Parking ticket (via Flickr user Paul Henman)Enlarge Photo
In states and towns across America, you can find plenty of dumb laws on the books. In Washington state, for example, it's illegal to harass Bigfoot. In Louisiana, stealing an alligator could result in a ten-year jail term. And until 1997, it was against the law to sell doughnut holes in Leigh, Nebraska.
But the fun doesn't stop at our borders. If you're road-tripping through British Columbia this summer, you ought to know that it's illegal to park with your windows down.
It seems that few residents know about the law. Tara Ludvigson certainly didn't until a policeman sauntered into the school where she works, bearing a freshly written, $81 ticket.
And that's when she learned about Section 191 of the British Columbia Motor Vehicles Act, which reads:
(1) A motor vehicle must be equipped with a lock or other device to prevent the unauthorized use of the motor vehicle.
(2) A driver must not permit a motor vehicle to stand unattended or parked unless the driver has
(a) locked it or made it secure in a manner that prevents its unauthorized use, and
(b) if the motor vehicle is standing on a grade, turned the front wheels of the vehicle to the curb or side of the highway.
Ludvigson was stunned -- and who can blame her?
It's easy to see the intent of the law. After all, fewer instances of vandalism and vehicular theft mean a smaller workload for police departments, and that, in theory, gives officers more time to investigate other crimes.
But to Ludvigson's mind -- and ours -- her vehicle was secure from "unauthorized use". It was parked in the same spot she'd been using for the past seven years, without incident. She'd taken the keys with her. Though we don't know what kind of vehicle Ludvigson drives, we know that modern cars are far more difficult to hotwire than their predecessors. And on a more general note, Canada's crime rate tends to be very, very low.
Ultimately, Ludvigson was spared, because the officer changed the ticket to a warning. However, the vaguely written law remains on the books, and can be enforced, if an officer feels so inclined.
Consider yourself warned.