Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Equity Demands Equal Pain

In a recent decision, Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Peter Lauwers wrote, "The legislative scheme offers no way out for people who are impoverished, dealing with health issues, or other difficulties, and who bear the burdens of these enormous fines for many years... It is most unfortunate that there is no process in the system for commuting old and back-breaking fines for people who have little prospect of paying therm, and whose lives are being ruined."

 The Canadian Law Dictionary defines equity as "Justice according to natural reason and good conscience as distinct from that which is strictly according to law."

In the spirit of Justice Lauwers' enlightened approach to law enforcement and in a spirit of equity, I propose that motor vehicle fines be levied in such a way as to produce equal pain for all offenders, that they be levied according to the defendant's ability to pay.

A $50 parking fine is a serious burden for a low-wage earner but a mere nuisance to a rich person and unlikely to discourage further violations.  Therefore, fines for parking and traffic offences be rated according to the value of the car. Thus the $50 fine for the owner of a modest car would be $100 to $150 for the owner of an up-scale vehicle. The brand name of the car can be programmed into the hand-held devices of ticketing officers such that the ticket automatically indicates the amount of the fine.

Equity demands equal pain for equal violations of the law.

No comments: