Posted: June 25th, 2021
Please respond to each prompt in at least 100 words. These are thought responses and will require no references, just your thoughts on the prompts.
The vague law about vehicles being prohibited on park paths, reminds me of a news story a few years ago about an officer shutting down a kid’s lemonade stand, because it is illegal in their state (many states actually). I remember thinking, “if selling lemonade is illegal, shouldn’t selling girl scout cookies be too!”
You could argue that this law is an example of both legal paternalism (for the safety of the driver) and offense principle (comfort of bystanders and could potentially lead to harm). Offensive behavior is open for interpretation by the individual, which in return creates additional vagueness. If I look at both angles (self vs. others), I would define the law as, all riding vehicles are prohibited on the park “walking” paths. This includes, but not limited to, motorized vehicles (motorcycles, battery-powered kid’s vehicles, golf carts, etc.) and non-motorized vehicles (bicycles, skateboards, roller skates). Moreover, I would guide individuals to the bike path, skatepark, and other appropriate outlets for the stated vehicles.
By defining the law and providing clear examples, it is providing safety for both riders and pedestrians. In addition, a vague law permits law enforcement when to enforce and when to ignore (lack of consistency from officer to officer) and could open the door for other types of cases. For example, if a child is not ticketed for
riding a bike on the park path, but an adult is, could this be a future age discrimination case?
Vague statements are found in a lot of our everyday conversations, but when they are found in a written law or ordinance, it can become even more difficult to interpret them. In the example from the text book, it is clear that in this statement the word “Vehicles” needs to be better defined. If this law or ordinance is challenged in the court of law, I feel that it would be the attorney’s responsibility to establish what classification the word “vehicles” refers to. What was the originally purpose when the ordinance or law was put into effect? I do not feel that the law should be interpreted to ban the use of bicycles, children’s pedal cars, and battery-powered remote-control cars. If I were to argue against the ordinance to allow these, I would try and establish these as toy’s and not “vehicles.”
One could argue that a “vehicle” in a park setting would be classified as something having a gas motor over a certain horsepower and requiring a seatbelt or helmet to operate. Maybe “recreational vehicles” would have been a better word choice. As an attorney arguing against the vagueness of this law, I would attempt to use “Legal Paternalism” or in this case, the lack of it to defend my claims. A view that a law can be justified if it prevents people from doing harm to themselves; that is they forbid people from doing X or make it impossible to do X, for a person’s own good. Riding a bicycle, or a kids pedal car usually wouldn’t fall into a category of harm and are not typically banned to protect a person from doing them. Hopefully this would allow people riding a bicycle, or a small child’s battery-operated car, access to the path in the park without fear of breaking a law or violating an ordinance.
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