Contact Joel at:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416 909 0620
LinkedIn: Joel LaCoursiere
Keeping it Safety Dawg Simple!
Joel Lacoursiere (0s):
Many courts have what's called early resolution, which is option number two in a lot of cases. And it's a chance to speak to a prosecutor before a matter set for trial. And it allows several things to her.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (13s):
Many courts have early resolution who knew that was Joel paralegal, extraordinary. He's my guest this week on the Dawg On-It Trucking Pawedcast. Let's get on with the show. Welcome to theDawg On-It Trucking Pawedcast. When it comes to trucking safety, the dawg is on it. What did we do on this show? I get to talk to some of the most influential trucking executives in our industry so that we can pick up new tips and tricks to use in our everyday businesses.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (55s):
So we'll get back. Let's get on with the show. Hey Joel, welcome to the Dawg On-It Trucking Pawedcast. How in the heck are ya
Joel Lacoursiere (1m 3s):
Mr. Chris Harris? I'm doing well this morning. I can't thank you enough for having me.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 7s):
Hey, it's my pleasure. And I love getting paralegals on the show because some people don't seem to understand how the heck our, sorry, how important it is to reduce their convictions on their Seaview are. But before we get into all that, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I mean, I know that I, at least, I think you were a officer with the Windsor police department.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 39s):
Were you not?
Joel Lacoursiere (1m 40s):
That is correct. My friend, I was a police officer for a total of 11 years and seven of those was with Windsor police and four of them were the Orangeville police department and they were both municipal police services. And after the what, the eight year Mark my career, not perhaps in the ninth year, I decided to go back to school to get my paralegal ticket part time. And that was back in 2010. When I started that I completed in 2012. And ever since then, I've been in the court system pretty well on a full time basis.
Joel Lacoursiere (2m 10s):
And I specialize predominantly about 75% of my businesses for carriers. I have some specialty training background with reconstructive services in terms of piecing back together, a collision. And some of the other courses that I took with the Ontario police college and through Windsor police and Orangeville police led quite well and beneficially to defendant carriers and clients alike.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (2m 35s):
Didn't you also tell me that you are or aware when you were a police officer, you were CVSA certified.
Joel Lacoursiere (2m 43s):
I I'm not fully CDSA certified. However, in Windsor, as you can imagine, the, we have an absolute pile of trucking traffic that we had on a regular basis through the NAFTA pipeline and the flow of a regular transport trucks, what was consistent. So any enforcement you did half the time was going to involve anything to do with CDR program. And some of the courses that I took along the way were beneficial in that, but CDSA certifications its own designation, which came out a little bit later than my place in career.
Joel Lacoursiere (3m 16s):
However, some of the precursory courses I do have along the way that's been beneficial.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (3m 21s):
Okay. And just for our viewers and listeners, CVSA is commercial vehicle safety Alliance and it operates in three countries, Mexico, United States and Canada. So that's what I was referring to, but you've had commercial courses, have you not in the, in the way of talking in enforcement,
Joel Lacoursiere (3m 43s):
This is somewhat some of the, the, the carriers that I look after. I've been very fortunate and asking me to take partake in some of the courses that they have through the Ontario safety league. So I do have some break courses that I've taken. And some of the other courses that I took prior to that were, you can only get them through enforcement agencies, which is the Ontario police college and reconstructions for our training was one of those designations that I have. That's been quite beneficial when it comes to collisions, et cetera. And the program has really taken off in the last, obviously with the last five years, with the advent of ELD, et cetera, the need for, I think a paralegal with some skillset that my previous career has only served me well and my clients as well.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (4m 29s):
And I got to believe that accident investigation must serve you well when you're defending what may be an inappropriate ticket as a result of a crash,
Joel Lacoursiere (4m 41s):
Correct? Hey, on the dumb Dudley, it has led to some fantastic results for clients. And I think the other important part is the credibility with the courts. And once you've established yourself throughout the province as being a reputable, honest paralegal, who does not, I don't want to say fiddle with the system, but you don't ask for disclosure or evidence you've already got. If you don't ask for it too many times, you're in good shape. You never want to kind of Badger the court system or have a reputation for doing that.
