Vellacott gets his day in court!
Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott was fined $206 Friday after he was found guilty of failing to slow to 60 km/h while passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.
Vellacott, 51, represented himself in a trial at traffic court, where he questioned the accuracy of the radar unit that showed he was travelling 88 km/h as he passed an RCMP cruiser that had pulled over a different vehicle last Aug. 8 on Highway 11, about 1.6 kilometres south of the Warman overpass.
The radar was operated by Const. Darcy McGunigal in a second vehicle, which also had all of its lights flashing and which had stopped about three car lengths behind the first cruiser.
Vellacott said he slowed as he came over the hill and saw the flashing lights. He didn’t check his speedometer but estimated that he slowed to 60 km/h, “or maybe a few clicks over,” he said.
“I was in the left lane. I don’t think I was a risk to anyone at all,” he said.
He suggested his 1996 Dodge minivan, in the left lane of the divided highway, was too far left for the radar “cone” to have captured it as it passed the front cruiser.
“If he wasn’t in the cone, we wouldn’t have a reading,” Crown prosecutor Larry Danylyshen said.
Vellacott also suggested the radar reading may have been taken after his van had progressed out of the passing zone intended by the legislation, after he had passed both cruisers and was accelerating back to normal highway speed.
McGunigal and his partner that night, Const. Dean Yuzik, both said the reading was locked in just as Vellacott’s van was beside the other cruiser.
“It’s mostly common sense. Obviously, when you’re beside the emergency vehicle, you’re in the zone,” Yuzik said.
Vellacott also suggested the radar reading might have been affected by the beam hitting a rear-view mirror on one of the vehicles.
“No. I think that’s ludicrous,” McGunigal said.
Vellacott said he knew he should slow for emergency vehicles but doesn’t think he was aware the limit was 60 km/h.
“Ignorance of the law is not an exception,” said justice of the peace Kim Dmytryshyn, who noted there have been police officers killed by passing vehicles during such traffic stops. She also ordered Vellacott to pay a $30 surcharge.
Vellacott said he will research whether radar can be affected by reflecting off mirrors and will be offended if he finds they can be.
From the Star Pheonix