|Tracy McGonigle, Exec. Dir., HAHS|
I thought things had changed a little in Bull Valley, Illinois, after a new police chief took office. The P.D. has for a long time had a reputation of tough enforcement of traffic violations.
I don't find anything particularly offensive about that, because so many drivers today flagrantly violate traffic laws, such as speeding laws, red lights, stop signs, tailgating and other moving violations.
There are appropriate times to issue a warning, instead of a ticket. And an officer needs a valid reason to make a traffic stop in the first place. In the Winter 2013 issue of the newsletter of the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office is an article citing People vs. Hackett, about "probable cause" and "reasonable suspicion" and how the latter might be a lower standard for a traffic stop.
So what is this about a tractor (pictured (click on image to enlarge it)) and the Bull Valley P.D (not pictured)? Last week this tractor was being delivered to the Hooved Animal Humane Society (HAHS) on McConnell Road, east of Route 47 in Woodstock. A HAHS Board member had donated the tractor, and a driver borrowed a trailer and drove to west of the Wisconsin Dells to pick it up. As he was passing through Bull Valley and almost at his destination, he got stopped.
As the driver passed Thompson Road on Route 120, he saw two Bull Valley PD squad cars. One of the cops pointed at him as he passed, and he figured he was about to get stopped. Which he did. The cop first thought the trailer with the tractor was over-weight. Everything was in order with license and registration. Then the cop wrote the driver a ticket because there was no inspection sticker on the borrowed trailer.
For $120 it's pretty hard to fight a ticket. If it was processed through McHenry County Circuit Court, there would probably be $200-250 in court costs if the driver fought the ticket and lost. If the ticket was processed in Bull Valley's administration adjudication court, there would probably be at least $100 tacked on for "court costs", if the driver sought a hearing on the ticket and lost.
The tractor had been donated. The trailer had been loaned. The driver volunteered his time to go to the Wisconsin Dells area to pick up the tractor and even had to make two trips, because the tractor wouldn't fit on the first trailer he took to get it.
A special donation was made to HAHS to pay the driver's ticket. And so HAHS has "donated" $100 to Bull Valley. Thanks, HAHS.
Next time you go through Bull Valley, be sure to think kind thoughts toward the ever-vigilant officers who are keeping the streets and roads safe for all. Was it right for the cop to stop the truck and trailer because he "thought" it might be over-weight? As soon as he found out that it wasn't over-weight, does his authority for the stop expire?
The HAHS Board member called the Bull Valley P.D. Chief last week and left a phone message for him. He has probably been super busy counting up all the tickets issued by his officers; maybe he still intends to return that call. Maybe...