Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislator Protested, Ticket Gets Dismissed; but Police Chief Insists the Speeding Ticket Was Dumped for an Entirely Different Reason

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislator Protested, Ticket Gets Dismissed; but Police Chief Insists the Speeding Ticket Was Dumped for an Entirely Different Reason

Article excerpt

Byline: NIN-HAI TSENG, The Times-Union

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- The Green Cove Springs Police Department is changing the way it handles traffic citations after the recent dismissal of a speeding ticket given to state Rep. Jennifer Carroll.

The Green Cove Springs Republican was cited for unlawful speeding on a fairly desolate road about 11:40 p.m. Aug. 31. Police Chief Gail Russell said she called him a few days later complaining about the citation.

"She was very upset and thought she didn't deserve it," said Russell.

She explained she wasn't going too fast, and that time of night for a Sunday was unreasonable to get a ticket, Russell said. She also said contesting it in court would conflict with her legislative duties in Tallahassee.

The legislator refused to be interviewed for this story, but Russell said he asked for a judge's approval to dismiss the ticket shortly after their telephone conversation. Although Carroll didn't note that the ticket was incomplete, Russell said the officer failed to specify how fast she was traveling.

The chief sent an internal memo Monday to clarify with the city's sworn officers the proper procedures for issuing a speeding ticket. The memo also stated anyone submitting a dismissal request must do so to the court in writing.

Russell acknowledged Carroll's high-profile status influenced him to some extent, but only by making him look into the citation more closely.

"The ticket was half-baked," Russell said. "Here's a lady who has never had a ticket in her life. And to make matters worse, she's a person holding a high position in office."

However, a Times-Union review of traffic citations issued in the past six months by the same officer in Carroll's case shows at least nine faulty tickets out of about 25 that could have been dismissed on the same grounds.

Unlike Carroll, the recipients either paid between $82 and $109 or completed a driver improvement course.

There are likely more faulty tickets, Russell said, as the agency discovered that "several officers have issued speed-related traffic tickets which have been found to be improperly filled out. …

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