By Jordan W. Charness
I’m constantly being asked how I get my ideas for my columns. It’s really not that difficult: in the first place, I tend to keep an eye out for everyday events that happen to me or my family that can be related to you, so that we can all learn from our mistakes. In addition, I am blessed with a very loyal readership that is always eager to send me letters and e-mails asking questions or giving suggestions for columns.
In many cases, the incidents contained in your letters become the basis for a column, since in that way I get the facts from you and mix them with a little legal knowledge from me. In some cases, however, I get mini suggestions or individual questions that are not detailed enough to warrant an entire column but still deserve an answer. Therefore, today’s column will answer a few of the shorter questions you’ve sent to me:
Q: “What is the difference between a single solid line and a solid one? Obviously, the double line means DON’T CROSS, but what about the other one? A single solid line runs down my street. I must cross the line to get into my driveway or drive a considerable distance to arrive from the other direction. Am I breaking the law?”
A: This one really had me scratching my head. For all intents and purposes there is no real difference between a single solid line and a double one. I asked my police contacts what they thought, and was advised that they treat them both in the same way. Upon discussion we came up with the notion that a double line is used in areas where a solid line may be matched with a broken line allowing only the drivers on the broken line side to pass. As the road progresses alternate sides get the broken line and are allowed to pass and sometimes a double line will be painted down the center of the road indicating that neither side has permission to pass on that stretch of road.
As far as the driveway question is concerned, the police have been advised to tolerate people who are crossing a solid line in order to enter their own driveways as long as it is done in a safe and careful manner, even though it may technically be illegal to cross a solid line.
Q: “Parking lots at shopping centres have clearly defined lanes to drive on and spaces in which to park. Aside from those times when the lot is full, people frequently drive at fairly high speeds across the empty parking spaces in order to save a second or two. What is their legal status if they hit some one? Or even if they don’t?”
A: At least this question was a bit easier to answer. Aside from stop signs and no parking in fire lane signs, driving through a commercial parking lot is reasonably unregulated. The normal rule of it being the driver’s responsibility will apply: you must always drive safely and carefully and avoid hitting anybody. Whether you hit someone on the street, in a lane, or in the middle of a parking lot, you will be equally responsible. Driving across empty parking spaces at high speed is dangerous and therefore illegal. Driving across the same spaces in a safe and orderly manner, in most cases, is perfectly legal.
Q: “I’m a longtime reader of your column and have a question about a ticket I got for stopping at a “Reserved for taxi” zone. During the 10 minutes I was there, I was inside the car. A month later the city sent me a ticket claiming that I parked illegally. Do you think I should have received a warning at the site so that I could have moved away instead of getting a ticket? PS: that was the day that it snowed very hard.”
A: Unfortunately for this reader, “Reserved for taxi” means just that. Unless you are a taxi, you are not allowed to stop or park in that spot. While giving a warning might be a nice thing to do, the police are not legally obligated to do so. On a day when it was snowing very hard, there was no real reason for police officer to get out of his car to tell someone who has parked it illegally to move along.