Friday, January 14, 2011

Stiffer Fines Await Lawbreakers

November 1967
  It might pay all young lovers to read this newspaper more thoroughly. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt the rest of us either.
  For instance, did you know you could fork over a $5 fine by driving down the street with your arm around your girlfriend— or visa versa? Or, that it’s also a $5 fine for “lap driving?” Presumably that means just what it says. It would seem though that the penalty would be much more severe having two people behind the steering wheel than having your arm around your companion. But that’s the law.
  THESE GEMS of information were found in City Ordinance 1967-14 published elsewhere in this edition. It is one of six revised ordinances approved by the City Council last week. For them to become law, they must be published in the local newspaper. Ordinarily I shoot these public notices to the back shop to be set into type before I read them. But this one about fines caught my eye. According to Police Chief Bob Werth, the long list of offenses is nothing new. The ordinance merely imposes stiffer fines to keep up with the growing cost of inflation.
  We’re all familiar with the laws regarding meter violations, stop signs, drunk driving and speeding— but how much do you know about too many people in the front seat, splashing pedestrians, driving over a fire hose, hitching on and or backing around a corner?
  Sure enough, there is a $5 fine for having more than three people in the front seat of a car. For splashing the pedestrian, the city gets $10. But what about the poor pedestrian who gets splashed? Apparently he or she gets no mandated compensation for the dry cleaning bill.
  There are several laws for protecting the fire department. If you follow a fire apparatus closer than 500 feet, it’s $10. It’s another $10 for parking in front of the fire hydrant or fire station (what about that parking meter in front of our Post Office that positions your car in front of a hydrant?) and $10 for driving over a fire hose.
  “Hitching on,” according to the Chief Werth, is for bicycle riders who grab hold of a passing car or truck. That’s now worth a $5 fine, plus a possible stay in the hospital. “Riding outside of vehicle” costs $10 if caught. This is quite a feat with today’s automobiles which have no running boards.
  IF THERE’S ONE offense I’m guilty of it’s the one “backing around a corner or at intersection.” This means that you cannot turn around by backing out of one street into another. That stunt can cost you $10. The police chief says that the correct way to do it is to find a driveway. Of course, there’s another offense, costing $5, of “turning through private property.”
  Speaking of backing up, did you know it could cost you $5 for backing up more than 60 feet on a street? And another $5 for failing to give a warning for backing up? So if you plan to do much backing up, you had better carry a yardstick and jump out and warn those behind you that your are backing up. A real serious offense, in my estimation, but still carrying a fine of only $10, is ignoring a school crossing guard. This could be tragic as children cross the streets.
  Failing to shut off the ignition and leaving your car will cost $5. (How many times have you done this at the gas station?) Double parking is also five bucks.
  Since every bonafide bank robber, according to the movies, must double park his car in front of the bank and leave the motor running, it is now clear why we don’t have any bank robberies around Rochester. What bank robber would want to fork over $10 in fines?