Truck News


Revenue Canada’s price tag for lunch, and other unsettling issues

OK, time for some follow-up and then question and answers.First, the follow-up. Not surprisingly, I had several calls from surprised and somewhat angry drivers regarding federal government per-diem me...

OK, time for some follow-up and then question and answers.

First, the follow-up. Not surprisingly, I had several calls from surprised and somewhat angry drivers regarding federal government per-diem meal allowances versus what every other peon is accorded under Rev-Can rules with respect to deduction of “business and entertainment expenses.” The per-diem rates for federal government employees, without receipts, is $59.40 per day, broken out as follows: breakfast $10.00; lunch $10.30; dinner $27.60; incidental $11.50. Total: $59.40

So chew on that the next time you’re at the truck stop having a burg and fries.

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In last month’s column I wrote about a new Ontario Ministry of Transportation policy on “personal use” of a truck and how the ministry now sees all driving time as on-duty time. I noted that while the regular “operator” can relieve the driver of responsibility – for hours-of-work purposes in accordance with the regulation – the driver would be required to have his own CVOR when driving (but relieved of responsibility by his operator).

In other words, when driving a commercial motor vehicle, the time must be recorded as on-duty driving, according to the revised policy.

This wasn’t my suggestion; it was the ministry’s.

I have long been an advocate of “personal CVORs,” taking the approach that – when a one-truck operator is involved – it won’t take much in terms of convictions and so on to put him or her over the magical sanction thresholds.

While his, or her, pockets might not be as deep as the 100-truck operator, the responsibility at the driver level would increase. I liken it to the way a rented car is often treated, versus one that is owned by the driver. In other words, concern for CVOR points – due to infractions, accidents, or the like – is likely to heighten awareness.

Now the question and answers.

Q: We are a carrier with operations across Ontario, and as such, receive citations all over the place. As we defend almost every ticket received, we’ve noticed wide disparities from one court to the other in fines for convictions for the same offence. Don’t they have standards or guidelines of some sort?

A: Not that I’m aware of.

I am intrigued with sentencing disparities across the province. There are sentencing guidelines in place at the federal level – pertaining to criminal law – to ensure that defendants, where circumstances are similar, get handed comparable sentences when convicted of an offence.

At the provincial level, I am aware of numerous instances, particularly for unsafe-vehicle charges, where circumstances and records are similar but where fines have widely varied – by hundreds of dollars – depending on the court location.

I’d suggest that a well-documented record of similar cases, with convictions registered and fines imposed, would work well when speaking to what an appropriate sentence or fine should be. While courts are not bound to follow lockstep with one another, they would be hard-pressed to ignore any widespread differences in fines.

Q: One of my owner/operators was convicted on a brake charge as the result of a vehicle inspection and given a $500 fine. He has a clean driving record and this is the only conviction he has had. Contrast this with a neighbour, who, last year, was involved in a serious car accident that left him with significant injuries. The other driver was convicted of “fail to yield” and was given a fine of around $100. A bit out of whack, wouldn’t you agree?

A: Yes I sure would. Fines associated with trucks tend to be very high. Many are in the $400-$500 range for the roadside ticket (Part 1 offence notice) and potentially much higher when you get into the summonses – $20,000 maximum for many.

I have jokingly suggested on occasion that perhaps a plea arrangement be made whereby the unsafe-vehicle charge is withdrawn and a criminal conviction for perhaps theft or assault be substituted instead. The penalties for criminal convictions are often lower.

Q: Some time back you noted that a conviction for impaired driving would not prevent entry to the U.S. I have a conviction from eight years ago and I was denied entry recently, even though I have entered the States countless times over the years.

A: I suspect you faced the whim of a grumpy U.S. immigration officer.

Their rules on denying entry differ from Canada’s. The crimes that they consider to prevent entry are ones they term “crimes of moral turpitude.” I have asked several immigration officers over the years about whether an impaired or .08 conviction would prevent entry, and the answer has always been “no.” You might want to ask an officer at a port of entry how to prevent future exclusions.

A word of caution – now that you were denied, clear up this problem before you try to enter again. You can bet they have your name in their computer system. n

— Blair Gough is a consultant to the trucking industry and can be reached at 905-689-2727.

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