Sports car enthusiasts believe they're being unfairly targeted by Vancouver police
Published Monday, March 11, 2019 12:55PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, March 11, 2019 7:16PM PDT
Sports car enthusiasts in Vancouver are crying foul after receiving vehicle inspection notices, claiming they’re being harassed by police officers.
They say many who drive sports cars are being pulled over and given a vehicle inspection notice, which requires them to take their vehicle to a mechanic to address any safety concerns.
Eddie Clark, who drives a Fiat 124 Spider, was given one of these notices was told his exhaust was too loud and his car was too low.
“It’s bewildering being pulled over for a safety issue for a new car,” he said. “They told me that for my own safety, I needed to get my vehicle inspected.”
When he did bring it to a mechanic, his vehicle passed the inspection and he even got his car raised just to ensure he doesn’t get pulled over by police again.
Ironically, according to Clark, when the car was raised to one inch like the officers requested, it is now slightly out of the manufacturer’s specifications.
“There’s a threshold between a car enthusiast who mildly modifies their car and someone who just completely destroys a car and makes it unsafe for the road,” he said.
“Guys with stock Porsches are being stopped and given vehicle inspection notices. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Unlike other traffic tickets, such as a speeding ticket, a vehicle inspection notice cannot be disputed.
Clark paid $150 for the inspection and now he has no recourse.
“For some folks, it is a lot of money out of their pocket that they’re not going to get back. So it’s a slap in the face.”
A Vancouver traffic lawyer said he has received numerous calls from drivers about the sudden blitz.
“Pretty much any modification to your vehicle is subject to require an inspection,” explained Paul Doroshenko. “The circumstances of their vehicles are often sort of marginal; it’s the police officer’s subjective opinion of it.”
In order to challenge that officer’s opinion, it would cost the driver much more than getting an inspection.
“You’ve got to apply to the B.C. Supreme Court to appeal the decision of the officer who issued it. You’re not going to do that; it’s a $200 filing fee to get the thing started,” Doroshenko said.
The crackdown isn’t just an observation. According to the Vancouver Police Department’s own numbers, there has been a spike in overall inspection notices.
From 2013 to 2017, on average, the VPD gave out 555 notices and orders annually.
In 2018, that number rose to 1,050.
It was only in September 2018 that the number really started to pick up. The first quarter of the year saw 133 notices but in the last quarter, there were 485.
The VPD said it doesn’t want to speculate why the numbers have spiked.
It said the notice and order is a way for officers to keeping Vancouver roads safe.
“Our officers are dedicated to making our city roadways as safe as possible,” said Sgt. Jason Robillard.
“If our officers are noticing an increase in unsafe vehicles after education and enforcement efforts, then we may choose to issue a notice and order, ensuring that the unsafe vehicle is inspected by a licensed mechanic.”
CTV News has spoken to several other car enthusiasts, who expressed feeling powerless to the officers’ decision.
Lawyer Doroshenko suggests they can make a freedom of information request.
“If they get the police officer’s notes and the police officer can’t justify that notice and order, then it is the officer who’s got the problem because they’re subject to a complaint.”