If you park on the street, beware! I recently learned, by way of a 7am ticket, that it is illegal to park within 5 meters of a stop sign, even if you are completely behind it, not blocking the intersection, nor impeding view of the stop sign. Driving around Montreal, one can easily see thousands of cars parked in similar spaces; a veritable gold mine for police officers short on their quotas.
Meanwhile, Stationnement de Montreal has hundreds of parking meters that invite drivers to break this law, at a cost of up to $3.00 an hour! Despite this glaring hypocrisy, (including 2 such meters right in front of the court house!) a judge upheld my ticket, suggesting that I, a private citizen, take Stationnement de Montreal for their illegal meter placement. Ha!
The message is clear: parking within 5m of a stop sign is illegal – unless you pay – either $3.00 an hour, or a flat $52.00 fine. Can someone explain why we put up with this?
Given the shortage of parking spaces in certain areas of Montreal, I don’t believe that Stationnement de Montreal should be forced to remove these parking spaces. What should happen is that this law needs to be changed. Instead of banning all parking within 5 meters of a stop sign, ban all parking that blocks a driver’s view of a stop sign. I even called the Ministry of Transporation. They said “they would look into it.” What has come of that research? Has it even happened? No one knows. I certainly don’t.
This was not the first parking ticket I ever received. It was, however, the first I contested. Whenever I have been ticketed for parking during a maintenance period, I have paid the ticket on the same day, in order to put it behind me, so to speak. This one was too crazy to pay without having my say.
I have asked numerous City of Montreal offices, elected officials, police officers and sargeants why this law was applied, on one occasion in the over 1500 nights I have lived in that area and none could offer an explanation. Thankfully, I did meet one officer who, after needing to look up the offense in his little book because he’d never heard of it before, was candid enough to say that he doesn’t give stupid tickets like that, tickets that do not “ameliore le bilan routier” – improve road safety. My thoughts exactly. The only answer I received from a police supervisor was that “giving tickets or looking the other way is at the discretion of each officer.” What a police-brotherhood answer. I find it sad that a rookie can read the Highway Safety Code one night as a bedtime story and then go out and ticket unsuspecting drivers for infractions that everyone commits but harm no one and that have been consistently overlooked for so long. And don’t even think to say “I’ve never heard of that law” – however obscure it is. A judge will be quick to point out that “ignorance is not a valid defense.”
I get it. This presumption of knowledge is essential to meting out justice in our system. Without this presumption, anyone could parade themselves in front of a judge and cry “I didn’t know it was wrong” and be acquitted – but come on – what about when a money-making service for the city TEACHES us that it’s okay to park in a certain space, in defiance of the laws we are supposed to all be aware of? How can a judge not say “Hmmm.. at the very least, I can see where this would become confusing.”
It’s incredible to me that courts are strictly mete out “justice”-laden $52 fines on obscure traffic violators but we let people go free with unconditional discharges after being found guilty for stealing and assault, never forcing them to pay for their transgression. Oh, and when they do pay, the money goes to the city, not to the victim. I speak from experience.
Again, it’s all about money. Logic, justice, fairness, and common sense be damned. And I ask again: why do we put up with this from our elected officials? from our city? with our tax dollars? It’s time to stand up and demand better.