I stopped you?"
Me: "I believe I do"
Officer: "You were _____"
Me: "Ohhh myyyy (head bowed in quiet humble shame)"
Officer: "You did this and that....."
Me: "(In shame) Ohhhh myyy - I really don't think that I did that"
Officer: "What is your driving record like?"
Me: "This is embarrassing, but excellent"
Officer: "Ran your driving record (it's excellent) - I'm issuing a warning - take it more careful"

Have played the past half dozen stops this way always got away with a warning. I once was pulled over and I presumed it was for speeding but dealt with it in this manner. Warning issued. On conclusion, I asked the officer how fast he clocked me at and he said " don't know - the radar was off"! He was attempting to get me self incriminate, but "Ohhhh myyyy" really doesn't admit anything but it does offer remorse to some degree.

I honestly have experienced true concern from officers hoping to encourage me to drive with greater care. I can only imagine the terrible situations that they must encounter and perhaps they feel that a person who is willing to listen and accept and follow their advice, may be worth forgiving an infraction.
I think your initial response (responding in the affirmative that you know why you were pulled over) is already admitting too much. You may have got off with a warning, but don't expect it will always end that way. The other way to look at it is the cop is looking for a way to get you to acknowledge that you knew what you did was wrong and that will then help his/her case when he writes you a ticket and you go to fight it in court. Personally, I would play even dumber than that, and assume a ticket is going to be issued. I don't want there to be an acknowledgement on record that I know what I did wrong, and meanwhile I then have to scramble for a story to get me out of the ticket, one which might be incongruent with what I told the officer at the scene.
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Aug 29, 2011
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I didn’t think they issued tickets for highbeam infractions. Shoot, cops around here would have a field day with all the morons driving around with their highbeams in.
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Dec 16, 2008
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So driving significantly below speed limit is legal but flashing high beam is not.Disappointed Face :facepalm:
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Nov 29, 2017
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Op you didn’t notice the police traveling beside you? Was it in your blind spot?
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Was this Peel police?
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The cop was probably about to book the guy doing below speed limit with the most probable cause being texting. That's why he's chilling beside you(and in the guy's blind spot). Cop probably thought you were tipping him off by flicking your high beams.
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https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-d ... e17352604/

Driving east, you flash your headlights to warn westbound motorists that police are toting radar guns in a speed trap.

You may believe you're doing the right thing by alerting fellow drivers to speed traps, as a matter of unwritten road etiquette. But suddenly, a police officer is flagging down your car, and you are issued a ticket for flashing high beams.

The Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS), for one, issued about a dozen such tickets in 2013 in contravention of Section 169 (2) of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act. Lawyers argue police are knowingly bending the law to protect revenue-generating speed traps. Police claim they're within rights.

"This is not a ticket that is very common – speeding, for example, would be the No. 1 ticket issued," says DRPS spokesman Dave Selby. "But we have consulted with the Crown Attorney's office on it and they support these tickets."

Jonathan Dawe, co-founder of a Toronto law firm and an adjunct professor of law at the University of Toronto, says police officers laying charges for headlight-flashing are "abusing the law and taking advantage of the fact that most drivers don't know the details of the HTA, or can't spend the time and effort it would take to fight the ticket in court."

Durham police have issued 21 summons for flashing headlights, resulting in eight convictions since 2011. Selby cited "safety" as the motivation for the tickets, as flashing high beams have a "distracting effect" on other drivers. "The decision to issue a ticket is at the discretion of the officer – she/he would have knowledge of the Highway Traffic Act and would enforce it according to their good judgment," Selby said.

In Ontario, "by its plain language, Section 169 (2) deals only with 'alternating' flashing high-beam headlights of the sort emergency vehicles use when responding to calls," Dawe says. "It is pretty clearly meant to prevent ordinary cars and trucks from being mistaken for emergency vehicles. The section doesn't say anything about when motorists can flash their regular high-beams – that is, ordinary headlights that don't alternate from side to side."

Brad Diamond, producer of the television show Motoring 2014, was charged for flashing his high-beams in 2007 while travelling across the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto. Diamond noticed a radar-toting police officer ticketing eastbound motorists and alerted oncoming traffic. On the other end of the viaduct, police officers were pulling over westbound motorists for warning other drivers. Diamond took his $110 ticket to court armed with "about 50 pages of research" but never got a chance to make his case. The ticket-issuing officer did not give evidence and the charge was dismissed.

"It wasn't a matter of whether or not I had done anything illegal," Diamond says. "The issue was this: there is no law prohibiting people from doing what I did. Period."

