Montreal

Montreal man contesting ticket for walking on street to avoid icy sidewalk

"I honestly feel because I didn't tell him where I was going, because I wasn't polite with him, he got upset. And that's why he decided to give me a ticket," said Lateef Martin.

Lateef Martin says race was a factor in his exchange with police on Saturday

Montrealer Lateef Martin is fighting a ticket he got for walking in the street when he said sidewalks were too icy. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

Lateef Martin was walking along Messier Street in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood around 1:30 a.m. Saturday when he was ticketed for not using the sidewalk.

He says he was leaving a friend's house and chose to walk in the street because the sidewalks were slick with ice and snow.

"So, naturally, I'm walking in the street because the street is a lot safer," said Martin. 

He said he was being especially careful because his friend fell and hurt her knee on the same sidewalk earlier that day.

When a car approached, he moved to the side. It was a police cruiser, and he says an officer inside asked if everything was OK, to which he replied, "yes."

"And [then] he goes, 'Where are you going?'" said Martin. "I was like, 'Well, none of your business, you don't need to know where I'm going.'"

"He seems flabbergasted that I refused to tell him where I'm going."

He says that's when the officer told him he would be ticketed for walking on the road, and that if he refuses to provide identification, then he'll be arrested.

"I honestly feel because I didn't tell him where I was going, because I wasn't polite with him, he got upset. And that's why he decided to give me a ticket," said Martin, who posted a video of part of the exchange with police on Facebook.

He was ticketed $48 for violating Article 452 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code, which states: "Where there is a sidewalk bordering the roadway, a pedestrian must use it."

Lateef Martin was walking on a residential street early Saturday when he was questioned by police. 0:57

Montreal police declined an interview, instead sending CBC Montreal the section of the Highway Safety Code cited on Martin's ticket.

Martin, who is black and was walking with his hood on, says race was a factor in the exchange.

"Automatically, the Trayvon Martin situation came into my head," he said. "The fact that I'm wearing a hood and there's a police authority there harassing me."

He is planning to contest the ticket.

Lawyer recommends keeping pictures of icy sidewalk

A Montreal lawyer who regularly consults clients on traffic offences thinks he has a good chance of winning.

"The law seems to be pretty clear," said lawyer Avi Levy.

The law states that a pedestrian must use sidewalks, but that if they are impossible to use, then the pedestrian can walk along the road as long as they ensure they're not putting anyone in danger.

"I don't see how this ticket would be warranted if he says that as his defence," said Levy, who is also the co-founder of Ticket911.ca, which offers legal advice for people who get traffic tickets in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.

He recommended Martin bring pictures of the sidewalk and copies of the weather report for that week when he contests his ticket.

Martin said he decided to contest the ticket to try to spur a change in police practices.

"We need to stand up and say it's unacceptable. And the only way that's going to happen is when people make a point of it," he said.

Lateef Martin was walking along Messier Street in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood around 1:30 a.m. Saturday when he was ticketed for not using the sidewalk. Lateef Martin says race was a factor in his exchange with police on Saturday 12:49

With files from CBC's Daybreak

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.