Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guilty as charged

Today was the day of reckoning for my FIRST ever traffic violation. I decided to challenge it in court because I'm told there is fifty-fifty chance the police officer will not show and the case will be dismissed. Well he showed up and I knew Captain Doug was going down...but not before a fight.

I check in only to be approached by the prosecutor to negotiate a lessor fine. She would lesson the demerit points from three to two and the fine from $110 to $85. I've haggled around the world, and I thought my negotiating skills could do better. So no dice, I want to contest things.

Then I'm taken in the waiting room by the police officer and he explains why I'm here. How do I want to plea? I said not guilty. He just shook his head in disgust.

I return to hear every one's plea. (There's about 10 others looking do get off). They all try to get a lessor fine because of student loans, no job, poor paying job, etc. I'm thinking I hope the judge doesn't ask what I do. If he does, I'm going down.I waited for others to state their case. Everyone went with "guilty."

But before I get to make my say the judge takes a recess. Captain Doug is the only one in the court room. I'm thinking conspiracy.

The judge returns and asks my plea, "guilty or not guilty?" I say, "not guilty under the conditions at the time." He immediately said it has to be "guilty" or "not guilty," nothing in between. Funny, I don't remember life being like that, "on or off," binary..."zero or one," "yes or no." But this was not the time to get philosophical.

I am told there will be a court hearing starting now. Try to envision there is a well groomed judge, a court steno, a prosecutor, the police officer making time and a half, plus another bullet proof vest ladened police officer also making time and a half protecting the court, and Captain Doug in shorts.

I thought I was in a play in high school. I'm on the stand swearing under oath. Please keep in mind this is not for first degree murder, but doing a "neighbourhood stop." Another interesting side note, one has the option of not swearing under oath using the bible. I chose to avoid the bible. I figure there's no place for religion in the flight deck so why should it be there for a "rolling stop" conviction.

The police officer makes his case on the stand. I make mine with pictures. Gee, this is just like the movies, as the pictures are recorded as exhibit 1 and exhibit 1A.

The prosecutor cross examines the police officer and then me. I get to ask the police officer questions. He said I made the turn gong 20-25 km/hr. I asked him, wouldn't I be on two wheels going that fast at a ninety degree turn? That didn't go down too well.

Then the judge regurgitates the entire proceedings. He referenced a case in Quebec whereby a driver failed to come to a complete stop while sliding in icy conditions. The driver was guilty. I had a flash back of me taxing in Toronto this winter and slid onto a runway because of ice. Luckily the runway was not active. But does the same ruling apply? My defense...elevated manhole covers existed everywhere and I was driving appropriately according to the conditions.

The police officer mentioned I was driving a black BMW. As soon as he said that, I knew Captain Doug will be thrown in the slammer. Please remember the entire case took 25 minutes with five well paid people present.

Final verdict: Three demerit points (the judge said he couldn't change that) but the fine was reduced from $110 to $50 because of my 33 year impeccable driving record.

Years ago, I would have paid the fine without contesting things. Maybe it's a captain thing or maybe I truly believe I was in the right?

Last week I received my first parking ticket. Yes, believe it or not. While doing work on my driveway I was committed to park on the road overnight. Well my town has a three hour limit unknown to me. A $35 ticket was found on my car in the morning. I march down to city hall a few days later and protest it. Again they are not capable of cancelling it, but I did get it reduced to $16.

Anyone want to buy a black BMW? It ain't worth it. :)


Andrew said...

you should get one of those covers that disguise it as a bucket of bolts


From the Flight Deck said...

Good one Andrew. I like it!!!

Doug Morris said...

A black bimmer. Ya might as well put a target on the back, Doug. I think you did very well. Good work!
Haven't written a ticket in 14 years. Too busy looking for fingerprints! Still looking for you on those YOW flights! Cheers!

The Other DM.

ATC Happenings said...

Well even if you didn't get off completely, at least you had a bit of an adventure out of it.

From the Flight Deck said...

ATC Happenings. Excellent point. I had nothing on the go for the afternoon and I thought, "I'm going to milk this."

I heard some pilots on their layovers would go to the local courts and watch proceedings. It does offer an entertainment value.

From the Flight Deck said...

The other Doug M

Thanks Doug. Even though I did get three demerit points I was impressed by how professional everybody was.
My brother is a sergeant with Toronto police and he always mentioned court duty. Now I know what transpires.

