Jonesboro police chief says officers illegally cited drivers
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 10:45 AM CDT
JONESBORO, Ark. - At least 18 drivers who were cited for not changing lanes for a stopped police car are eligible for refunds because the citations were illegally issued, Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates said.
"Basically, what was happening was one of my officers would pull his patrol unit behind another unit on the shoulder of the road and when a vehicle passed without moving to the other lane, one of them would take off, pull the driver over and issue a ticket," Yates said. "This is a good law to protect our officers, but what my men were doing was wrong and we're going to straighten it out."
Yates said he decided to refund the tickets after he was contacted by a lawyer representing one of the motorists who was cited.
The law says a driver must move to an outside lane, if available, when a police car with its flashing lights on is stopped on the shoulder. The misdemeanor offense allows a fine of up to $500 and up to 90 days in jail.
In a letter to patrolmen, Yates described the issuance of citations as "honest mistakes" made by inexperienced officers.
"When the (average) age of the department goes down you start having mistakes of this type, as opposed to mistakes we used to have," Yates wrote. "These are honest mistakes. Our young officers just didn't think things through."
Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com
A service of the Associated Press(AP)