I went to court for the first time, to fight my bogus "improper muffler" ticket.
I was feeling confident because my police-officer friend told me I'd more than likely win. But, still I did not know what to expect.And if
I could offer anyone advice, that is the only thing I would confidently be able to tell them: expect the worst. The worst Justice of the Peace, the worst behaviour from the officer who charged you, and the worst outcome possible. Do this, and you will be prepared.
If you are looking for how to fight a traffic ticket, the following may or may not help you.
============When I arrived
15 minutes early, I sat outside the courtroom until the prosecutor entered. She was very friendly and I followed her inside. I sat in the second row. Sitting in the front row is not permitted.Soon afterwards
six police officers entered. They all sat in the far back corner and talked amongst themselves. Most of them looked happy and normal. Then I noticed the officer who had issued me the ticket. Officer Peng looked very grumpy and disturbed. Almost angry. Like I had ruined his day by fighting the ticket.When my case
was called I approached the defense table with all the documents I had prepared. I had with me a magazine article on the Porsche Cayman factory exhaust, an independant Harley-Davidson factory exhaust study, results from two decibel tests I conducted on a City bus exhaust, and a Yamaha YZF motorcycle exhaust. I also had with me a letter from my mechanic stating that my exhaust was a properly functioning and properly installed system. I had a copy of the Highway Traffic Act which I supposedly violated, and a list of questions for the officer.The officer
gave his testimony, and was surprisingly disrespectful. He looked behind himself for some of the time, mumbled as though he were fed up or frustrated, and spoke extremely quickly, making it difficult for everyone to hear him. The prosecutor asked him to repeat himself on at least 2 occasions. He also stated falsely that my exhaust sounded like a bee in a tin can, which couldn't be farther from the truth, as my exhaust is low, producing a deep bass tone.When the prosecutor
finished her line of questions, the very pleasant Justice of the Peace indicated I could now ask the officer questions. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that 'Yes' and 'No' questions were the only questions permitted.It was perfectly permissible
for me to ask the officer if he was hung-over that day. (I wanted to know if there was anything interfering with his hearing.) I then asked, "Are you aware that my exhaust IS a properly functioning exhaust that is properly installed by a mechanic
that he did not know how to answer the question. I said, "I want to know if you're aware that my exhaust system functions properly
he stumbled and said he did not know how to answer the question. I said, "It's Yes or No. I just want to know... are you aware
a pretty simple question for anyone beyond primary school and finally he answered, "Well, then, no, I was not aware of that
."When I moved
on to my next question, "Are you aware that my exhaust was specifically designed to meet the strict 95 decibel limit set by
..." the prosecutor stepped in and stopped everything. She said this type of questioning is not permitted and the Justice of the Peace agreed, stating the officer is not expected to know the manufacturing details about my exhaust. She said I'd be able to present that in my defense, when I took the stand.I asked
one final question: "Have you ever stopped a Harley-Davidson or any other motorcycle and issued that same ticket
." was the reply, and I declared I had no more questions.The officer
stepped down and I took the stand. I swore on a Bible that I'd tell only the solemn truth, and the Justice of the Peace asked me to explain why I thought I was not guilty.
My main points to her were facts:
- My exhaust is 95 dB, verified by the manufacturer and a dB meter
- A Porsche Cayman factory exhaust is 99.2 dB
- A Harley-Davidson Softail factory exhaust is 102 dB at cruising speed
- A Yamaha YZF factory exhaust is 116 dB at idle
- A City bus exhaust is 100.2 dB travelling less than 5 km/hour
various magazine articles and explained where these numbers came from. Some were published articles, some were my own independent tests conducted with a decibel meter. I held up the HKS catalogue and read aloud, "HKS exhaust systems that are designated for street use retain all factory emissions equipment and complies with... a noise limit of 95 dB. This is the opposite of the officer's claim that my exhaust was designed to make excessive noise
the Highway Traffic Act to the Justice, "'Every motor vehicle or motor assisted bicycle shall be equipeed with a muffler in good working order... to prevent excessive noise...' which means that all of these vehicles must fall under the same law that my car falls under. And all of these vehicles have much louder exhausts than my car
."Now the prosecutor
had a few questions for me. She asked if I had replaced my exhaust, to which I answered yes. She asked why I had not just gone to Canadian Tire in order to purchase a quiet exhaust. I declared that I did install a quieter exhaust and explained my reason for replacing it was that my previous exhaust was far too loud. She asked if it was fair to say my exhaust was louder than some other cars on the road. I said it was fair.Having successfully
presented many facts to defend myself, I stepped down. Her Worship, the Justice of the Peace re-stated everything the officer had said, and everything I had said in my defense.She agreed
that there were other vehicles, which were louder than my car. She said she did not understand why there were laws that allowed shops to legally sell exhaust systems that violate the Highway Traffic Act. She said she did not have the ability to change that legislature. Then came the result.
She said while there are indeed other vehicles on the road producing more noise than my exhaust, for example the city bus, police officers cannot possibly stop every single one of them. She continued, stating, "unfortunately, the officer stopped you that day, therefore I find you guilty of the offense of Improper Muffler contrary to the Highway Traffic Act
the legal system justify this? They can't. Feel free to make any assumptions about corruption you wish. You cannot have police officers stopping evey single bus to issue a ticket, thereby delaying the entire transit system. The city would fall apart. And imagine how silly it would be to have city employees (bus drivers) paying the city fines.I gathered
my things, angry at the hypocricy and illegal political partisanship within our city. The principles of equal treatment under the law do not exist here in Ontario.The Justice of the Peace
had agreed my car was not as loud as the Porsche. She had agreed it was not as loud as every motorcycle on the road, and most importatly she agreed in her closing statement that it was not as loud as an official city vehicle. Yet she found me guilty despite these facts, which, by example, puts all city buses in violation of the Highway Traffic Act. Yet you will never see a police officer stopping a bus.I looked
at the officer as I left the courtroom but he refused to make eye contact with me. Instead, with his head down, he turned to his right, and stared straight into the wall, like a small child who knows he just did something wrong.
Labels: court, exhaust, fight, hypocricy, illegal, offense, ticket