Legislation That Comes Back to Bite You

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Tim Smith has just been trying to help, but as always, no good deed goes unpunished.

Smith witnessed a car accident Monday as he was riding his bike to the beach. (This happened in Fort Lauderdale, where people are still doing that kind of thing in late December.) He jumped off his bike and ran over to see if he could help out. Fortunately, he found that neither driver was injured. Unfortunately, during the brief time that he was doing that good deed, somebody stole his bike.

Sad, but not really newsworthy—except that Smith used to be a city commissioner, and while he was in office had successfully pushed to make everybody register their bikes with the city. He justified this likely irritating paperwork requirement by saying that it would help deter crime since police would then be able to track and possibly return the bikes if they were stolen. Thus the irony of an apparently undeterred bike thief grabbing Smith’s own bike as soon as his back was turned.

The rest of the story, of course, is that Smith then had to admit to police that he had never actually gotten around to registering his bike as he had required. Hopefully, he had insisted on enacting a stern policy for failure to register, and if so will have ended up punishing himself.

It’s happened before. In 2005, a New Mexico man who had helped draft a dog-owner-responsibility law called the “Dangerous Dog Act” was later attacked by his own dog. Under the provisions of the law he wrote, which had no exceptions for dog-on-owner violence, technically this made him guilty of a felony.

He also committed the misdemeanor offense of failing to report his dog’s attack on him to animal-control authorities, but under the circumstances, it’s hard to blame him for wanting to keep that on the down low.