Prosecutor: Crown is pursuing county and city racing charges

Recent information provided by local police concerning racing charges in the county is inaccurate, according to the area’s provincial prosecutor.

Paul Dray, of the Guelph Crown Attorney’s Office, handles the racing charges for Guelph and Wellington Coun­ty.

He said a quote in last week’s Advertiser stating that local courts are having “zero success” in convicting those charged with travelling 50km/h over the speed limit is untrue.

“I don’t know of anybody who’s beaten [a racing charge],” he said. “I have not had one trial – it’s a pretty tough charge to fight.”

And while “a few” charges have been adjourned to the fall, Dray said it is also untrue that all county racing charges have been delayed, as stated by police officials in last week’s article.

“We’re opposing any ad­journments at the moment,” he added. “Our instructions are to treat these charges very seriously, and they are serious.”

Dray explained things might change if there is a legitimate appeal filed with the Attorney General’s office, but unless or until that happens, it is business as usual for the provincial prosecutor.

When asked to comment on the 30 per cent provincial conviction rate for racing charges mentioned in last week’s Ad­vertiser, Dray said that figure is likely accurate locally as well.

But, he added, it is more the result of Crown decisions than anyone fighting the legislation. He explained that police will often lay both a racing and a speeding charge, giving the crown the option of going with one or the other, depending on the severity and circumstances of the infraction.

“Every case is different, and every one’s looked at differently,” he said. “They’re going to lose six points either way, but the racing charge means a higher fine.”

Dray said he has heard about complaints that the racing charges are unfair because they provide an immediate penalty – licence suspension and vehicle impoundment – before individuals are proven guilty in court.

However, he said there have not been any local defences under the auspices of the Char­ter of Rights and Freedoms.