At about 12:40 am on Tuesday, July 4th, a West Vancouver police patrol officer heard the engine roaring before seeing a white Ferrari cresting the curve of the Lions Gate Bridge at high speed. The officer ‘clocked’ the speed at 210 kmh—the limit is 60 kmh, and then managed to apprehend the driver, a 22-year-old West Vancouver resident, at the north end.
When the officer determined he had apprehended the same driver in April for driving 130 kmh on the bridge, rather than ticketing him, he issued a summons for him to appear in court in September 2017 on charges of excessive speeding and driving without due care and attention. He also impounded the Ferrari for seven days.
The story was an instant headliner, widely reported. Subsequent detailing kept it newsworthy for days. We learned this was the fourth apprehension of the driver for excessive speeding, and that the 2015 Ferrari 458 he was driving has a top speed of 320 kmh and, depending on options, is valued between $300,000 and $700,000.
From the police we learned that driving on the bridge at that speed, “You have no way of knowing whether there are other vehicles on the bridge deck ahead of you, you have no time to react.” The potential for tragedy —“just through the roof.”
And we were reminded of the BC Motor Vehicle Act rules regarding excessive speeding: a fine of $483 for exceeding the speed limit by more than 60 kmh, a penalty of $368 for driving without due care, and the upscaling of impoundment times and costs for repetition of the offense within a two-year period.
Reactions on radio call-in shows and in online comments sections were quick to mock these as completely inadequate. Since first reported, however, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles has extended the impoundment to 60 days, and the driver has been served with an official notice of a one-year driving prohibition.
And the media is now saying the police have reported a formal recommendation of criminal charges to the Crown.
Another noteworthy follow-up has been the apprehension for excessive speeding of a Smart Car going 139 km/h on the Lions Gate Bridge at 3:40 am on Wednesday, July 12th raising the number of excessive speeding infractions handed out by West Vancouver police this year to 96.
The police have also pointed out this number includes everything on the Smart Car/Ferrari ‘spectrum’ “…motorcycles, …large pickup trucks and people traveling in mid-1990s Acuras. It’s a very broad range of vehicles.”
Since this story clearly questions the effectiveness of the current rules to deter such behavior, a local radio show invited callers to propose alternatives.
No surprise, Vancouverites had all sorts of creative suggestions. Community service ideas ran the gamut from 500 hours assisting in the morgue to 1,000 hours as a school crossing guard.
One caller suggested donating the car to charity and having the driver provide a late-night bicycle taxi service for homeless people on the DTES.
A proportionate fine based on the car’s value was a common suggestion although many thought the possible distinction between ownership and usage might target the wrong person.
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