Editorial: Civil forfeiture muddies message

It is not OK to endanger the lives of innocent people but the punishment must fit the crime.

A message needs to be sent that it is not OK to drive so dangerously that you create a very real risk to the lives of innocent people. And it’s morally indefensible to celebrate such an act of stupidity by posting a video of it to the Internet.

But the punishment must fit the crime.

We can all agree that the motorcyclist who on April 6 video-recorded himself or herself travelling at speeds of 300 km/h down a busy highway showed the judgement of a moron.

However, no matter how emphatic that point needs to be made, confiscating the bike and selling it to raise revenue for the government is the wrong thing to do in this case.

Unable to arrest the young man suspected of riding the bike in the video, the police have turned to the Civil Forfeiture Act to try and punish the perpetrator and, perhaps, turn the incident into a teachable moment. Don’t try this at home or we’ll take your wheels – a similar campaign has been waged against the dangers of street racing in recent years.

The difference is that the public has not heard enough evidence to merit having the police take away the personal property of an Esquimalt mom (her son is believed to be the rider in the video).

Police have every right to seize the bike in case it can be used to actually press charges.

Dangerous driving is a serious offence punishable by jail time. If that can’t be proved unless the rider confesses, we understand why police would want to send a message that you can’t commit such a high-profile crime and get away scot-free.

But rather than attempting civil forfeiture, which is more justly applied to the proceeds of criminal activity, the police could better serve their public by ensuring this rider, and other potential daredevils, learn about the very real consequences of very bad decisions.

Driving at speeds shown in the video create a probability of massive injuries and possibly death to the rider, as well the dozens of innocent people sharing the road. That is the message that must be imparted.

After all, the goal is to keep young drivers from taking exceptional risks not merely to keep them from posting to YouTube after they do.