Updated – Michael Arbulic: The Cop Who Wrote a Cheque for Speed
Caught for speeding in excess of 60kph over the speed limit, RCMP Corporal Michael Milo Arbulic walks away with equivalency fines for excessive speeding. Arbulic’s cheque apparently covers sidestepping stating his actual speed, and the possible complicity of police in escaping a Ministry of Justice requirement for an immediate seven day roadside impoundment of his vehicle.
Today in court, RCMP Corporal Michael Milo Arbulic, represented by his lawyer, faced a charge of excessive speeding, and paid the fine for exceeding the speed limit by “more than 60kph”. That 60kph is all the detail the crown would offer regarding Arbulic’s actual speed, giving credibility to a tip that the Corporal was traveling around 200kph.
Interestingly, Arbulic was apprehended by North Vancouver RCMP in West Vancouver on February 14th, 2013 for excessive speeding, after initially evading the police in North Vancouver. According to Cst. Jeff Palmer of West Vancouver Police, while West Vancouver police assisted at the request of North Vancouver RCMP and were on scene, the North Vancouver RCMP made all enforcement decisions regarding this incident.
For those not familiar with the West Vancouver Police, the organization has a record of being tough on speeders as pointed out by this Vancouver Sun article. Perhaps Arbulic’s outcome would have been different had they had sole jurisdiction and encountered one of these members who seems more consistent in their application of speeding laws – to the point of likely ticketing their own granny.
So why then when the speeder is another North Vancouver RCMP police officer was he simply allowed to go on his way?
From the outcome of this case it seems that North Vancouver RCMP may believe there is discretion in the application of BC’s excessive speeding laws, opening the door for potential defenses and sets a precedent as Arbulic escaped roadside impoundment.
After all, if Arbulic’s defense that traveling in excess of 150kph was a “prank”, which was offered as a statement of fact by the crown, holds water then the RCMP messaging around “speed kills” and “excessive speeding” is considerably weakened. There is the question of this statement’s legitimacy. Arbulic simply could have been caught speeding, and used the prank excuse as a premeditated tactic to avoid prosecution. Loopholes certainly exist and are discussed by members.
“That’s a cop trick,” was one of the first responses by an off-record member referring to a tactic employed by Monty Robinsons after his slaying of motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson. Robinson, if you’ll recall, left the accident scene and downed two shots of vodka to deliberately mask his potential intoxication and its role in Hutchinson’s death, a tactic he had been heard discussing previously. Whether Arbulic’s claim of “a deliberate prank” could be seen as a similar tactic is uncertain, but as defense for breaking the law certainly seems somewhat ludicrous, and should be questioned instead of being aped as a statement of fact by the police and media.
Arbulic did not walk away without punishment. The Corporal received an equivalency of the $480 ticket, the fine for speeding more than 60kph over the limit, a $200 equivalency for impound for seven days, apparently excluding estimated towing costs, and a 15% victim surcharge. Additionally, Arbulic pays over $900.00 for the equivalency of the ICBC premium increase over three year. From the uses of the term equivalency, the implication is that this speeding charge will not be going on his driving record, possibly avoiding more strict sanctions for a second offense. He also suffers no inconvenience of the loss of use of a vehicle.
In short, Arbulic has written a cheque, and walked away. Actually, his lawyer ran away across a field to avoid media questions, the only part of this courtroom lack of drama that didn’t seem pre-arranged and pre-negotiated.
The outcome of the case is moderately disappointing, primarily for the lack of transparency offered by the court proceedings. The crown only submitted Arbulic was traveling “more than 60kph” over the limit. There was no questioning of Arbulic’s statement that this was deliberate and a prank. There is also no insight into the process by which the RCMP decided not to impound the off-duty corporal’s vehicle, and their possible complicity in simply letting an excessive speeder off the hook roadside. One questions if the officers who pulled Arbulic over then let him go will see any kind of reprimand.
Per its webpage, the Ministry of Justice is clear on the treatment of excessive speeders;
Impoundment of the Vehicle
Excessive speeding will also result in the immediate impoundment of the vehicle you are driving and costs:
- seven days for a first offence plus towing and storage costs – at least $210
The court did not hear the specifics regarding the police’s handling of this internally. Indeed, the public would not have been aware of Arbulic’s excessive speeding at all, were it not for a single police officer out of all of those involved who raised the issue after police on the scene let Arbulic go.
The tone of the trial’s language avoided the terminology that surrounds a civilian’s excessive speeding charges. Arbulic’s velocity was only described as “high speed”, “high rate of speed” or “60kph over the limit”. There was no presence of the standard Police PR messaging as surounds civilians facing this charge, such as “extreme”, or “dangerous”.
In the end, Arbulic’s case raises more questions for the media and the public into police conduct than it does to comfort us that justice is equally applied to all citizens of BC.
* This is An updated version of this article. Per a communication from Cst. Jeff Palmer, Communications Officer, WVPD, “A West Vancouver Police officer did respond to the highway to assist. However, the vehicle that was the subject of the North Vancouver request for assistance was already stopped along with a responding North Vancouver officer before our officer got there. Our officer did NOT stop the subject vehicle, and did NOT directly observe the reported offence, and did not have other direct evidence on which to base any enforcement action by West Vancouver Police. As such, our officer was not in a position to take any role in enforcement decisions in this matter and did not. ”
In witnessing disposition in court on September 17th, 2013, statements introduced were that West Vancouver police were involved, and it was West Vancouver’s jurisdiction where Arbulic was stopped, it followed that the decision process around his enforcement was theirs. We appreciate the clarification!