Judge orders new trial in Ontario speed-limiter case

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 7/5/2011

Professional trucker Lee Ingratta has already beaten the province once in court, but if he is to end his battle once and for all against Ontario’s speed-limiter law, he’s going to have to do it again. On Monday, July 4, an appeals judge in St. Catherines ordered a new trial in the case.

With a new trial, the judge is giving the province another chance to beat Ingratta, but it’s also an opportunity for Ingratta to present evidence that Ontario’s inspection process and mechanism can cause damage to a truck’s computer.

“We’re not only going to benefit the Ontario drivers, but all the drivers that come to Ontario and have to deal with this stupid law,” Ingratta said Tuesday.

Ingratta, a one-truck owner-operator from Gravenhurst, Ontario, has built his whole case around the possibility of computer damage during a check for speed limiters in compliance with the provincial law passed in 2008. That’s why the former computer repair shop owner began carrying a home-made waiver in his truck that asks an inspector and the province to assume responsibility for any damage caused during an inspection.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, or MTO, began enforcing truck speed limiters in early 2009. The law requires truck speed to be restricted in the electronic control module at or below 105 kilometers per hour, which is about 65 mph.

During a scale-house stop in July 2009, an MTO officer requested to “plug in” and check Ingratta’s setting. The trucker produced his waiver and to no one’s surprise the officer refused to sign it. The officer then cited Ingratta for refusing to comply with the law.

In his first go-round in court a year later, Ingratta successfully convinced the traffic judge that his concerns were valid, but MTO appealed, and that appeal was heard on Monday.

MTO’s appeal asked the court to dismiss the traffic judge’s ruling and/or order a new trial. Ingratta will learn the new court date later this week. He says it’s likely to be in September or October.

Ingratta is being represented by a Toronto attorney, David Crocker. They are seeking information from truckers and certified mechanics about any damage caused in conjunction with speed-limiter inspections or settings.

Land Line wrote about one such incident in 2009 involving another Ontario owner-operator, Dorothy Sanderson. She produced receipts showing attempts by mechanics to restore computer information she claims was “zapped” during a speed-limiter inspection. Read more about that here.

Like Sanderson, Ingratta is a member of both OOIDA and the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada.

Both associations are fighting the speed-limiter law in Ontario and neighboring Quebec. The associations say speed limiters create unsafe speed differentials on major highways where traffic routinely moves at 75 mph. Posted speed limits on Ontario’s major highways are 100 km/h, or 62 mph.

Another argument against speed limiters is the barrier to competition, whether cross-border or inter-provincial.

OOIDA and OBAC believe the settings should be voluntary business decisions, not mandated.

OBAC has set up a legal defense fund at obac.ca for Ingratta and other truckers battling the speed-limiter law.

Copyright © OOIDA