What is the difference between careless driving and imprudent driving?
Under section 95(2) of the Manitoba Highway Traffic Act, imprudent driving is directly related to the road conditions and speeds. When officers issue this ticket, they must relate the road/weather conditions, the proximity to children/playgrounds/schools, or any property in the area that may be in danger with the failure of the driver to reduce speed.
A Manitoba truck driver says he doesn’t know if he’ll fight a ticket he received in the mail after another motorist told RCMP he was driving recklessly.
Stephen Tower said he was astonished when he was fined $203.80 based on allegations from another motorist that he drove his personal car “imprudently” last month.
However, he said police won’t tell him who reported him in the first place, or if there are any dashcam videos or photos to support the allegations.
“I didn’t know if such a thing was possible without any kind of evidence or video evidence or something,” he told CBC’s Information Radio program on Monday.
“That’s what really bothers me about this ticket … I’m guilty until proven innocent.”
The ticket refers to Tower’s personal Honda Civic driving in the Rural Municipality of Rockwood at around 2 p.m. on Jan. 15.
Tower said he doesn’t recall any specific incident that would have prompted a complaint.
“I travel on this stretch of highway at 100 km/h with my cruise control, and when I come up to people going 90 or 85 or whatever I usually pass them when it’s safe to do so,” he said.
“All I can figure is someone didn’t like the fact that I passed them and phoned the RCMP and explained to them whatever. I mean, I know nothing until I take them to court. It’s all a big mystery.”
The fine was issued under Section 95(3) of the provincial Highway Traffic Act, which addresses “reasonable and prudent speed.”
Tower said he usually drives the speed limit and will sometimes even drive below it to save fuel mileage if he’s on a four-lane highway and has plenty of time.
“I have 15 merits on my licence, I drive professionally. I don’t know what else to tell you,” he said.
Not a common occurrence for RCMP
Sgt. Bert Paquet, a spokesperson with the RCMP in Manitoba, says it’s “not very common at all” for officers to issue a driving ticket based on what another motorist has reported.
“It’s not something we see on a regular basis, however it is a provision of the highway traffic act to issue a violation ticket on an offence that has been observed by a witness,” he said.
Paquet said someone who wants to report another motorist must be willing to provide a full statement to police and go to court if necessary.
“It’s more than just a phone call, but more to take the time to provide a witness description of the vehicle, description of the offence, date, time, location,” he said.
“These steps are in place to ensure that it is more than just a phone call, a plate number and [someone saying], ‘I want this person charged.'”
He added that RCMP “try to take many steps as possible to ensure that the complainant or the witness is telling the truth and is willing to go to court.”
“At the end of the day, someone will swear oath to tell the truth about an offence that they allegedly have observed,” he said.
As for why Tower cannot access the evidence against him until he goes to court, Paquet said that would apply in any other criminal case.
But Tower said he’s not sure if he’ll fight the ticket or just pay the fine.
He said a traffic ticket defence firm has offered to fight it for him, but doing so could cost more than the fine itself as well as costs related to the two demerit points he’ll receive.
“Financially, it’s a washout,” he said.
“I have to bother my employer for a day off, which is not good for them, so I don’t stand to really remediate the situation because I lose my wages, which is more than what the ticket is.”