Joel Lacoursiere (5m 12s):
So I think a lot of the times it's well for my clients as well as my reputation. So that serves well, but the actual accident reconstruction side has been unfortunate the last two years, much busier than I had hoped for the LPP released its numbers last week in relation to commercial motor vehicles and collisions. And it was, it was the busiest year ever for both fatalities and number of collisions reported, which is not something that we're striving for with the safety programs and the safety compliance departments and the carriers I deal with.
Joel Lacoursiere (5m 44s):
And as you know, it's a company's footprint is only as good as its safety compliance department. And what you do for a living is certainly enhancing that for many carriers. And what I do for a living is I don't want to say it's damage control, but it certainly is an educational experience for all around. And I think it's for the most part is lent well for at least the carriers that I represent. There's always going to be the, the carriers that don't want to invest the time or the money into proper training that their drivers deserve and require.
Joel Lacoursiere (6m 16s):
But those are also the ones that I think during this unique COVID times are probably being weeded out a little bit more quickly than the properly run carriers.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (6m 24s):
Well, I was talking to a, an insurance broker friend of mine this week. And as you may or may not know, I don't know if you're aware that the insurance market right now is what they call a hard market. He's aware of 14 companies this month in Ontario alone that are going to be closing up shop because of non-renewal of insurance.
Joel Lacoursiere (6m 51s):
And that is exceptionally problematic. And absolutely it's been a hard market for quite some time. And I think a lot of the people that you mingle with the insurance industry are the same ones that I do. And I think overall people like yourself and myself and our viewers, we want to be traveling the 400 series highways, knowing that we're not behind a carrier that is maybe we know too much about, or that we don't feel as safe as they could be. And it's nice to know that some of the, some of the lesser ones that are not inclined to follow the rules are being weeded out. I think it's to everybody's advantage.
Joel Lacoursiere (7m 22s):
And I know a lot of the carriers that I've represented also acquiring some of these struggling, lesser carriers that weren't following the rules the way we perhaps want. So the hard market is kind of good and weeding out those that we probably don't want to conduct business with, or even like I said, being, driving anywhere near on a highway. So I'm not surprised at 14 or going to the wayside. And I've heard of many more cases as well,
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (7m 46s):
As I say, that's just in this month and what are we on as we're taping this, this is the 22nd or 21st of July.
Joel Lacoursiere (7m 55s):
Today is the 20 S what's kind of pathetic that we both have to look, but it's the 22nd today. But as you know, with this COVID situation to time is not as a precisely kept nor as the old date calendar. So it's not been a, a surprise that since March 15th, when the whole COVID thing kind of came full bore in our country, that these carriers are falling to the wayside. And even in the hard market, when there's reduced freight to be distributed amongst the carriers, if you're paying a premium that's in a facility or a high risk market, that alone would be enough to scare any carrier that's kind of on edge and, and teetering towards a bankruptcy or foreclosure, probably enough to push them out of the picture entirely.
Joel Lacoursiere (8m 39s):
So I think that trend will continue. And as until we, I don't want to use the word normal, but I think until we turned returned to, you know, a level of freight being delivered, that was semi resemblance to what we had to this entire COVID explosion.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (8m 57s):
Well, the, the freight I've I'm reading stuff, that it is almost back to where it was prior to COVID, but I really want to know how COVID has affected you and your company. Well, before we get into that, what made you start a paralegal company? Why did you leave the force and go on your own?
Joel Lacoursiere (9m 19s):
Well, I think F after 11 years of placing it, it certainly has its its trials and tribulations in terms of just working shift work for the last four years of my career has predominantly working night shift, which is 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM. It's not the best for your social life, your, your family, your home life, and it's wasn't conducive, I think to me and during a 30 year career, but it was well scheduled and well-planned out. And I knew what I wanted to do afterwards.
