RCMP in Alberta have rescinded a Cochrane teenager’s $1,200 fine for not practising physical distancing while in a vehicle.
The fine was issued Thursday evening and fell under new social distancing legislation, according to RCMP.
The 16-year-old boy’s father, Chris Boettcher, said his son Colby was with his friend in his vehicle, after returning from a job interview.
Boettcher said his son was parked in the driver seat while his friend sat beside him in the passenger seat. The vehicle was parked at Mitford Pond in Cochrane.
According to Boettcher, the RCMP officer handed out the hefty fine when the teens’ addresses on their identification did not match one another.
The teen’s father said he agrees with the need to practise social distancing but said neither he nor his son were aware of the rules surrounding this.
“As far as I know, the only rule is you can’t be hanging out 15 or more people, which there wasn’t 15 people there,” Boettcher said. “He’s a 16-year-old kid.
“I see people driving on the street, and there’s more than one person. If this truly is a law in effect, I don’t think many people know about it.
“He didn’t educate the kids in the car about what they did wrong. What Colby got out of it was, because they’re not from the same address, they can’t be in the same car.”
Boettcher said that he believes “where the cop failed Colby is not telling him why what he was doing wrong. They thought they were doing things right by not being in big groups.”
On Friday afternoon, Boettcher said his family received a call from the RCMP that the ticket would be thrown out, which Global News has since been able to confirm with police.
RCMP spokesperson Fraser Logan told Global News that while officers do have the discretion to lay that offence notice and the ticket was within the member’s right, after further discussions with senior RCMP management, a decision was made to cancel the ticket.
Logan added that the ticket does not follow the spirit of education and informing before enforcement. He said officers would prefer it if these cases never have to go to enforcement.
Going forward, RCMP said they will be looking at offences on a case-by-case basis, noting that the most egregious acts that violate the public health order will be enforced.
“Community peace officers and police officers will enforce public health orders such as gatherings of groups of 15 or more, non-compliant business operations and violations of the direction to self-isolate,” read a statement issued by deputy commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer of the RCMP in Alberta. “Additionally, the federal Quarantine Act is now in effect in our country.”
RCMP confirmed there were at least two tickets issued Thursday evening under the social distancing legislation but could not confirm how many have been issued in total so far. Both tickets issued Thursday in Cochrane relating to social distancing laws have been cancelled, RCMP said.
Calgary police said Friday that so far, their officers have issued just one fine related to self-isolation orders.
In a statement, Calgary police said the department continues to work with all of its partners to help decrease the impact of COVID-19, adding that enforcement will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
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