How many times have you heard that “ignorance of the law is no excuse?” Well, add one more time to that total, plus its Latin translation of Ignorantia juris non excusat. It's been repeated so often, surely it must be true – or is it?
My friend Stacy was ticketed by a North Carolina Wildlife Officer at Fontana Lake during the Memorial Day weekend (a holiday celebrating “freedom”) because his canoe did not contain personal flotation devices for the two aboard. Stacy was unaware of the recent change in the law that had previously exempted unmechanized boats such as the original personal flotation device – the canoe. Traveling in only waist deep water, it didn’t cross his mind he was in danger. However, he was certainly in danger of being ticketed by an over zealous officer to the tune of $215. Stacy tried to reason that if he had known he would have complied with the new law so why not a warning instead? The ignorance of the law mantra was repeated by the officer as if it trumped any kind of logic or sense of fairness.