Joel Lacoursiere (9m 49s):
And Oh, about three years prior to actually leaving the Orangeville police service, I had already embarked on the Scholastic side of getting my paralegal ticket and the natural transition was to stick to what you know, and what I knew extensively was that I'd responded to hundreds of accidents throughout my career, and certainly was involved in a lot of different enforcement blitzes with both Windsor and Orangeville. And I just thought it was a natural transition, which is it's lent very well.
Joel Lacoursiere (10m 20s):
I mean, if you stick to what you know, or if, you know, one thing really well, and you're not as person who runs it on his business, I think all the wrinkles kind of wearing themselves out. And that's the nice thing about representing over a hundred characters is that I have a good reputation as being knowledgeable and fair. And I don't, I don't break break the wallets in terms of the, the driver and the carriers. I know I provide a fair service for a fair person. It just seemed like a natural transition and no regrets on that decision, Chris whatsoever.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (10m 49s):
There's only from my personal point of view. There's only two paralegals when people say, Hey, you know, I need to fight a ticket. Who do I talk to? There's only two that come to mind and you're on that list. So,
Joel Lacoursiere (11m 4s):
Well, I think for that vote of confidence, it's very flattering to know that the people in the know like yourself that are good at what they do equally in their own right. Is a very, thank you. That's a flattering thing to say, and it's nice to hear those things. So I appreciate your, your company,
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (11m 19s):
As they say, we were talking yesterday, as I was recommending to a client, not far from you to fight a speeding ticket, you know, I understand it, but can you go over how things like a speeding ticket and which I thought it was a two pointer and you mentioned no, Chris, you're an idiot. It's wrong. So can you mention or talk about how the CVR clients or listeners may know it's constructed of three items, collisions, convictions, and inspections, but how specifically do convictions affect the overall CVOR?
Joel Lacoursiere (12m 0s):
Well, it's interesting that you mentioned the word speeding because as you're probably well aware of last week from the 15th to the 21st, I believe where they officially dates, there was a North American wide blitz for speeding without any sort of flex whatsoever. There was no reducing or reduction of tickets to the side of the road, exclusively aimed it's a commercial motor vehicles. And last week was a real anomaly for me since the entire COVID thing, based on the number of tickets that I received from around the province, it was probably upward of 30 or 40 new fresh cases with the unfortunate thing was speeding.
Joel Lacoursiere (12m 36s):
Chris, as it relates to CVOR is at one kilometer an hour over, it starts at two CDR points, as opposed to demerit points for the driver's side, started 15 kilometers an hour, sorry, 16 kilometers an hour over the limit is three demerit points. So it jumps from zero to three at the 16 kilometer Mark and over, and it escalates from there for the CDR side of things. It starts at one kilometer an hour over his two CDR points. And it goes upwards of there from 21 and upwards 21 kilometers an hour over the posted limit is five CPR points.
Joel Lacoursiere (13m 11s):
So it's exceptionally damaging any sort of speeding ticket to a, a carrier and undoubtedly can affect the overall violation rate. Okay.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (13m 20s):
I want you to say that again, that what I heard was that the CVOR points for the carrier are not equal to CBOR points for, or points for the driver. Can you just go over that one more time?
Joel Lacoursiere (13m 36s):
Correct. There's a discrepancy with the demerit points and the CDR points, which means that well last week to give you specific examples is certain MTL officers given the fact that it was a plus week. I had three tickets that were all under 10 kilometers an hour, not reduced by the officer. Now, what I mean by that is that an officer operates on full discretion. At least the police officer side of things do. And I believe the MTL officers can also, although they don't often exercise discretion, they can meaning that when an officer writes a ticket for anything less than 16 kilometers an hour.
