Supreme Court rules against speeder in dangerous-driving case

Supreme Court rules against speeder in dangerous-driving case

OTTAWA — A reasonable person should foresee the risk of driving almost three times the speed limit towards a major city intersection, the Supreme Court of Canada says in upholding a man’s conviction.

The 4-1 decision came Friday in the case of Ken Chung, whose silver Audi hit another car in Vancouver in November 2015, killing the driver.

Chung, who was driving at 140-kilometres-an-hour in a 50-kilometre-an-hour zone, was acquitted at trial of dangerous driving causing death.

Over the span of a block, Chung had moved in to the curbside lane, passed at least one car and accelerated quickly before entering the intersection. The trial judge found Chung was neither inattentive nor driving dangerously prior to this one-block span.

The judge ruled Chung’s speeding was only momentary and therefore amounted to a lapse of judgment rather than a significant departure from the standard of a reasonably prudent driver.

British Columbia’s appeal court overturned the decision and entered a conviction, prompting Chung to take his case to the Supreme Court.

In its decision Friday, the high court said the trial judge’s fixation on the momentary nature of the speeding was an error of law.

In writing for the majority, Justice Sheilah Martin said Chung’s actions were not comparable to momentary mistakes that might be made by any reasonable driver, such as a mistimed turn on to a highway or the sudden loss of awareness or control.

“A reasonable person would have foreseen the immediate risk of reaching a speed of almost three times the speed limit while accelerating towards a major city intersection,” she wrote. “Mr. Chung’s conduct in these circumstances is a marked departure from the norm.”

Driving is an inherently risky activity that is made all the more risky “the faster we drive, the harder we accelerate, and the more aggressively we navigate traffic,” she said. “Although even careful driving can result in tragic consequences, some conduct is so dangerous that it deserves criminal sanctions.”

However, Martin cautioned against adopting “hard and fast rules” on actions.

It is conceivable that in some cases even grossly excessive speed may not be a notable departure from the standard of care, she wrote.

“Only when there has been an active engagement with the full picture of what occurred can the trial judge determine whether the accused’s conduct was a marked departure from the conduct of a reasonable and prudent driver.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2020.

—Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Supreme Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Every Albertan eligible for COVID-19 testing

22 new cases confirmed on Friday

Alberta-registered truck elicits a note of kindness in British Columbia

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Red Deer’s small fitness facilities limbering up for reopening

Al Parada has done everything in his power to stay busy. But… Continue reading

COVID-19 leaving its mark on office designs

Office designs encouraging more physical distancing could become the norm

WATCH: Central Albertans applaud efforts of Golden Circle staff, volunteers

Central Albertans thanked the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre’s staff and volunteers… Continue reading

Police need more than an unverified tip to avoid drug-case entrapment: top court

Police need more than an unverified tip to avoid drug-case entrapment: top court

N.S. police received warnings in 2011 about man who would become mass killer

N.S. police received warnings in 2011 about man who would become mass killer

Want a mask with your Big Mac? Alberta handing out masks at drive-thrus

Want a mask with your Big Mac? Alberta handing out masks at drive-thrus

Another $650M in COVID-19 aid bound for Indigenous communities, Miller says

Another $650M in COVID-19 aid bound for Indigenous communities, Miller says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Canada exploring ways to reunite families divided by COVID-19 border closure

Canada exploring ways to reunite families divided by COVID-19 border closure

More COVID-19 tests, masks announced in some provinces as economy flails

More COVID-19 tests, masks announced in some provinces as economy flails

Students decry tuition hikes as COVID-19 pandemic increases financial strain

Students decry tuition hikes as COVID-19 pandemic increases financial strain

Most Read