Although it is a bit disconcerting how much money was spent to conclude a "rolling stop" infraction.
But I guess that's the way it has to be. I know one thing, the best way to deal with the law is to stay away
from it. :)

I'll be heading to YOW this Friday on a layover. Are you heading over?

Captain Doug

whywhyzed said...

Why do police officers make time-and-a-half for going to court?

From the Flight Deck said...

whywhyzed. I think it's deemed "above and beyond." As you know, the Toronto media opened up a can of worms about the number of police officers making over $100,000a year.

Andrew said...

bit disconcerting the amount of money beings spent for the G summits :/


From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew, I agree. I have to fly tomorrow and I'm wondering what kind of mess will greet me enroute to the airport and whether or not airspace/runways will be closed.

I know these dignitaries will be getting the utmost treatment. Rumour has it Bill Clinton had Boston Logan closed for awhile because he was getting a haircut on Airforce One.
But then knowing Billy, maybe it was something more he was getting. :)

Andrew said...

haha here at guelph (CNC4) rmwy 32/14 is outside the 30nm buffet zone but our other rnwy 23/05 is inside :S quite a mess.

Doug Morris (The Other One) said...

I feel fortunate I'm missing the G20 because of my move! We only usually get court overtime on our days off. Though it seems court is often set so it ruins a set of days off. Rather have the unfettered time and go to court when I'm working. It can be very entertaining! Friday I'll be at YLW going the other way! No YOW trips until I move there at the beginning of August now apparently, Doug. Then probably several between Ottawa and YYC,YLW and YVR. And a YYT in October. Just when the weather starts to turn. Great. Not that it doesn't get nasty at any time of the year!

From the Flight Deck said...

The other Doug. I'm hearing it's kind of chaotic downtown, but that was to be expected.
I'm off to Montreal and back this morning and then to St.John's for the night.

YYT in the fall can be quite nice except for the odd remnant of hurricane rolling through.

With all that flying you must be poking into the elite status?

Maybe we will hitch up once you are in YOW?

All the best

Gone flying

Daniel said...

NFLD is nice when the icebergs are flowing. Have you ever done that when you went to NFLD? Could waste some time although I don't think night would be a good time for that.

Rob42 said...


When I was in my late 20s, a colleague few years older told me that once you hit 30, you just don't feel like putting up with other people's...rubbish any more. Clearly you've just ticked over that age ;-).

Doug Morris(The Other One) said...

Close, but they have me flying that other airline periodically, especially on the short hops.

From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew. Interesting stuff about the Guelph's runway proximity.

I flew through YYZ yesterday and not one problem.

About to head there again this morning and then off to YOW for the day.

From the Flight Deck said...

Rob42. Funny I remember my mother saying the same thing years ago. It gets to a point where you tend to challenge things a little more. But then again, with age comes reason and wisdom making one ask, "why bother?"

From the Flight Deck said...

The other Doug Morris. So....the other Doug is flying the other airline? Sounds paradoxical to me. :)
Actually truth be told the other airline does a great job and I know quite a few pilots there.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. This year I have not seen any ice along Newfoundland what so ever. Yes, now and again an iceberg would be parked off YYT. Not this year. The only thing sitting off the coast this year, and right now, (I'm in YYT) is FOG. :)

carlton said...

As its my 30th birthday today - I entirely agree with Rob 42 - especially living in London where people try to fine and get money from you in every shape and form - enough is enough.

I would have done the same thing.


Esi said...

Dear Captain,

Your weblog is pretty fascinating. It's nice to see a pilot shares his stories with other people.

I have a question if you don't mind. Before asking the question, please let me tell you that my dad is also a captain on MD-83 (he soon becomes a designator), and I also have this ambition to become an airline pilot.

Well, I'm asking this question, because when I was reading the comments in a forum with the title of "Airline pilot Prestige" I was literally blowing up. !! I don't go through the details, but there was a debate between two groups of people where the first group were believing that piloting is still a glamorous job, and the second group were saying that piloting in North America is not like before (70's, 80’s) as flying is notconsidered as a rare way of transportation anymore, and additionally everything is computerized in the cockpit, so that the pilots are not professionals who need to meet a considerable training and have a set of special abilities. Simply, they didn't have respect for pilots anymore, like (lawyers, Doctors, etc).

