How fast is too fast?

Legal differences are subtle as motorcycles hit top speed

On July 2, 2011, Jason Alan Dery wound out his Ducati motorcycle on a road in Saanich, B.C., and was clocked going more than 200 km/h in a 60 km/h zone. An attempt by Saanich police to charge him with dangerous driving didn’t win approval from the provincial Crown Attorney’s office. And last week, Dery, who has amassed 39 motor vehicle offences and five 24-hour driving prohibitions since 1990, won a second victory: B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Bowden turned down an application by the provincial government to seize the motorcycle.

Less fortunate is Randy George Scott, who is accused by Saanich police of fixing a video camera to a Yamaha RI in April 2012, and of hitting 299 km/h while weaving through traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway. Video of the wild ride was posted on the Internet, where it went viral and prompted a police investigation. Police seized the bike, which was registered to Scott’s mother, and issued an arrest warrant for Scott, who was unlicensed, uninsured and had racked up 25 previous driving infractions. Scott turned himself in and was charged with dangerous driving. The case has yet to be heard, but the Yamaha was sold at auction, said Saanich police Sgt. Steve Eassie. “It was ruled to be an offence-related property that would have placed the public at risk if it was returned to Mr. Scott,” he said.

Eassie concedes there are differing circumstances in the two egregious speeding cases. The Yamaha video was self-incriminating. Dery, however, was driving on a straight, empty stretch of road, Bowden ruled. While Bowden didn’t condone the activity, he said prosecutors didn’t prove the bike was an “instrument of unlawful activity” that would have allowed its seizure under the Civil Forfeiture Act.

“It was an interesting decision,” said Eassie.

A decision on an appeal has yet to be made.