TORONTO -- A significant speed limiter case that could decide whether the Ministry of Transportation should incur responsibility for engine computer damage during compliance checks has been set for this coming fall.
On Monday, an Ontario Appeals Court judge in St. Catherines ordered a new trial, likely set for September or early October.
The MTO was appealing a previous ruling by a traffic court judge who threw out speed limiter charges against owner-op Lee Ingratta.
As first reported by Today's Trucking, the Gravenhurst, Ont. driver -- who says he was in compliance with the law's stated maximum setting of 105 km/h at the time -- refused to allow MTO inspectors to plug in the Ez-Tap scanner unless the officer first signed a waiver assuming responsibility in the event of damages to the engine.
The officer refused and fined Ingratta for not submitting to a compliance check, which is still a violation under the Highway Traffic Act.
(Ingratta, a self-described computer expert, as well as others in the industry claim that the device the ministry uses to gauge compliance can transmit static charges to truck ECMs and even upload viruses. The MTO won't comment on the ongoing case or others like it, but it has not refuted the reported problems).
Lee's liability waiver form that started it all
The traffic judge apparently shared some of those concerns and dismissed the ticket.
Arguing that the traffic court judge "erred" in his judgment (MTO says he should have followed the law as it's written regardless of Ingratta's reasoning), the MTO asked the Appeals Court to either overturn the first decision and find Ingratta guilty or order a new trial. He chose the latter option, giving both the MTO and Ingratta another chance to make their cases.
Despite having already beaten the government once, Ingratta says he isn't at all upset with giving the MTO another shot at him.
"As far as the appeal is concerned, the MTO hasn't won anything," Ingratta tells todaystrucking.com this morning from his truck. "I have a lot more to say too."
He says he's looking forward to calling witnesses – other truckers and diesel technicians – who will testify that the device could damage truck engines and is known to improperly read settings on certain models.
"Knowing I have a new trial and I have more under my belt now to win this case is a good thing," he says. I don't want it left in Limbo anymore. I feel by doing this that in the long run it's going to get rid of this law for good."
Ingratta and his attorney are seeking information from truckers and mechanics about any problems to equipment experienced during speed-limiter inspections.
Ingratta says he has spent over $10,000 out-of-pocket fighting the charges. The Owner-operators Business Association of Canada (OBAC), of which he's a member, has set up a legal defense fund on its website for Ingratta and other truckers who challenge the speed limiter law.
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