Technically, I know that this is a wrong idea to think that as everything is computerized in EFIS based airplanes, the job of the pilot is changed or reduced. It's only your indicators that are changed and became layer by layer. But everything is still there!

So to make it short, I just wanted to ask you that as a pilot in Canada, do you see any change in the respect that society gives to the pilots or not?

I hope you give me an answer that I can sleep tonight..;) (but please let me know the truth).

Lastly, I did not ask this question from my dad, as in my country piloting is still a verrrry glamorous job.

All the bests,

E-mail: [email protected]


Jim said...

Captain Doug, regarding your recent experience in court take solace in the fact that Canada did away with the death penalty awhile back.

Mark said...

Didn't you say that your brother is in Metro? You need some cop friends to get you off of these tickets! I have a few copper friends; I'll send you the photos later of me hanging with them!
If you are seriously interested in selling the wheels, I'm on the market for a car. I'll take over CAPT 320.
Had my 3rd solo tonight. 42 mins. They keep getting a bit longer
Love it.
All the best Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Mark. Just finished a three day pairing and then a Tampa turn today. Hence the slow reply.

Yes, my brother is Metro, but I sense there is a fraternity amongst them. If you get a ticket, you are all on your own.Even the judge said he did not have the ability to eliminate the three demerit points.

I'll be holding onto the car until the fall. As far as car woes, my daughter had our other car park on a street in an affluent neighbour. She came out only to find someone smashed the back window out and dented the hatchback door with a huge rock. Now it's a $300 deductible Captain Doug has to come up with.

I see you are precisely to the minute regarding time. Every new pilot does the same. But we airline pilots watch our time to the minute as well.
Not to log more time, but that's how we are paid, by the minute. And it adds up.

Happy flying


From the Flight Deck said...

Jim. I concur, the death penalty would be a little harsh for a "rolling stop." :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Esi. I still think the "airline pilot" job is still well respected. If you attend a gathering or party, you'll have lots of people asking questions about the profession. They all want to share stories about their travel experiences. I'm not sure whether a banker, accountant or middle manager would have that "wow" power.

But it's true. The awe of the pilot position is waning. Not because the job is easier, but because people realize it frequently comes with low pay, long hours away from home, extreme
regulations and job security is near fantasy.

But you take a look at a child's face when they see a pilot at an airport or in the airplane. There is still lots of respect out there. You'll also see the parents doing their utmost to have the child spot the pilot. "Look honey, there's the pilot."

For some airlines, especially the Asian carriers, each flight attendant must shake the captain's hand during crew call. For many countries around the world, an airline pilot position (especially captain) is still treated as a "demi-god."

Our job in North America has been knocked down a few notches. There's security searches in front of our passengers, other unions with the "me too" clause, people assuming the job is that much easier with computers and glass cockpits and so on. That's probably why most pilot's children are not pursuing this profession.
I know my three children will be giving it a miss.

For me, it's still a glamourous position but with conditions. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Carlton. Happy belated birthday. I hear you about fines. I approach the tax man with the same vengeance.

Sadly, sometimes it's like beating a dead horse.

From the Flight Deck said...

Rob42. I agree. The older you get, you tend to challenge things a lot more.

Captain Doug

Anonymous said...

I figure there's no place for religion in the flight deck so why should it be there for a "rolling stop" conviction.

What are you getting at here?

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. What do I mean? For today's court of law, it's unnecessary to swear on the bible (my opinion).
Seems they agree since you have the option of the bible or not.

Nor does religion belong in the flight deck. (my opinion)

One has to keep it separate.

Jerry Hung said...

I drive a Black 3-series, I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN!! :) especially when I bargain for deals

And I went to court to fight off my $35/$40 bylaw parking tickets too...for parking in between my garage and the road "driveway"!!

I so believe Recession led to all this government cash grab!

Found out your blog via FlyerTalk, RSS subscribed!!

From the Flight Deck said...

Jerry. Let us BMW owners unite! :)

Funny, it's engrained into police officers not to profile. Yah right. I guess they are only human. I have to watch what I say, my brother is a sergeant.

It's also similar to when a pilot discusses finances. As soon as you tell them you are a pilot, they automatically think you are making over $200,000.
I hear story after story about pilots trying to convince people that it truly is their meager wage.

Thanks for the comment.

It made me feel better. :)