Joel Lacoursiere (14m 9s):
So from one kilometer an hour over to 16 kilometers an hour over, it has zero demerit points for a driver. However, the CVOR points to kick in at one kilometer an hour over the limit. And they started to, there is no zero or one. It starts at two kilometers to CDR points for being one kilometer an hour over. And it escalates from there. The maximum width is five CPR points for any given speeding ticket and that's for anything greater than 21 kilometers an hour over the posted limit.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (14m 41s):
So, and when we were talking yesterday, I had a, a speeding ticket for one of my clients, and it was 10 kilometers, the posted speed limit, not reduced, but 10 kilometers over. And so that's going to be how many points
Joel Lacoursiere (14m 59s):
That's going to be two for the, for the carrier, but it also shows up on the driver's abstract, obviously as well, but the CVR points are far greater in terms of significance to the company and as opposed to the, the driver or drivers primary concern. And I deal with drivers on a daily basis and have for the past eight years, they're, they're more concerned about their own wellbeing. And it's, it's certainly not a conflict of interest. I mean, a conviction is a conviction registered. And if you opt to pay that ticket or the 10 K's over the company is settling itself with two CDR points for the maximum allowable 24 month period, that they're gonna be affected by those points.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (15m 39s):
All right. So how has COVID effected your company, your job and defending clients in court? Cause from what I understand right now, the courts for this type of thing, at least they're closed.
Joel Lacoursiere (15m 54s):
Well, Chris, we're going to call this the meat of our interview. Cause I know this is what you were really itching to get to. And I can't can't blame you because this time of COVID has been exceptionally and will continue to be exceptionally beneficial to carriers and drivers like who opted to challenge their, their tickets. What we have is a 24 hour clock. So 24 hour, 24 month clock, which starts ticking the second, the ticket is written. So that even if like the ticket we were speaking about last week with the carrier that got one for 10 over, obviously in the driver's name, even if we just filed that ticket, which we're unable to do right now, because the courts have been closed from March 15.
Joel Lacoursiere (16m 31s):
And as of right now, it's September 14th is the reopening date. However, my sources from the inside of the court are telling me that it'll likely that they're not really in shape to do to anything it's a little bit November. So as of right now, we already created a window just by not paying the ticket of approximately six months that are going to come right off that 24 month period because the clock starts ticking. The moment the ticket was written. So you can't file or defend a ticket when the courts are not open, obviously with COVID, there's great concern about the greater good of society.
Joel Lacoursiere (17m 4s):
And they're trying to figure out a way in which to safely operate the course at courthouses across the province. So in essence, what we have is a, I don't want to say it's a holiday for carriers and drivers, but we certainly have a, a flex period where nothing is going to be added or of any sort of significance to one's abstracts and that's for the company as well as the drivers. So we have a nice frame of which we'll have points coming off the back end of the carriers, abstracts that are going to hit the 24 month expiration date and come off.
Joel Lacoursiere (17m 39s):
And we've already created the gap, which is going to give us a significant amount of time before any courthouse is really in any position to deal with the matter. So in essence, with that 24 month window being cut down by COVID unexpectedly, of course, but it's, it's a great benefit to carriers right now to really kind of get their, their, their, their beans and row, I guess. So to speak, to make sure that they're running is, is optimally at the end of this period, that we can really see some significant increases in overall violation rates coming down.
Joel Lacoursiere (18m 13s):
And that's a fantastic windfall for a carrier to experience as it does, we know affect their insurance rates and their, how they're viewed by the MTO, et cetera. So there's right now, it's a, it's one of the upsides of the unfortunate reality of COVID the others aspect. We have Chris as the fact that enforcement's down, I'm currently running at about a 30% enforcement of what it normally was compared to prior to March 15th at last year was one of my busiest years in terms of number of tickets filed a number of cases fought on behalf of carriers.
Joel Lacoursiere (18m 51s):
And right now officers are only writing for the most serious of offenses that they that's. That's from my understanding, it's a directive and most departments, and I'm only serious collisions and overweight infractions when they go through a scale are really being enforced. And for the most part, it's very beneficial to everybody.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (19m 10s):
Yeah, I can't imagine. I mean, it's quite honestly, if I was a cop too, I want to be pulling over everybody. Like I normally would and exposing myself and my family and my extended family to COVID at the moment where as you say, unless it's a very serious offense, you know, thank God we have the police to literally to police society because some people are need policing and for you and I, and most of us we're capable of making a mistake.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (19m 44s):
And that's when we get a speeding ticket ticket, typically it's not intentional, it's an a missed, you know, human error and we're driving along. So how, you know, you're talking about the courts being open September, somewhere between September and November, there's going to be a huge backlog of dealing with these tickets after the situation gets open. D do you have a feeling I, you know, I'm certainly not asking you for an actual estimate, but do you have a feeling how long it might take for instance, the speeding ticket that I called you about?
