As the dirty old Integra tried to nudge its way into the drive-thru lineup in front of him, Christopher Smith did what any Tim Hortons customer might: Lowered his window to tell the driver he was in line first.
A short time later, Smith found himself cut off and stopped on the highway as the the driver of the Integra smashed his window, door and headlight with a sledge hammer.
Police never did learn who the driver was. But they did manage to find the vehicle’s owner: Crystalina Jeanelle David.
And this week, a B.C. provincial court judge fined the Vancouver Island woman for driving without due care and attention even though she may not have been in the car at the time of the incident.
“This case is somewhat unusual in that Ms. David is charged as the registered owner of the vehicle involved in two related road rage incidents,” Judicial Justice Brenda Edwards noted in her decision.
“The Crown does not allege that she was the driver of the vehicle.”
Owner of car ‘must be held liable’
The ruling is part of a mystery that saw RCMP reach out to the public in November 2013 to find the irate, scruffy hoodie-wearer who bumped Smiths’ pickup in the drive-thru in Mill Bay, B.C., and then pursued him along the TransCanada.
It’s also a glimpse into Motor Vehicle Act rules which say the owner of a car “must be held liable for any contravention” involving their vehicle.
The only exceptions are if the car was stolen or if they exercised “reasonable care and diligence” when they entrusted the car to someone else.
Smith was too shaken to get a licence plate at the time of the incident. But an eagle-eyed motorist saw the whole thing.
Dorothy Eis made a mental note of the licence plate number and wrote it down on the back of a receipt. Eis called the police after seeing a public plea for information in the newspaper.
She subsequently burned the slip of paper “believing that she had ‘done my job’ ” and nothing more would be required.
Police tracked the car, an early 1990s Integra, to David, but weren’t able to make contact with the 24-year-old until March 2014, despite leaving messages on her cell phone and with her parents
‘No one else ever drove the vehicle’
At trial, David “testified definitively that no one else ever drove the vehicle and that she did not lend it to anyone and never had the keys out of her possession.”
But she did note that at the time of the alleged road rage incidents, “she had a boyfriend who she described only as ‘clean shaven’ with short hair. She said that he did not wear hoodies.”
Edwards said she accepted Smith’s description of a traumatic attack. And Eis was unshaken in her faith that she had recorded the licence plate correctly.
“I have more difficulty in accepting the testimony of Ms. David,” Edwards wrote.
It turned out that while she said she never loaned the car out, David’s parents had driven it before. She admitted she couldn’t say if they or someone else had driven the vehicle on the day in question.
And Edwards said David’s contention she didn’t get any of the messages police left for her “defies credibility.”
Having established that David’s car was involved in the incident and had not been stolen, Edwards found that David was guilty of two of the three Motor Vehicle Acts committed: Driving without due care and attention; and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
David was fined a total of $736.