Special Report: Braking Point
Published Thursday, November 18, 2010 6:56PM EST
Two years ago the automobile insurance board raised the cost of speeding tickets in a bid to get drivers to slow down.
Police say it's been effective, but some drivers think it's just a new way to gouge taxpayers.
The worst offenders often take their battles over mega-tickets to court.
In the courthouse, Rob Lurie had no trouble finding drivers who had been issued tickets for more than $1,000 for going more than 50 km/h over the limit.
Going 40 kilometers over the speed limit now costs a minimum of $500.
In one case, a driver was fined $1,847 and issued 30 demerit points for going 173 km/h in a 50 km/h zone in Ste. Anne des Plaines.
Plans to fight fine
Lawyer Eric Lamontagne knows most of the public feels no sympathy for his client, but he does think the fine is too expensive, and he plans to fight it.
"If that guy would have been stopped at the same speed and the same offense with a photo radar, he wouldn't have 30 points, he wouldn't have any points at all," said Lamontagne.
Quebec isn't the only place putting the squeeze on speeders. In Ontario, 50 km above the speed limit means a ticket between $2 and $10,000.
That's nothing compared to parts of Europe where the size of the ticket depends on the size of your paycheque.
In Switzerland a Ferrari driver was hit with a fine of more than $250,000 for going 56 kilometers above the limit.
That's about the same price as his car.
Police frequently hear complaints that the fines are gouging, but they insist fines are only levied to get people to slow down.
And along with higher fines there are now more officers on traffic duty.
Police say hefty fines are working
Stephane Lemieux is the Chief Inspector, Road Safety Division of the Montreal police department, and he says the hefty fines are working.
In 2010, police have given out 600 fewer high speed tickets than in 2009.
"Since 2006, we have ten deaths less by years because we are more efficient for speed," said Lemieux.
Northeast of Montreal, Simon Thuot says the fines have not worked.
He lives on a country road in St. Jacques de Montcalm. The speed limit is 70 km/h.
Thuot got so fed up with speeders he bought his own radar gun and started keeping track of dangerous drivers.
The fastest he's caught anyone going?
"159 (km/h) and the road was not as nice as this. The road was just redone about a month ago," said Thuot.
He took the data to his MNA and asked to have the speed limit enforced.
"They said they're going to ask the Surete du Quebec ... to do a survey."
But until the SQ sets up a speed trap like his, he's hoping some of these drivers will get a mega ticket and finally slow down.
"If people pay for something they'll remember, so we even put that on our license plate," said Thuot.
But 'Je me souviens' can have a much more tragic meaning, and Nicola Di Iorio knows all too well.
In July, his 16-year-old daughter Claudia was in a car with an 18-year-old driver who was racing on Graham Blvd. in the Town of Mount Royal.
The driver lost control and slammed into a tree.
Di Iorio says the call from the hospital was horrific.
"He says 'sir can you come right away,' and he says 'I can't tell you anything on the phone you have to come here right away sir, as soon as you can come as fast you can,' and I couldn't move, I tried to move my legs and I just could not do it."
Police told him the car was going 125 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.
Two other girls in the car were seriously injured, while Claudia suffered a severe brain injury.
"She was in a coma for three weeks," said Di Iorio.
However he thinks handing out large tickets will only go so far, and thinks to make the roads safer takes more than a radar gun.
"If you're a passenger in a vehicle, in a vehicle who's doing that, you have to let the driver know in a very clear way know that you are not accepting that, and it has to stop."