Detecting the law
Should the rules be bent for tourists?

Kim Barraclough
Northern News Services

NNSL (July 19/99) - When Derek Sandilands of Calgary, Alta., rolled into the NWT last week on a business trip, he was not expecting trouble with the law.

In fact, he had no idea he was breaking the law.

Sandilands unsuspectingly cruised by the bylaw office in Yellowknife with his radar detector, which is legal in Alberta, in the front window of his car. He was pulled over and asked to hand over the detector because it is illegal in the NWT.

The officer told Sandilands he would not get the detector back when he left the territories.

Sandilands pleaded that he was a tourist and had not heard of the law nor seen any signs up about it.

The officer saw this as no excuse.

"Why would you guys (the legal powers that be) do this to a tourist on his first day in town?" Sandilands wants to know.

"It's not like I brought it up here so I could speed."

Sandilands decided to go to court to try and get the $500 radar detector back and have the $86 charge for having it in his possession dropped.

"All I want is the (detector) back," said Sandilands.

Sandilands claims that it is unfair that there are no signs up informing visitors about the law, as there are about seatbelt safety and headlights.

There is one sign about the radar detector law at the boarder and if you miss it, too bad, said Gary Walsh, deputy registrar of motor vehicles for the Department of Transportation.

"There's an obligation for that person to check that (the device) is legal."

He said Sandilands should have done further research about NWT's traffic laws prior to coming North.

There is a book put out by the Alberta Motor Association every year that lists the different transportation laws for each province. The NWT's radar law is included in the book.

The court saw the issue in the same light, did not give the detector back and went ahead to charge the man the $86 fine.