Seatbelt usage in a taxi cab

Hello,

I am disputing tickets my partner and I received last March 2016 regarding seat belt usage in a taxi cab.

Our hearing is set for tomorrow. I apologize if I am a little late getting to this forum as I didn't know until yesterday it existed.

I am looking for advice for appearing in front of the judge tomorrow.

This is the situation:

My partner and I live in Victoria and finally able to afford it, decided to go out to dinner in North Saanich.  Not wanting to drink and drive, we went to the expense of booking a hotel in Sidney and took a taxi to the restaurant and back .  On the way back to the hotel after our dinner, the taxi driver went through a road block immediately after turning off the highway onto Beacon Avenue, directly across from the hotel where we were staying.   The taxi driver told us not to worry as we were in a cab and it would be just a formality.

The police officer checked inside the cab and asked my partner and I for our drivers licenses and did not say another word to us including why she wanted to see them; in fact, I thought we were being id'd for some unknown reason.

I asked the cab driver what was going on – he said maybe seat belt – I said my understanding was that I did not need to wear a seatbelt in a taxi cab (which also includes other public transportation: ie.a bus, etc.) – I have been in many taxi cabs over the years and gone through road blocks and NOT ONCE been told I needed to wear my seat belt.  The taxi driver then pointed out a tiny sign (which I could not read from the back seat) on the glove box that indicated passengers were to wear seat belts.

After a very lovely evening, I was very upset.  I felt that we were doing the right thing by not drinking and driving and went to the expense of booking a hotel room only to be given an expensive ticket for not wearing a seat belt after years of being in a cab and not wearing one.

Once back at the hotel I mentioned to the desk clerk what had happened and she stated that the RCMP set up road blocks at that particular spot (across from the hotel) and that many tourists who are unaware of Canadian laws are given tickets and that it hurts their business.

Not knowing what to expect during the process of receiving a ticket from a law officer, I felt that the police officer could have communicated and explained what she was doing.  She never said a word to us.  That communication would have given both my partner and I an opportunity to let her know that we were unaware of the requirement to wear a seat belt in a taxi cab as it had never been pointed out before, by either police officers at any other road block or by any taxi drivers over many years.  At the very least, a warning could have been given knowing that I did not know the law as well as she did.  Since the time of the ticket I have read up on the law and I understand that not being aware of the law is not an excuse; however, considering my exemplary driving record, a warning would have resulted in our wearing a seat belt in a cab from there on in and been an end to a very lovely evening in the town of Sidney.

Other then one speeding ticket in over 43 years of driving, I have never received a ticket and been a law abiding citizen. 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

Every Taxi in the GVRD has a

Every Taxi in the GVRD has a notice on the rear window that states the following:

" BUCKLE UP ITS THE LAW Passengers must wear seat belts"

I cannot speak for Victoria as I do not service any of those vehicles

Passengers are not required by law to wear a seatbelt on any vehicle with a seating capacity over 15.

Taxi drivers are also not required to wear a seat belt unless they enter and drive on a highway, passengers are not exempt from this rule. 

Not in BC

Taxi drivers must wear their seatbelt at any time when they are driving at a speed of 70 km/h or more.

Passengers must wear a seatbelt when they occupy a seating position that is equipped with one.

Reference?

Passengers are not required by law to wear a seatbelt on any vehicle with a seating capacity over 15.

Well I figured I knew all about this stuff, but that's a piece of the regulations I hadn't encountered before.

I'm always adamant about seatbelt use by passengers when I'm driving - and a lot of my work involves driving seniors, some in wheelchairs and/or of advanced age with memory problems, so I'll ensure that all are secured properly before I'll move the bus.

But sometimes I'll be doing orientation sessions with newly qualified Class 4 drivers, acquainting them with the particular skills needed to operate a 24-passenger size vehicle, rather than a 14-passenger overgrown van. When doing this, oftentimes I'll move around in the bus while it's being operated, checking clearances and so on, or hopping in and out to act as a spotter; so I'll be pleased to have a MVA reference, in the unlikely chance that some eagle-eyed cop might want to accost me!

