Ontario court to decide speed-limiter appeal in January

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Friday, September 20, 2013

The Ontario Court of Justice heard an appeal this week in a constitutional challenge of the law that mandates speed limiters for heavy trucks. Ministry of Transportation attorneys presented their appeal on Tuesday, Sept. 17, in response to a 2012 ruling by a traffic court judge who said speed limiters violated trucker Gene Michaud’s constitutional right to personal safety.

Gene Michaud, who passed away in July after a lengthy battle with cancer, brought the challenge with the help of the U.S.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association because he felt speed limiters created unsafe driving conditions on the highways.

Michaud, who lived in St. Catharines, Ontario, received a citation from a provincial truck inspector in 2009. Although his truck had a working speed limiter, it was set at 68 mph and not 65 mph or lower as required in the Ontario law.

Michaud’s attorney David Crocker now represents Gene’s wife, Barbara, in the case, which the courts allowed her to carry forward. Crocker says Tuesday’s court appearance was to discuss new information and help the judge decide whether the lower court ruling stands.

“We had a good hearing. The judge read the material and engaged the counsel,” Crocker said Friday.

On June 6, 2012, Ontario Justice of the Peace Brett Kelly ruled that Gene Michaud’s ability to fully control his vehicle was “impaired as opposed to improved” with the speed limiter and that the limiter violated his right to personal safety.

As expected, the Ministry of Transportation appealed, and the Ontario Court of Justice heard that appeal on Tuesday. The judge who heard the appeal intends to issue a written ruling on Jan. 13, 2014.

Both sides of the case presented written and oral testimony for the appeal. Barbara Michaud was not asked to speak in court. She previously told Land Line that she would speak if called upon because the case meant so much to Gene and she wanted to see it through.

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