Unsafe turn

UNDERSTANDING YOUR CHARGE

If you have received a unsafe turn ticket, then you have been charged under section 142 of the Highway Traffic Act.

In order for you to be convicted of an unsafe turn ticket at trial, the prosecution will have to prove:

(1) that you were driving and;

(2a) that you made a UNSAFE right or left turn at any intersection or into a private road or driveway OR

(2b) that you switched from one lane to another UNSAFELY
 
Basically, you are being charged for making an unsafe turn OR for failing to check whether or not a turn or lane change could be made safely before making it. However, you can also be charged under this section for not giving a plain visible signal to another driver who may have been affected by your turn or lane change (think turning without signaling).
 
A unsafe turn charge is strict liability offence as noted in Regina v. L. (M.V.), (1988) (Alta. Prov. Ct). This means that the prosecutor only has to prove that you committed an unsafe turn or unsafe lane change OR that you failed to give a signal to another driver when making a turn or changing lanes. They do not need to prove that you did not mean to make that unsafe turn or lane change. The court in these cases will apply an objective standard, independent of your belief of whether your movement was a safe one. 

POTENTIAL DEFENCES

Review your disclosure and also think about the following:

  1. If the elements of the offence mentioned above can be proven;
  2. Are there any details about the encounter that you remember, that the police officer did not write down?;
  3. Is there anything that the police officer wrote down, but you do not remember?;
  4. Is there anything missing or unclear, that could be clarified with additional disclosure?;
  5. The location of where the police officer alleges he observed you making an unsafe turn;
  6. The lane the police officer said you were in;
  7. If there is a mention of road and weather conditions (i.e. clear or rainy or sunny/dry or wet roads);
  8. If there is a mention of traffic conditions (i.e. busy or heavy traffic, light traffic);
  9. Where the police officer was located when they saw you (i.e. what side of the road?);
  10. Is there an admission from you written in the police officer's notes that you made an unsafe turn? (i.e. the police officer wrote down that you told him/her you made an unsafe turn);
  11. Think about the day you were pulled over. Are there any important details that you think the police officer missed in his/her notes?
  12. How detailed are the police officer's notes? (the more detail, the more convincing the police officer will likely sound at trial);
  13. Check to see what method the police officer used to clock your speed.
Review the case R v. Johnson (2008) for a better idea of how courts handle unsafe turn tickets.