Please advise, if you can identify that piece of the Act or Regs.

Answer

Well, I suppose that the bright side of this is that it will never form part of your driving record. The ticket was issued to you as a passenger (check that the appropriate choice is marked on the ticket) so it is not a driving infraction.

CompetentDrivingBC is alluding to the fact that in a collision, an unbelted passenger becomes a projectile that can seriously injure or kill other occupants in the vehicle as well as themselves. I've investigated collisions where this happened.

I can see nothing in your post that would suggest a defence to the charge. You were required by law to be wearing the seatbelt and were not. The officer chose to write a ticket for it and that is not an unexpected response, nor is it unreasonable.

Dispassionately, when you attend court you are there to force the Crown to prove the allegation or you are there to dispute the penalty. There are other more appropriate avenues to deal with any concerns that you may have over the way the officer conducted herself. This trial is not that place.

Warning or ticket, ticket or warning. That's a dilemma that every officer faces every day and we all deal with it in the way that we become comfortable with based on our experience. I too rarely warned for failing to wear a seatbelt, it was a protection that I felt strongly about. You have a different view and that's fine too.

As for the tourists you speak of, I could certainly be wrong, but I would bet that the majority of them come from a place where the use of seatbelts is mandatory too. If that is the case, I would not lose any sleep over them receiving a ticket. Should they come from a country where this is not the case and they genuinely did not know that they needed to wear one, then yes, a warning would be more appropriate.

The taxi driver bears some responsibility for this too. They have a duty to mention it, if for no other reason than their own safety. Sadly, if the cab is traveling less than 70 km/h the driver doesn't have to wear a seatbelt. This was short sighted of government to start with and is doubly dangerous today because air bags do very nasty things to unbelted vehicle occupants. It could result in the driver thinking that it is not important enough to worry about.

I suppose that I haven't been the help that you might have been hoping for. I'm sure that everyone would be interested in the outcome of your trial, so if you have time please drop back and let us know.

You'll be wasting the court's time trying to fight this.

Since the time of the ticket I have read up on the law and I understand that not being aware of the law is not an excuse; however, considering my exemplary driving record, a warning would have resulted in our wearing a seat belt in a cab from there on in and been an end to a very lovely evening in the town of Sidney.

I have been in many taxi cabs over the years and gone through road blocks and NOT ONCE been told I needed to wear my seat belt. 

To me, this suggests that it's your habit - if that's the right word - not to wear your seatbelt when you're a passenger in a taxi cab, for some reason. (What do you do when you're a passenger in other situations?)

Based on the driving ability of many taxi drivers these days, I think ... that you've been failing to take adequate precautions for your own safety, as well as other vehicle occupants.

The law is clear. And your own driving record is irrelevant. Take responsibility for your inactions, is my advice.

Thank you for your candid response

Thank you for your response.  I wear a seat belt in every other situation.  In fact, when I drive my own vehicle, I won't put the car into gear until everyone is buckled up.

Not sure about your comment of failing to take precautions for other vehicle occupants. 

It was more about not knowing I had to wear a seat belt in a taxi cab, and had I, I would have been wearing one.  I do see your point of safety.

I appreciate your time.

Candid are us, maybe.

Other vehicle occupants could well be injured by somebody being loose in a vehicle when there's a high-impact collision.

I note that your taxi appears to have been on a highway shortly before the stop-check: did the driver have his seatbelt on at that time? If not, you might ask the police officer in court why he didn't get a ticket as that's required; and it would seem stupid if he took it off on the exit ramp.

Meanwhile, it's possible that your best course of action might be to admit the offence, but fight the amount of the fine maybe, due to your lack of understanding of the way the law is written and applied. I think you'll find other information on this site about the differences, and ways to approach the situation.

 

 

Simulposting!

That's kind of funny, our site host just responded at the same time that I did, only he did so much more thoroughly.

Best of luck!

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