The letter of the law

Sometime the letter of the law wins over the spirit of the law. A law is established to protect it’s citizens, which it does in most circumstances. What happens when that same law places it’s citizens in danger? Should it still apply because the law is the law or should we be using our judgement and adapting the law to respect it’s spirit.

It is because of this debate that a Montreal man is contesting a ticket he received for walking in the street to avoid icy sidewalks. The law was established to protect it’s citizens from getting hit by cars. It makes perfect sense. The problem is that sometimes in winter the sidewalks are actually more dangerous for people than the streets are.

In this instance Mr. Martin chose to walk in the street because the sidewalk was slick with ice and snow. In this instance, walking in the street was a lot safer than walking on the sidewalk. When a car approached, he moved to the side.

He was given a ticket for walking on the street where there is a sidewalk.

Lawyers recommend that any individual planning to walk on the street instead of the sidewalk due to ice, take picutres with their cellphone of the sidewalk in case they need to contest a ticket in court. The law does say that a pedestrian must use the sidewalk where there is one available. When it’s impossible to use without risking bodily injury, it is possible to contest the ticket as long as the pedestrian ensures they are not putting anyone in danger. So in other word, moving to the side when cars are passing by is the good thing to do.

Sometimes we forget why the law was created and take the law a bit too much word for word.


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