Beyond the Headlines

What to do about Chester Eisnor?

Posted: Jan 19, 2012 10:51 AM ET Last Updated: Jan 19, 2012 10:51 AM ET
Every once a while in this business, you come across a story that leaves you shaking your head.
 
Chester Eisnor is one of those stories.
 
When we first met Mr. Eisnor in December 2010,  the 44 year-old Beaverbank man owed the province more than $100,000 in unpaid motor vehicle fines. Eisnor had been arrested multiple times for driving without a license, driving without insurance, and registration.
 
At the time, Eisnor told us it was a "no win situation". He wasn't going to pay the fines and he was going to keep driving so he can work and earn a living.
 
Well, he was telling the truth. When we caught up with him on Tuesday, Eisnor was back in court, again for driving without a license and insurance, and his outstanding fines now total closer to $150,000.
 
Eisnor isn't alone. We know of a 39 year-old woman who owes $45,000 in fines, and a 26 year-old who has already amassed more than $35,000 in fines.  In fact, about 24 thousand Nova Scotians have unpaid motor vehicle fines.
 
To be fair, the province usually gets its money. For most of us, they simply won't renew our driver's license until we pay our fines. For larger amounts, they can seize your car, or garnishee your wages.
 
But there isn't a lot  they can do to collect money from these so-called "frequent flyers". They don't have regular jobs, they have few assets, and when they are arrested they're usually driving junkers, so even if the car is seized and sold, there is barely enough money to pay the towing charges.
 
Now, some might say who cares, it's just some unpaid fines. Well, consider this: if one of these "frequent-flyers" rammed into your car, or struck your child in a crosswalk, you would have about as much chance of getting compensation as the province has collecting its fines.

In court this week, Eisnor told the judge he could put him in jail, but then it would cost taxpayers $300,000 to care of him. That's a bit of an exaggeration of the actual cost of incarceration, but point made.
 
So the cycle continues. The Chester Eisnors of the world keep ignoring the law, knowing that at the end of the day, there's very little anyone can do about it.
 
What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how to end the cycle?
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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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