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (20m 25s):
Do you have an idea how long it might take before that speeding ticket in particular would get in front of the court once the court's open?
Joel Lacoursiere (20m 33s):
Well, that's a fantastic question, Kristen, and right now you're absolutely correct. And I think the strategically minded paralegal representative can certainly drag out a case significantly right now, but let's, let's stick with the framework of the 10 over ticket. You gave me this example earlier, if that one theoretically is in a court that has early resolution and you set it for early resolution and you order the evidence, the disclosure from the officer ahead of that early resolution date, it's not inconceivable
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (21m 4s):
You carry on and explain because I've never heard that term before early resolution. I mean, I've heard of it, but I don't know it. What is it
Joel Lacoursiere (21m 12s):
In the trial stream you always have, generally you have two, two trial streams for example, are two streams in which the ticket can fall your part, one offenses, which are written by an officer at the side of the road. And they're given to the driver either for the driver and or the company, and they have a price to pay. They have a set fine as well as a total payable, which is inclusive of what's called the victim fine surcharge. Those are called part ones. Generally speaking about half the courthouses in the province on the back of each ticket, you always have three options.
Joel Lacoursiere (21m 43s):
Many courts have what's called early resolution, which is option number two in a lot of cases. And it's a chance to speak to a prosecutor before a matter set for trial. And it allows several things to happen. It can delay the end result of the ticket significantly by weeks or certainly months. And during COVID, I'm telling you it's going to be months or certain, and it allows you a chance to resolve it. Usually at a very preferential resolution, which has advantage to both the driver and the company or the company, depending on what the situation is.
Joel Lacoursiere (22m 18s):
And right now with COVID, they're trying to push for early resolution because they want to get some of these cases off their docket to avoid the backlog that you inevitably spoke about on depth related. There's going to be a huge backlog of cases. And if in theory, all those matters were set for trial. They're going to have to pick and choose which battles they want to go to because they're not going to be able to get to all of them in a timely fashion. Now I'm expecting many of the cases that I'd filed to knock them up until well into 2021.
Joel Lacoursiere (22m 51s):
So let's in theory, if a ticket was written in early March of 2020 this year, before COVID unfolded honest, then it's not inconceivable asserted courts. We're not going to get a court date for 12, 16 months down the road. And that in itself is a huge benefit to a carrier and a driver as the amount of applicable time left for it to have an effect on a CVR or an abstract of any sort is already greatly reduced and very advantageous to us.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (23m 23s):
Yeah. And I'll tell you, the, the MTO, the insurance industry are looking at clients who have conditional ratings. And so this is a huge opportunity for someone certainly if they were conditional because they went over the 70% threshold, a huge opportunity for them to get it down below with the 60%, for six months so that they would automatically go back to satisfactory on audited. But even for those who failed an audit, once your numbers get down low enough, the MTO, I don't know if this has become policy yet, but there was a beta program being tested.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (24m 6s):
I don't know if you've heard of an ASRA alternative risk assessment program or something. I, I, it's an acronym and I forget what it is, but if they meet the qualifications and one of the qualifications was the overall violation rate had to be below a certain threshold. Then they submit paperwork and it would be reviewed by MTO and then their rating would be changed. So that's a huge benefit once your numbers get low enough, this could have a, I never thought of this before that COVID could have some positive outcomes.
Joel Lacoursiere (24m 44s):
Absolutely. Whether it's deserved or not. The only hope I suppose, Chris, you're absolutely right in saying all those things, the, the numerical value of an overall violation rate to come down just by default, given that there's far less enforcement going on, as well as the elapsed time of which certain charges and points are gonna fall off the back end, it becomes abstract. The hopes would be that the companies that were already in that precarious predicament of being in a situation where their threshold was higher than the MTL wants it to be.
