Canadian trucker presents 'defense of necessity' in speed-limiter case

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 3/6/2012

Owner-operator and OOIDA Member Lee Ingratta says he was only trying to protect his truck from damage when he asked a truck inspector to sign a damage waiver during an inspection in 2009. Ingratta was in court Monday, March 5, in defense of a citation for failing to comply with the law in his native Ontario that requires heavy trucks to be equipped with speed limiters.

Ingratta’s attorney David Crocker of Toronto says the goal of the defense was not to determine whether Ingratta refused to allow the officer to check for a working speed limiter, but to show that the one-truck owner was only looking out for his asset.

“We couldn’t argue that this wasn’t a refusal, because the appeals judge said it was,” Crocker said. “We argued what’s called a defense of necessity in Canadian law. That means that his actions are justified or that he has an excuse for his actions.”

As the speed-limiter law took effect in early 2009 in Ontario and neighboring Quebec, Ingratta began carrying with him a waiver that asked the province and the inspector to accept any damage caused by the computerized hookup during a check of the speed setting.

Crocker questioned Ingratta, a former computer technician turned trucker, why he would be concerned about such an inspection.

“He stated that he had a concern about static electricity and that the inspector was not grounded,” Crocker said.

Crocker called a Cummins technician to the stand who testified that he had seen instances in which truck computers were affected after undergoing provincial inspections. Also taking the stand was owner-operator and OOIDA Member Gene Michaud, who says he had a truck catch on fire some time after a provincial inspector checked his truck.

Michaud continues to fight a separate court case that challenges the constitutionality of the Ontario speed-limiter law. Crocker is handling both cases.

A typical fine is $390 for not having a working speed limiter in Ontario set at or below 105 kilometers per hour, or about 65 mph. The law makes no regard as to where a truck is base-plated.

In 2010, Ingratta beat his initial ticket in court, but the provincial Ministry of Transportation appealed. The appellate judge dismissed the traffic court ruling but ordered a new trial in the case.

That trial lasted most of the day on Monday. The judge announced he would make his decision public on July 20.

The judge in Michaud’s constitutional challenge, who heard his testimony in January, is preparing to reveal his decision on June 6.

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