Says Dawe: "If the police don't want people flashing their high beams to warn of speed traps, they should be seeking to have the HTA amended so that there can be a proper public debate over whether or not a new law is needed. They shouldn't be taking matters into their own hands and re-purposing a law that was enacted to do something completely different."

For its part, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation notes that the issue ultimately comes down to a judgment call made by law enforcement. "In Ontario, police officers act independently when carrying out their duties … the [Highway Traffic Act] does not specifically address the flashing of lights to alert other drivers of police presence," says MTO spokesman Bob Nichols.

It seems ironic for police to object to motorists warning others to obey the law, given that their municipalities use signage to warn that certain roads are being patrolled by radar or that an intersection ahead is equipped with a red-light camera. As Diamond says, the "official reason" for speed enforcement is to get motorists to slow down.

______________________________________

ONTARIO HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT

Use of passing beam

168. When on a highway at any time when lighted lamps are required to be displayed on vehicles, the driver of a motor vehicle equipped with multiple beam headlamps shall use the lower or passing beam when,

(a) approaching an oncoming vehicle within 150 metres; or

(b) following another vehicle within 60 metres, except when in the act of overtaking and passing. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 168.

Alternating beams

Emergency vehicles

169. (1) Despite section 168, highbeam headlamps that produce alternating flashes of white light may be used by a public utility emergency vehicle while responding to an emergency and by an emergency vehicle as defined in subsection 144 (1). R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 169 (1).

Alternating highbeams on other vehicles prohibited

2) No person shall use highbeam headlamps that produce alternating flashes of white light on any vehicle other than a vehicle referred to in subsection (1). R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 169 (2).

______________________________________

RULINGS ELSEWHERE

Police are attempting to penalize motorists for headlight-flashing in many jurisdictions, with varying success:

1.In February, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Autrey issued a temporary injunction to block Ellisville, Mo., from ticketing drivers. Driver Michael Elli had been charged with a moving violation after flashing his headlights to warn oncoming motorists of a speed trap. The city dropped the charge when Elli pleaded not guilty, but the American Civil Liberties Union followed by suing successfully on his behalf. The judge ruled that the driver's action constituted free speech as protected by the First Amendment.

2.Michael Thompson, of Grimsby, England, used his headlights in 2010 to warn motorists of a speed trap, and was charged with willfully obstructing a police officer in the course of her duties. Thompson fought it in court, claiming he was doing his "civic duty." He told the court warning others of a speed trap was a safety issue given that he had previously been involved in a traffic accident because of a speed trap. Thompson said two drivers in front of him braked suddenly upon spotting the radar trap, and while stopped in time, another motorist rear-ended his car. Thompson was fined £175 and was ordered to pay £250 in court costs plus a £15 victims' surcharge.

3.In Australia, Queensland prohibits use of high beams within 200 metres of other vehicles. According to the Courier-Mail, in late 2008 Police Minister Judy Spence said drivers flashing their lights to warn of radar cameras were condoning speeding.
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deal_with_singh wrote: Told me what I did was a "Criminal Offence" and he can arrest me for this, but he's letting me off with what he considers is just a warning ticket for "Fail to use lower beam - following" under HTA 168 (B).

FINE AT $110 and WILL impact my insurance.

I also noticed he used the wrong intersection of where this occurred by about 2km. He put the intersection for the spot he pulled me over, which was roughly 2km from the spot this occurred. Is this alone enough to toss this ticket out?
To be clear the ticket was not a warning it was a violation, the C.C. warning was probably referring to "Dangerous Driving":

249 (1) Every one commits an offence who operates
(a) a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place;

M1K3Z0R wrote: I'd say fight the ticket, the spirit of the HTA section cited is more about driving with the high beams, not flashing them. 168(b) allows you to use high beams when in the act of overtaking or passing, say you were about to pass the slow moving vehicle but changed your mind - " following another vehicle within 60 metres, except when in the act of overtaking and passing. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 168.
Not quite correct, the specific section states that the low beam must be used when following within 60 metres, until such time as you are overtaking and passing; meaning you must be actively passing the vehicle in front (you are now aside that vehicle) and not to be confused with a person's intent to pass and not yet initiated.
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OP, I'd definitely fight this one. Good luck.
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er34er34 wrote: The cop was probably about to book the guy doing below speed limit with the most probable cause being texting. That's why he's chilling beside you(and in the guy's blind spot). Cop probably thought you were tipping him off by flicking your high beams.
I think this too and the ticket was his way of saying let me do my job (+- passive aggressive)
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Oct 2, 2017
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fight the ticket. Sounds like the cop was having a bad day and taking it out on you. Arrest you for flashing your highbeams? lol
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