Lawyer warns of occasional ‘abusive’ curfew ticketing by Montreal police

MONTREAL (CityNews) – A week after the nationwide curfew in Quebec, there have been a handful of cases of police imposing the rules on an “abusive” level, says a Montreal attorney.

Attorney Avi Levy, founder of Ticket 911, says the police need to be more flexible and understanding when it comes to handing out tickets between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. – Quebec’s curfew for at least another three weeks.

Levy pointed out a few examples of key employees being properly documented for being out after 8 p.m.

“I don’t think that was the intent or spirit of the curfew law,” Levy said. “And hopefully, because it’s new, there might be an adjustment phase in which the cops adapt to the situation.”

Last week, shortly after leaving her home at 4 a.m., Sarah Vresk was stopped by police officers to go to work. Vresk, who works in snow removal, is an essential worker.

Vresk showed the officers her certification document provided by her employer, but that was not enough. The police asked to know what was in their lunch box and threatened a curfew if they didn’t do it.

“We went back and forth like ‘open the bag’ and ‘I don’t have to open the bag,'” said Vresk. “And he suggested I make things difficult and I said, ‘Well, you got my letter from my employer, isn’t that enough?’ And he said, “It’s just a piece of paper. What if I don’t believe you? “And he said,” I could drag you over there, take you around the corner and write you the ticket, and you can explain this to your employer.

“He sort of equated me with opening the bag because I didn’t get the ticket, and it was a threat to me that if I didn’t, he would give me the ticket.”

#WATCH Sarah Vresk is an important worker. She leaves her home at 4 a.m. to work in snow removal.
Since Quebec was under curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. every day, she had to show her employee ID when she was stopped by the police for not being there after hours. #curfew

– CityNews Montreal (@CityNewsMTL) January 16, 2021

Vresk finally gave in and showed the officer the contents of her bag. She was not punished.

Levy says it’s the perfect example of the police taking things too far.

“It seems a bit abusive,” he said. “The policeman shouldn’t have threatened to give her a ticket if she doesn’t show what’s in lunch. As soon as he realized she was right to go to work, he should have just let her go and said, ‘Have a nice day. ‘“

In another instance of what Levy found exaggerated, the lawyer told the story of a woman who was followed to her home by a police officer from her school library. The officer allegedly waited at 7:59 p.m. – one minute before the curfew started – to pull her for speeding and inform her that she was out after the curfew.

Montreal police say they have imposed around 185 curfew-related fines since the measure was introduced last week.

In a statement to CityNews, SPVM simply said: “Anyone who is absent or circulating after curfew must have a valid reason and provide evidence of their reason for travel. You must also give a satisfactory answer to the official’s questions. “

Levy warns that police operations may continue during the curfew. Though he believes many of the tickets recently issued will be challenged.

“Once the ticket is issued, it won’t be canceled. The only way to deal with it is to go to court and take it to court,” he said. “I think if a lot of these tickets are awarded, some of them will be contested and hopefully with success.”

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