Sunday, December 11, 2011

Unbuckled child costs driver $172.00

So, what's the truth in this story?

On the front page of today's Northwest Herald is a story about a Lakemoor woman who got a ticket in June pertaining to her daughter's seatbelt ticket. That ticket cost her $172.00, which was paid by a collection of money donated by McHenry County attorneys who took pity on Lydia Rosario.

The story says the ten-year-old daughter had "briefly" unfastened her seatbelt to reach for something she had dropped. A sharp-eyed McHenry County Sheriff's deputy spotted the violation and pulled Rosario over.

The deputy issued a ticket. The reporter wrote, "She (Rosario) also appeared confused about how what started off as a $25 fine ended up at $172 with court costs." Darned right that Ms. Rosario is confused. First of all, it's not a $25 ticket. Maybe it ought to be a $25 ticket, but it's not. Let's try $120 for that ticket. Is that a lot closer?

Ms. Rosario's being a person with a disability doesn't have a thing to do with the story. Judge Wilbrandt, with whom Woodstock Attorney Wes Pribla took issue, doesn't set the fine for the seatbelt violation or the court costs. Because I wasn't in the courtroom, I can't comment on whatever happened during the hearing that got Pribla's attention. According to online court records, Ms. Rosario had appeared pro se; i.e., without legal representation. Judges will often grant a little leeway to defendants who represent themselves, but the burden is on the defendant to defend herself properly and as permitted by legal rules.

I don't know the circumstances of the traffic stop. If, indeed, the child had briefly unfastened her seatbelt, then the mother doesn't deserve a ticket; a warning should have sufficed.

The Northwest Herald report was kind not to name the deputy. Who was the deputy who issued Ticket No. 05058576?

Because of the now-outrageous levels of fines and court costs, maybe deputies (and police officers) should exercise more discretion when deciding whether to issue a ticket or a warning. Would a Warning have sufficed in this case? If a ten-year-old passenger chose to unbuckle "briefly" (was it only "briefly"?), is it fair to sock the driver with a large fine and resulting court costs?

Was the kid in the front seat? Probably not; the kid was probably in the back, out of the driver's view. Isn't a driver supposed to pay attention to driving? Could a driver miss the fact that a kid in the back seat had unbuckled?


M.U.G. said...

"Because of the now-outrageous levels of fines and court costs, maybe deputies (and police officers) should exercise more discretion when deciding whether to issue a ticket or a warning."

Officer/deputy he/she did as revenue is down city and county wide all over the country.

tiredofthenonsense said...

Really can't get much more vague with your guesses can you? What happened to your "zero tolerance" stance?

Gus said...

Zero tolerance works well for things in the control of the driver: speed, lights, wipers, stop signs, red lights.

When a 10-year-old slips off her seatbelt behind the driver, where the child cannot be seen, you really think that's a good reason for a $172 ticket?

Now, if the mom left home with the kid unbuckled? Sure, give her the ticket.

Nobody Important said...

Lydia Rosario. I bet a million dollars based on that name the deputy was looking for a no valid arrest. Can't get the Hispanic for no valid, jam her up with an outrageous ticket.

Ray said...

So a $175 wiper ticket would have been ok? umm, ok.

tiredofthenonsense said...

Doesn't wash.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not saying she should have gotten a ticket, but since she did back in July, I think seatbelt fines are $75 not $25... but I may be mistaken. Because it was a "child", I heard those types of tickets require an appearance... could be wrong 'bout that too. If the judge gave her supervision and 90-days to pay the fine, and obviously she didn't, repeated visits to court cost money, thus court costs would raise it up to the ~$150... maybe???
Anyway, a couple of my 24 ouncers rolled off my rustbucket's passenger seat a few mornings ago. I undid my belt to reach down and pick'em up. While doing so I passed one of McHenry County's Finest and he pulled me over for not wearing a belt. I told him what happened, gave him one of my donuts and one of the brews to wash that stale donut down. He let me off with a "Tnanks!" DOH!!!!!!

Gus said...

TMB, I think you're right about the $75 fine. The fine went up, but I'm not sure when. $75 + $100 court costs sounds right.