Quebec scales way back on photo radar speeding tickets
The number of speeding tickets issued by photo radar has dropped drastically over the past year.
Speeding drivers have received 10 times fewer tickets than in previous years.
Since 2009, the Quebec government has given out about 126,000 photo radar fines on average per year, each at a cost of $500.
In 2017, however, only slightly more than 10,000 photo radar tickets were issued.
While it may be good news for drivers who were off the hook, it cost the government about $15.5 million per year.
Two examples include Highway 20 east in Pincourt, where the photo radar took in $8 million since 2009, but last year took in only $5,000, and Highway 15 south near Atwater Ave., which didn’t register a single infraction in 2017.
The drop in ticketing could be due to a Quebec court decision in late 2016 that rejected evidence obtained from a photo radar machine.
In that case, the judge ruled that since police didn't personally witness the woman breaking the law or check to see if the radar machine was functioning properly, the evidence against her amount to hearsay.
The Crown did not appeal the ruling.
Eric Lamontagne, a lawyer with law firm SOS Ticket that specializes in traffic infractions, said the transport ministry will likely have to hire more employees to calibrate the radars or change the law, in order to make up for lost revenue.
"They know they're losing money, but there's a problem to be solved," he said.
Lamontagne said he believes the government's best solution may be to hire more patrollers.
"Once you're stopped by a police officer, you have a tendency to remember it way more than if you're flashed by a photo radar," he said. "But they invested so much money in all that photo radar, I think it's there to stay."
Transport Quebec spokesperson Martin Girard said the ruling has affected the criteria for giving out tickets due to infractions caught by photo radar, but warned drivers that it isn't a carte blanche to break the law in photo radar areas.
"Photo radars are not closed, they're still functioning, but less tickets are given to drivers," he said. "When they see signs there is a photo radar, it is functioning. They should respect the speed limit in the area."
Lawyer Joey Zukran is hoping to proceed with a class-action lawsuit against Quebec’s photo radar system that could involve hundreds of thousands of people.
Zukran is speculating that the government is scaling back on the ticketing system due to the court ruling.
“Something was seriously wrong with the way they’ve been issuing tickets to date,” he said.