From enforcing the law to helping traffic and DUI defendants in court

Grant Gottgetreu has made a career change, going from handing out tickets as seen here last September in Coquitlam, to helping those charged with traffic and impaired driving offences get their tickets thrown out in court.

From handing out some of the harshest punishments that traffic laws allow to now helping those on the receiving end, Grant Gottgetreu has moved on.

Known by former police colleagues as “Darth Radar,”  Gottgetreu hung up his speed gun in April after impounding more than 2,000 vehicles for excessive speeding (40 or more kilometres an hour above the posted limit).

The 48-year-old, who was a traffic officer and team supervisor for 28 years in New Westminster, West Vancouver and with the Integrated Road Safety Unit, is now a consultant for legal defences.

“From speeding tickets to over-.08 cases, I can be the ticket to your success in court,” he says.

“I’m not suddenly a three-headed monster,” Gottgetreu said from the side of the road near Mount Rushmore, where he is on a motorcycle trip. “I’m not switching sides. I’m not against the police now. It’s no different than when I was a police officer, I wasn’t against drivers.

“I’ve always been about due process and proper procedure.”

Among the 2,000-plus vehicles Gottgetreu impounded from 2010 to 2017 were family campers to couriers to $300,000 grand tourers.

Rental car returns, a Canada Post van, vacationing families from out of province, people racing to catch a ferry or a plane, taxies, a dump truck, a Kenworth, it didn’t matter.

Nor did it matter who was driving.

Gottgetreu’s victims, such as it were, included (in their private vehicles) fellow cops, firefighters, a priest, teens, people in their 80s.

“The thing with me, and you can ask anyone whose car I’ve impounded,” he said at the time, “is I’m fair. I’m consistent across the board.”

And that’s what he is doing now, he said.

Tickets are often thrown out because an officer failed to dot every “i” and cross every “t”.

“I stubbed my toe lots of times in court and I paid very close attention to why, and learned from it,” Gottgetreu said. “I have a critical eye, I can spot things. It’s all about fairness, if there are errors they need to be identified.”

As a traffic cop, he had his boosters and detractors, all of them passionate.

When the West Vancouver Police Department announced his retirement at the end of April, 96 people commented online. A lot of them were vile, like hoping the former police corporal gets run over and killed by a drunk driver.

We’re already using him,” said Paul Doroshenko, a defence lawyer who specializes in impaired driving law. “He’s really useful. You’ve got a guy who trained everybody. And he’s able to explain things to lawyers better than most.”

There are some, however, who think Darth Radar going to the other side is just wrong on some level.

“I heard he was good (at his job), dispassionate,” said Ian Toothill of Sense BC, an advocacy for sensible road safety laws and enforcement. “But when I read about the guy impounding 2,000 vehicles …

“That tells you the law’s an ass or something is terribly wrong. Or both.”

Like politicians who go on to be lobbyists, Toothill sees the potential for a conflict of interest with former traffic officers becoming defence experts.

“My issue with the whole issue of speed enforcement is it’s seen as a career path for them when they leave the business and do stuff like he’s doing.

“I get that his knowledge is valuable and probably is a big help to people trying to prove themselves in court, people defending themselves. But he was a big believer in keeping law and order on the roads. He talked about principles. What are his principles, really?

“I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s so distasteful, but it seems completely off.”

CLICK HERE to report a typo.
Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email