As far as important police work is concerned, moving violations always seem like the least-crucial activity for law enforcement to spend time on. That’s primarily because you never see them enforcing tailgating laws but they’re Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to catching speeders — which research always seems on the fence about in terms of the actual public peril it presents.
Realistically, any major disparities between vehicle speeds on a roadway presents some added risk of collision. But, last Friday, a Canadian motorist discovered you don’t have to be going all that quick to get a ticket. Mathieu Gagne was cruising behind a slow-moving police vehicle on a two-lane road in Alberta, Canada, and decided to pass. He was immediately pulled over and issued a citation for driving less than 1 mile an hour over the posted limit.
“I had the right of way, the dotted line, and there was nobody in front of me, so I decided it was alright, in my right, to pass the peace officer,” Gagne explained to CTV Edmonton.
While society’s adoption of the euphemism of “peace officer” is slightly bewildering, especially when “law enforcement official” is more applicable (it’s like calling a garbageman a “cleanliness arbiter” instead of a “sanitation worker”), the reason for Gagne’s roadside stop was not.
Stating that he was well within his rights to pass the slower-moving traffic, the driver said he was immediately confronted with flashing lights. When the officer approached his stopped Jeep, Gagne said the first words out of his mouth were, “That was pretty ballsy of you.”
“The next thing he said was, it was disrespectful. I was disrespecting him,” he said.
Gagne explained he argued that he had passed safely, but was issued a $78 citation for driving his Jeep 101 kilometers per hour in a 100 km/h zone anyway. “Send a message, but that’s the wrong message,” he said. “This is a speeding ticket. It’s demerits. That goes on my record. It goes on my insurance. My insurance goes up.”
His girlfriend, Larissa Turnbull, used social media to gripe about the event over the weekend — uploading a photo of the ticket in question and gaining plenty of public support. By Monday the posting had been shared thousands of times. Turnbull later updated it to indicate the county had rescinded the ticket.
“Upon further review, they did only estimate the driver’s speed and they did not record or measure it on a radar and laser as they indicated on the ticket,” Sturgeon County spokesperson Gwen Wolansky said.
Gagne said he was pleased not to have to deal with the ordeal behind him but expressed some remaining frustrations. “This kind of stuff shouldn’t happen,” he said.
According to Wolansky, the officer who issued the ticket is not facing any punitive action for “the error.”