Ticket a tale of here today, gone tomorrow
The Hamilton Spectator
(Aug 4, 2009)
I consider myself a pretty good driver, so when I was pulled over by a Toronto police officer in the spring of 2008, I was surprised.
I was making a left turn at an intersection downtown. The light was green and I drove into the intersection, with left signal on, and stopped, waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. The light turned yellow. I was about to finish the turn and clear the intersection, when a blue car came from the opposite direction to run the light.
I waited in the intersection until he made it through. By then the light had turned red.
I further hesitated when I saw a police car approaching, thinking the officer was going to chase the light blue car that ran the light. She didn't and slowed to stop. At that point I finished my turn.
Then, I looked into my rear-view mirror to see the flashing red lights of the police car. I pulled over and waited for the officer, the whole time thinking "What have I done?"
She said I took too long to exit the intersection: "You shouldn't enter the intersection if you can't make the turn before red."
I thought back to what happened and wondered how I could have exited the intersection any sooner without being broadsided by the blue car. When we talked, I realized what I saw was very different from what she thought had happened. The officer didn't see the blue car run the light but did see me turn on a red.
She told me to take it to court as it was worth three demerit points and tell it to the judge.
I sat there stunned that our stories were so different. I wrote down the whole story after the officer left.
When I looked at the ticket the charge was "Amber light -failed to stop."
Stop? I was sitting there until the light turned red waiting for traffic to clear.
Deciding to take it to court, I wasted half a day lining up downtown in a sweaty municipal courthouse to get a trial.
The whole time I'm thinking, is any of this worth it?
For the next 15 months I thought that even if I lose, I'll have something I can talk about on CHML.
Last week, after almost forgetting about the whole thing, I went to the mailbox and there was a letter from Ontario Court of Justice Provincial Offences Office, City of Toronto. The theme from the old Dragnet show rang through my head as soon as I saw it.
Well this is it, Scott. The long arm of the law has finally caught up with you. I even waited to open it so not to spoil my pre-show mood.
When I did, you can imagine how surprised I was (again!) to read "The charge noted above has been withdrawn. The case is now complete. There is no conviction. No further action is required on your part."
What?!? It also said "contact the Prosecution office" if you have any other questions. My wife quickly suggested I just move on and enjoy my good fortune.
But what about the notes I kept, the anxiety of waiting for trial? Has justice been served? (I think it was thrown out because of a backlog, resulting in the case taking too long to get to trial.)
Then the voice in my head said, "Sit down you moron and consider yourself lucky!"
I did just that. See what happens when you stick up for something you think is right?
Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.
The Scott Thompson Show airs weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. on News/Talk 900 CHML.
Visit his personal website at ScottThompsonTalk.com