A week ago, an Ontario Provincial Police officer patrolling Highway 401 intercepted Carmen Velocci as she motored near Woodstock and charged the 63-year-old with careless driving.
It was alleged that the officer saw her “reading a book in plain sight to the officer while travelling at 100 kilometres per hour,” the OPP said in a press release the next day.
Her arrest was raised again this week after someone snapped a picture of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as he looked at some papers while behind the wheels of his Cadillac Escalade.
Toronto police, who have jurisdiction over the Gardiner Expressway, where the photo was taken, says there is no ground to charge Mr. Ford on a similar accusation.
A picture of the mayor at a specific moment, looking at a sheaf of papers, is not enough evidence, police and legal experts said.
Officers won’t consider a careless-driving charge unless there is “a pattern of behaviour” resulting in other transgressions, such as speeding, swerving into another lane or striking another vehicle, said Constable Clint Stibbe of the Toronto police traffic services division.
A photograph “standing alone” would be hard to justify the laying of a charge unless it is corroborated by witnesses attesting that the mayor failed to act with due care, said Laurence Cohen, a lawyer who has defended careless-driving cases.
“There has to be evidence that the accused failed to use the care and attention or to give to other persons using the highway the consideration that a driver of ordinary care would have used or given in the circumstance.”