It’s the type of thing that any self respecting mobster would be proud of. You act as judge and jury, you’re free to abuse the rules and you can send your victim off a few grand lighter without recourse.
They can’t go to the law, because … well, you are the law!
Such is the result of one of the most ludicrous pieces of Ontario legislation to be enacted in recent years – Ontario regulation 455/07, better known as the anti speeding and stunting law.
In a recent case highlighted by CBC, George Papazov was riding his motorcycle down the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto when he decided to lane-split a short distance between idle cars to his exit nearby. What should (IMHO) be a perfectly reasonable thing to do in the first case, saw Papazov charged with stunt driving under the new law.
As a result, his motorcycle was towed off the DVP and impounded for 7 days. His licence was also suspended for 7 days – and all without due process or even a means to avoid this punishment prior to having his case heard.
The net result was a charge of almost $1000 for towing and storage (any back hand deals with towing companies?) and close to another grand in legal costs – a fight worth fighting as a conviction can carry up to $10,000 in fines! Plus Papazov had no way to get to work for a week … because of a simple act of lane-splitting????
In the end, Papazov pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of making an illegal lane change (still ludicrous in my opinion) and had to sell his motorcycle to pay for all the costs incurred.
“IT’S WORKING …”!!!
In the first 6 months of the new law (up to April 1st, 2008) a total of 1,080 charges have been laid. Of that, a mere 325 were convicted of the actual stunting charge with the rest either pleading to a lesser charge or had their cases dismissed entirely. That’s 755 people who are a grand down and have had to live without a licence for a week without any recourse whatsoever.
The question must be asked, is this law hurting more people than it was meant to save? Of course, there’s the usual parade of police officers citing unsubstantiated claims about increased safety as a result, but that’s par for the course and only adds to reducing the much needed credibility of the police in general – an effect that is bad for everyone.
It never ceases to amaze me how people can get all rilled up over some relatively minor issue and lose all sense of reason and enact something so ridiculous as this. Have we not learnt anything from the past? Any time you bypass a judicial system and bestow judge and jury powers directly to the police you’re in for trouble. It’s 101 law-making and the Ontario legislature is guilty of a grave error that needs to be fixed immediately.
Hell, even I have broken the letter of this law – and me, a model citizen – purely by standing up on the pegs of my KLR 650 to help absorb the myriad of craters that adorn the roads in my home province. That’s Quebec BTW, which is still legal to do as thankfully La Belle Province does not subscribe to such idiotic laws … yet at least.
There are some people trying to do something about it, Tim Chisholm has set up an online petition demanding a review of the law, in particular, the one week seizing of the vehicle and licence suspension without due process. Whether it makes a difference or not, it’s something and can always lead to more.
Until such time as the Ontario legislature either sees the errors in the law or is forced to see them via a constitutional challenge, seemingly any violation of traffic laws in Ontario could see you down a grand, your wheels for a week and the right to drive for a week too.
Hey, it’s Yours to Disccover.
To read the CBC article that highlighted this case, and has the breakdown of convictions under this law, go to www.cbc.ca.
To see the original CMG News item on Chisholm’s petition (and feel free to join the lively discussion following it), click here.