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Yukon court overturns ticket, calls for changes to legal designation of weigh scale workers

Ticket for illegal left turn written by weigh scale worker found invalid
The Yukon Territorial Court overturned a traffic ticket against a commercial driver citing issues with the jurisdiction of the government employee who wrote it. (Jim Elliot/Yukon News files)

The Yukon Territorial Court dismissed a Motor Vehicle Act ticket written up for a transport truck driver, finding that the carrier compliance manager who wrote the ticket did not have the jurisdiction to do so.

The driver did not appear or send a lawyer on his behalf, but the court, presided over by Judge John Phelps, dismissed the ticket based on the definition of the word “officer” as written in the Yukon’s Motor Vehicles Act.

The court heard that the August 2022 incident began when the carrier compliance manager on duty at Whitehorse’s weigh scales spotted a commercial vehicle that he believed exceeded the weight required to stop.

The compliance manager and a colleague pursued and located the truck, confirmed its weight and directed the driver to return.

The court heard that on the way back to the scales, the driver of the transport truck made an illegal left turn back onto the Alaska Highway, crossing two lanes of traffic to make the turn. The manager issued the commercial driver a ticket with one offence under the Highway Regulations and one under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Judge Phelps found the driver guilty of the highway regulation charge for failure to report to the weigh scale, but found an issue with whether the compliance manager had the authority to issue the Motor Vehicle Act ticket for the illegal left turn.

The ambiguity stemmed from the definition of an officer in the act that applies the term to RCMP officers and to others appointed to enforce the act “including those persons employed in connection with the operation of weigh scales established pursuant to the Highways Act.

“It would be an absurd consequence, in my view, if all employees ‘employed in connection with the operation of weigh scales’, which could include administrative or other employees that do not have enforcement responsibilities, were considered to be officers for the purpose of enforcement,” Phelps wrote in his decision.

Phelps notes that there is a process set out in the Motor Vehicle Act to designate people as peace officers and a properly drafted order in council could appoint the correct weigh scale personnel as officers.

Because the compliance manager was not properly designated as an officer during the August 2022 traffic stop, the judge overturned the ticket.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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