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Photo radar ticket tossed out because B.C. flag ‘too indistinct’

The driver had the same plate number as the car in the image, but the Crown couldn't prove the photo radar caught a plate from B.C.
Licence plate web
A judge has tossed a North Vancouver photo radar ticket because the B.C. flag captured on the licence plate was 'too indistinct.'

A driver dinged by the North Shore’s only automated speed camera has successfully had his ticket tossed out, arguing there is no proof the licence plate captured in the photo radar sting was one from British Columbia.

The incident happened in June 2020 at the intersection of Capilano Road and Marine Drive, according to court records and a ruling released June 16.

An enforcement officer reviewed the digital evidence gathered by the camera and determined the syntax on the plate follows the same pattern used by the province of B.C., the ruling states, which is two letters and a number followed by two numbers and a letter with a space and B.C. flag decal in between.

“The officer has viewed tens of thousands of images in the course of his duties and despite the fact that the words ‘Province of British Columbia’ are not evident, it is his view that there is a B.C. flag decal, which divides the numbers and letters on the plate,” judicial justice Gerry Hayes wrote. “A subsequent check with ICBC confirms that there is a matching British Columbia plate issued to the disputant, as set out in the certificate evidence.”

When it comes to proving traffic camera cases in court, the Crown has a “relaxed evidentiary burden,” Hayes acknowledged in the ruling. Anyone wishing to dispute an automated ticket must show “evidence to the contrary.”

In fighting his ticket in court, Adrian Vershinin chose to cross examine the enforcement officer and the photos, focussing on the officer’s ability to determine that the licence plate in the certificate image was one issued in the province of British Columbia.

He asked the judge to independently review one image, which had been cropped and zoomed in.

“The certificate of vehicle ownership proves that the disputant has a licence plate registered in their name, which matches the licence plate found in Vehicle Image 4. The Crown relies on the enforcement officer’s interpretation that the ‘decal’ in the image is that of the flag of the province of British Columbia, thus proving the Crown’s case,” Hayes wrote. “The disputant argues that the image of the ‘decal’ is too indistinct to establish the jurisdiction and, having taken a view of the image, I must agree with the disputant in this regard and will enter an acquittal.”

In 2019, the province announced that 35 intersections that already had cameras set to catch red light runners would be modified to capture speeders as well.

In 2021, the speed camera at Capilano and Marine nabbed speeding drivers 462 times, according to RoadSafetyBC, down significantly from the 732 violation tickets for speeding issued there in 2020. Across B.C., 46,700 drivers received speeding tickets from automated cameras in 2021, although there are no readily available stats on how many of them were tossed out.

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