Lifestyles

Court not place for complaints

You've just received a traffic ticket and that fact hasn't shed any sunshine on your day. It's bad enough that this has happened, but from your point of view the officer was less than gracious when they issued it to you. I'll dispute the ticket and tell the court exactly what I think may cross your mind as you consider your situation. Surely the justice will see my point and give me a break!

Fast forward to your trial and your opportunity to give evidence on your own behalf. You start to tell the justice how badly you were treated at the roadside only to find that your testimony is being brought to a halt. The justice asks that you confine your evidence to the circumstances of the traffic violation, not the officer's manner of serving the ticket. He or she is not interested in the officer's demeanor, just the facts of the case. If you are not happy with the officer that is a matter for you to take up with others.

The proper authorities for receiving any complaint of a police officer's conduct in British Columbia is either the police force that the officer belongs to or the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. Their job is to listen to your complaint and resolve it. Where the traffic court justice lacks the power to remedy your situation, if a remedy is merited, this is not true of these two agencies.

So, use your time wisely and effectively. Dispute your traffic ticket on legal grounds and make your conduct complaints where appropriate if they are merited. Remember, roadside interactions are often recorded today. This will support you if you are truthful and the recording has been made.

For more information about this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.

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