Manitoba

Manitoba judge throws out 2nd speeding ticket citing court backlog

A second Winnipeg driver has seen a speeding charge thrown out by a Winnipeg judge because of excessive court delays.

A Winnipeg man pleaded not guilty to a 2014 speeding charge, waited 19 months for court date

A second Winnipeg driver has seen a speeding charge thrown out by a provincial judge because of lengthy court delays, in this case, a man waited 19 months for his trial.

Justin Segodnia saw his 2014 traffic ticket was stayed on Tuesday after he was forced to wait more than a year for his day in court to fight the charge.

"Highway traffic matters lingering in the courts and gathering dust are in no one's interest," provincial court Judge Cynthia A. Devine wrote in her decision.

"Public confidence in the prompt and fair administration of justice requires a stay of proceedings in this case."

Devine called Segodnia's wait time of 19 months was an "excessive delay."

"Overall he's very happy," said Inderjit Singh, the lawyer representing Segodnia.

"Traffic tickets need to proceed in a reasonable fashion, they need to be dealt with," he said.

Segodnia was accused of speeding on Oct. 18, 2014 along the Disraeli Freeway in Winnipeg, according to court documents. He was not driving in a construction zone or school zone and there was no evidence of unsafe driving conditions, noted Devine.

"It was early in the morning, I was on my way to work," Segodnia told CBC.

"Coming off the Disraeli, [I] got pulled over ... I've never been pulled over before and haven't been pulled over since."

The officer who issued his speeding ticket told him he was travelling 76 kilometres per hour in a 60 km/h zone; however Segodnia disputes the number.

Everything 'seemed a little off'

"He showed me on the radar gun a speed that was 13 [km/h] over the speed limit, and then, he wrote up a ticket that was 15 [km/h] over the speed limit," Segodnia said.

"So everything just seemed a little off."

Segodnia said the officer showed him the radar gun which calculated he was travelling 73 km/h but his ticket said he had been traveling 75 km/h. This discrepancy as well as the accused believed the speedometer in this vehicle was slow by as much as 10 per cent led him to plead not guilty, said court documents.

Segodnia entered his not guilty plea on Dec. 17, 2014 and on March 2, 2015 his trial date was set for May 24, 2016.

According to Devine, a not guilty plea to a simple speeding ticket should have been decided within the first few months of the charge, not more than a year later.

Segodnia said he is glad he doesn't have to pay his roughly $250 ticket, but he said he's concerned the average person may not have the resources to argue that their charter rights have been violated if they also have to wait as long as he did to fight a ticket.

"If you can't afford to exercise your rights than you can't get them," Segodnia said.

Last week, a woman saw her 2014 traffic ticket dismissed after having waited 18 months for her trial date after the alleged speeding incident. Her lawyer successfully argued her charter rights had been violated.

Segodnia's lawyer said the courts are sending a message to Manitoba's justice system that lengthy delays facing drivers fighting traffic tickets are not ok.

"It's the courts telling the Manitoba justice system that things have to be corrected," said Singh.

Traffic court is often the only exposure Manitobans have to the justice system and it's important that it not tarnish their view of it, he added.

"If that's their only experience, their own personal experience, then I think it would leave people with a sour taste," said Singh.

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