Ticketing of Montreal driver for loud singing is excessive use of power

No carpool karaoke: Ticketing of Montreal driver for loud singing is excessive use of power

Benjamin Jacobs // Contributor

Everyone has a go-to song and for Taoufik Moalla, a 38-year-old father of two in Montreal, singing one of his favourites in the comforts of his car cost him a hefty sum. According to the Montreal Gazette, Moalla was slapped with a $149 ticket by police officers for “screaming in a public place,” but his story is that he was singing the refrain of “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory.

While disturbance of peace is a valid offence, simply singing in the private confines of a vehicle – even if you were to belt your heart out to the highest of notes – is such a trivial issue, that a $149 fine is not only unnecessary, it is also petty. At least, Moalla should have gotten away with a simple warning.

This is not the first case where the Canadian police have handed a heavy fine over something seemingly so innocuous. In January, a Calgary resident, Dave Balay was given a $465 ticket because he had a small tear on the top corner of his driver’s license. Sure, it could pass as vandalism of government property, but a personal identification card is also, well, personal.

Ticketing someone for playing loud music and even enthusiastically singing along is nothing short of an overreaction and unnecessary use of power – especially considering the amount of the fine. It is also worth noting that “disturbing the peace” only applies under the following conditions: the person is fighting, screaming, being intoxicated, impeding or molesting other individuals. None of which were applicable to Moalla’s case, except for screaming, which even then, is a stretch.

If Moalla was screaming, then someone walking by or one of the residents in the neighbourhoods he was driving through would likely have reported his behaviour. However, there was no proof that anyone was disgruntled of his singing, therefore, he was not disturbing the peace. Even if he was actually bothering anybody, then at most, he should have been let off with a warning. As the CBC reported, Moalla was going to a store to buy water and it’s hard to imagine someone screaming along to anything other than songs made by metal bands such as Slipknot and Slayer.

Both the Moalla and Balay controversies lead to speculations about whether some members of the police force are going on some form of power trip and abusing their authority over innocent people. Especially since both Moalla and Balay hardly even qualify as misdemeanours.

Regardless of how loud Moalla was singing, it could not have been loud enough to really disturb the peace in the neighbourhood he was driving through. And even if he was annoyingly loud, a $149 ticket is an unfair, unnecessary and utterly unacceptable use of police authority. A warning was more than enough.

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