Can You Hear Me Now?

June 12 2012

A motorcyclist in British Columbia is claiming that he was arbitrarily targeted by police when he was issued a ticket for excessive noise while riding his Harley-Davidson V-Rod.

Ian Tootill, who was ticketed by Vancouver Police Constable John Bercic in 2009, is currently appealing a 2010 Traffic Court decision that had originally upheld the fine. Tootill maintains that Bercic used a personal sound meter to test the noise level of his motorcycle’s exhaust. During the appeal process it was revealed that in 2008 Bercic had written more noise citations than any other officer in his department.

Crown attorney Elizabeth Wolfram was quoted as having said that “the officer’s professional expertise gives him the ability to determine whether a motorcycle is unnecessarily loud.” During her rebuttal of Tootill’s claims, Wolfram argued that Bercic used a “subjective standard” that is accepted by law, and consequently the fine was justified. The Crown also pointed out that Screamin’ Eagle exhaust system fitted to the V-Rod isn’t recommended for street use by Harley-Davidson because of the excessive noise it produces.

“I don’t ride like an idiot and I hate people who do,” Tootill reportedly said during an interview. “I’m doing this because of my Scottish heritage. I’m stubborn.”

In his personal Twitter feed, Tootill observed “the problem is that when you give police discretion based on common sense, sometimes there is neither.”

Tootill has made public his dissatisfaction with the local media’s handling of the story, claiming that they didn’t get the point. Specifically, he described The Province’s editorial coverage of his appeal as a “cheap exploitation of a widespread hatred of motorcyclists.”

Having taken all the arguments into consideration, B.C. Justice Miriam Gropper has yet to reach a decision regarding Tootill case.


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