Accused street racer regains license
A 19-year-old from Vancouver has regained the driver's licence he lost for allegedly racing his Ferrari against several other high-end sports cars during rush hour traffic on Highway 99 through Delta.
Cheng Jie Wang was stripped of his right to drive for two years after RCMP in White Rock and South Surrey intervened to halt what witnesses described as "highly aggressive" jousting last August by a pack of pricey cars that included Wang's 2007 Ferrari 599, as well as a Nissan GTR, two Lamborghini Gallardos, an Aston Martin DB9 and a Mercedes SLS.
The vehicles had an estimated combined value of nearly $3 million.
Surrey RCMP stopped six of the vehicles; White Rock officers stopped another seven along Johnston Road, at Russell and Roper Avenues.
The Sept. 19 letter from a police officer to the superintendent of motor vehicles seeking Wang's licence suspension said the cars "would take turns blocking traffic and slowing down to as much as 20-30 km/h in the posted 100 km/h zone so as to create a vacuum ahead, which when it reached a certain size would permit the two vehicles in the lead to suddenly accelerate in a short race."
One witness with racetrack experience estimated speed reached "easily over 200," the officer said.
He went on say that since the story hit the news, "the public has been in an uproar over the actions of these drivers" adding police "feel that a very strong message needs to be sent…"
The officer added that he was approached by several members of the public "asking why the drivers didn't seem to care and were seen laughing and acting as if what was happening was of no great concern."
The letter was filed after 13 cars were seized by police and their drivers were issued tickets for driving without consideration, an offence that carries a $196 fine.
Six of the 13 drivers cited did not have their full Class 5 licences and some were displaying novice-driver 'N' decals on their vehicles.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan ordered the reinstatement of Wang's drivers' licence in a written Jan. 24 decision posted online Monday (Jan. 30), saying the police and superintendent of motor vehicles acted prematurely.
The judge ruled that the police officer who ticketed Wang was relying on hearsay when he give the driver a ticket, and the superintendent was wrong to issue a driving ban based on that evidence.
There was no specific information tying any vehicle of any specific description or licence plate number to any specific act of irresponsible driving, the judge said.
"The incidents members of the public observed were obviously disturbing," McEwan writes.
"It is understandable that the officers and members of the public were unimpressed with the circumstances and the attitudes of those suspected of being involved. It is still the law, however, that we sanction people for what we can prove they have done, not for what we suspect they may have been a part of; nor do we substitute arbitrariness for due process because the public is in an 'uproar.' We have due process to ensure this does not happen.
"It was arbitrary, and completely unreasonable to issue a prohibition on the level of proof offered."
Wang has disputed his ticket, and cannot be considered guilty of the alleged street racing until a traffic court hearing before a "legally trained judicial justice of the peace" has decided the matter, the judge ruled.
That hearing is "some months away," McEwan notes.
A second driver in the group, Yim Kwan Kot, missed the deadline for filing his appeal by one day.
McEwan said he would have lifted Kot's suspension as well, if it were not for the missed deadline.
McEwan gave Kot 60 days to decide if he wants to formally ask the court to overlook the late filing and hear his case.
At least two other people are disputing lengthy driving bans awarded in connection with the Aug. 31 incident.
The lawyer for Dan Na Zhu and Zhuo Huang said his clients' rights were violated when the superintendent of motor vehicles suspended Zhu from driving for 20 months and Huang for 16 months.
“The superintendent had before him no information that would allow anybody to conclude fairly that either of those two individuals was involved in racing,” lawyer Russ Chamberlain said.
While police did not want to return any of the 13 seized vehicles, the Director of Civil Forfeiture filed a B.C. Supreme Court claim in September seeking to keep just five: a Nissan GTR, two Lamborghini Gallardos, an Aston Martin DB9 and a Mercedes SLS.
The legal action against the Aston Martin, owned by Zhu, was later dropped, and the vehicle was to be returned.
One of four other cars, a Lamborghini, was sold with the mutual consent of the owner, said Phil Tawtel, of B.C.'s Civil Forfeiture Office.