Joel Lacoursiere (25m 16s):
They might be the beneficiaries of something that is not necessarily deserved, but just numerically because of the value system, it's going to come down and put them in a position where they're no longer in a, in a bind with the MTO. My hopes would be that these carriers that are on that cast would get their, their act together and get their standard operating procedures in place, et cetera, to ensure that when we get back to a place of normal enforcement levels or whatever that may look like, at least they can be in a position where they're no longer on the MTL radar, so to speak, but that remains to be seen.
Joel Lacoursiere (25m 50s):
And it would definitely have an impact on their insurance ratings and a whole litany of other things that would be beneficial to them.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (25m 56s):
Yeah. I mean, with insurance companies, putting more companies out of business every month, and I think more than the MTO is at the moment. Absolutely. I really would encourage people to, first of all, fight all tickets and while their level is coming down, their overall violation rate, hire somebody like a safety consultant, if it's needed and get their ship in order a little bit of self serving message, but they don't have to hire me just any, any good qualified safety consultant would be an asset to a fleet as well as a good qualified paralegal.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (26m 35s):
And by the way, one of the things I would encourage our listeners and viewers to think about is the paralegal qualified. There's a lot of really good paralegals out there, but there are not a lot that are educated in CVOR and commercial vehicle violations. You know, I never recommend a paralegal who may be very good at fighting, you know, typical highway traffic act violations because he just don't understand commercial vehicles.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (27m 7s):
So last word to you, kind of, what else do we need to have our viewers here about paralegals? COVID the courts, whatever it's kind of a toss up, what did they need to hear?
Joel Lacoursiere (27m 24s):
Well, I think right now, the important thing is just realizing that we're going to stall pattern right now. The courts are officially closed and the attorney general keeps announcing new dates. It's been announced twice so far, where they were going to attempt to reopen in July and that fell to the wayside. Now they're saying September 14th, my, my, the biggest thing I think you come away with after seeing this podcast would be to get your, your shipping order, as you said earlier, and to, if you have any questions, I mean, any reasonable and reputable paralegal, it doesn't charge for any consultation.
Joel Lacoursiere (27m 56s):
I know Chris you're, you're available these days as well, too, to help come from carriers, getting into compliance, et cetera. And I think there's no greater time to do these things. We have a, a situation that we can't control, and I don't know how it's looking next door in the U S I know the numbers. Aren't great, but I, I certainly think Canadian carriers are doing a good, excellent job overall, making sure that we have our fridges are filled with groceries, et cetera. But I think for carriers that are watching is if you have some downtime right now, use it wisely, take to get everything that was historically played in your company to marry to higher insurance rates, et cetera, or, you know, a standard operating procedure that you never quite got around to tying the loose ends up on, reach out to, to Chris, or reach out to a paralegal.
Joel Lacoursiere (28m 42s):
If you have any questions there, free consultations are mandated to us from the law society. So it doesn't charge. We don't charge anything to speak to you, but I think it's a great time to get these ducks in a row. And when the world resumed, we can be, we can all be in a better position for better insurance rates. And just the knowledge of knowing that we're running the best ship we can possibly put forward.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (29m 3s):
Yeah, well said, I think that's a great way to wrap it up and end it. Joel. Thanks so much for coming on the dog on it. Trucking pod.
Joel Lacoursiere (29m 13s):
It's been an honor, Chris. I can't thank you enough. It's always been a pleasure of working alongside you and with certain carriers, and it's nice to finally get on the show. So thank you for having me. Hey,
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (29m 27s):
I forgot we have sound effects that we can use. Thanks, Joel. We'll talk soon
Joel Lacoursiere (29m 35s):
For sure. Thanks. Be well. Okay.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (29m 38s):
I hope you loved the show as much as I did. Please leave us a, like a thumbs up a review, a comment, a rating. If it is, thank you so much. And I do really appreciate your time and join us again next week for another exciting interview.