Crown tosses seatbelt ticket for Saskatchewan driver with no arms

SASKATOON – A seatbelt ticket given to a Saskatchewan driver with no arms has been tossed out of court.

Brent Little, a lawyer representing Steve Simonar, says the Saskatoon prosecutor’s office withdrew the $175 ticket after the province granted Simonar an exemption that allows him to drive without a belt.

Simonar, a 55-year-old business man, has been driving modified vehicles using his feet since he lost both of his arms in 1985. He was pulling a boat off Big Shell Lake when its mast hit a power line and he was electrocuted. His friend died in the accident.

Simonar has said surprised officers who pulled him over in the past usually let him off with “have a nice day.”

“Nobody ever gave me a seatbelt ticket because, you know, I can’t wear one. I can’t put it on,” he said.

He was hurt and angry when a city constable handed him his first ticket during a traffic blitz in April. Simonar said the officer was abrupt and told him if he couldn’t wear a seatbelt, he shouldn’t be driving.

At the time, police spokeswoman Alyson Edwards said the officer had no choice — Simonar didn’t have a medical exemption, so he had to get a ticket.

“We had to issue a ticket to someone who we really didn’t want to issue a ticket to … but we can’t just simply look away and say, ‘Drive on.”’

Simonar said he used to carry a doctor’s note and didn’t know the rules had changed requiring him to apply to Saskatchewan Government Insurance for a written exemption. He applied for one soon after he got the ticket.

He also sat down with the constable and his supervisor and demanded they rip up the ticket and apologize. They refused and Simonar left the meeting even more angry.

He has since filed a complaint against the police with the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission. The commission says it takes at least six months to process a grievance.

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