Today Ian Mulgrew wrote in The Vancouver Sun in his article “Excessive noise is in the ear of the beholder”; Bruce Wayne used self-procurement to equip his alter-ego, Batman, but why would we let B.C. cops pack their own unregulated crime-fighting devices?
BC traffic courts will accept, with increasing frequency, simply a police officer’s word that you were speeding or committing other offences. For some things there are few grey areas but others require measurement instruments to prove a charge in court. Stopping for a stop sign for instance; you either did or you didn’t stop. The grey area might be the circumstance that prevented you from stopping or stopping completely behind the line. That could be up for discussion and does not require a device to corroborate the observation in order to prove the charge.
Whereas speed is more difficult to measure and because of it taxpayers are willing to fund expensive LIDAR and RADAR devices, to objectively /accurately measure speed infractions; particularly as so much these days can be riding on the outcome of a charge. The same goes for noise. While the human ear can tell if something is loud or not so loud, the processing of the noise may be affected by many factors and (in the case of some of the writers today) the receivers’ degree of appreciation or agitation of / to the type of sound. So we have devices to measure sound, as well as objective thresholds with testing protocols to define and measure both speed and sound. If device accuracy were in question and / or testing protocol was not followed, once upon a time the courts likely would dismiss a charge. Radar under certain circumstances can produce eroneous speed readings for an operator. Decibel meters operated too close to concrete walls or where there is high ambient noise can produce higher readings… for instance.
Imagine, if you will, that you were pulled over having consumed a glass of wine having displayed no sign of intoxication by your driving. However, you blew a “fail” on the breath testing device. While you might be miffed that you were not intoxicated and had done nothing with your driving to attract attention, it’s a good bet you’d be even more upset if you found out the police officer carried his own device that he’d used to corroborate his “suspicion” that you were intoxicated. Breath testing devices are specifed in the Criminal Code and with good reason.
The Minister of Public Safety recently confirmed that there are NO published standards for certain equipment the police use to measure evidence being gathered to prosecute drivers under the BC Motor Vehicle Act. So if you’ve ever been to court to contest a speeding ticket and observed the standard disclaimer along with other evidence, consisting of equipment type, operator training, when the training was completed, when equipment calibrated and how it was calibrated etc., it may come as a surprise when you learn that nowhere is it specified what kind of equipment is used, or whether it must be of a certain type and / or department issued.
True enough, the likelihood that individual members of police and RCMP will buy their own LIDAR is not great; but today they could if they wanted to. However breath testing and noise devices are not so expensive, and in the case of the decibel meter there’s at least one VPD traffic cop who feels strongly enough about his mission in life, that he’s gone out and purchased his own equipment to measure noise. It’s no problem if it’s just for his own use however the day he shows up in court and offers it as accurate objective evidence to support a conviction, it is a problem. And that’s what he did or attempted to do (once his evidence was called into question, the JP figured it out and said it wasn’t needed for a conviction).
Predictably, people have responded to The Vancouver Sun article and focused their hatred towards noisy motorcycles and the need to silence them at all costs. Ok, understood, we don’t like them either. However do these same people feel it’s ok to allow this lack of process and standardization in evidence measurement and do they feel comfortable with their courts overlooking this? I hope not.
So theoretically police can acquire their equipment at a dollar store to measure your speed and noise infractions.
If the burden of proof being demanded by BC traffic courts is now so low that it’s not necessary for an accurate objective or for that matter any objective measurement to obtain a conviction, it leads to the questions:
1) Why does the taxpayer supply RADAR for virtually every police cruiser?
2) How comfortable are you knowing that you can have your vehicle impounded for excessive speed on a visual estimate, and potentially permanently seized and sold for offences, based on an officer’s estimate?
See below for some examples of mail. What do you think?
I read the story today about you fighting an excessive noise ticket you got for riding a Harley equipped with shotgun pipes. I too rode loud and/or unmuffled bikes – when I was a teenager. I outgrew it decades ago. It’s long past time you did too. Why should the rest of us have to suffer listening to a bunch of arrested adolescents shattering the peace and quiet with their “look at me” childish nonsense?
Put your efforts into fighting the Big Brother cameras and other such useful endeavours and stop the juvenile nonsense, it only damages your credibility.
And put some baffles on your bike!
I have absolutely no sympathy for you or others who have such loud motorcycles. Hopefully someday such machines will be banned. I am not against motorcycles, just the loud ones certain bikers need to boost their ego. I don’t care if the police officer used his own device or if he even just used his judgement, it’s well past time to crack down on those excessive noise makers. There are other people living in society other than loud motorcycle riders and it’s time we don’t have hear that excessive noise anymore!