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July 17, 2018

A wreck on the way to court


A tight curve and a wet road from the morning rain shower was a combination that caused a local teenager to flip her pickup Wednesday and be late for a municipal court appearance in Luther. The irony is to be noted, getting in a wreck on the way to court for a speeding ticket, but the good news is Luther High School senior Kearstin Harp survived the ugly wreck on Hogback Road going into town, with only bumps and bruises. She even eventually made it to court.

It was another day in Luther’s traffic court that meets a couple of times a month on a Wednesday morning. The rest of the docket included drivers who sought probation, some asked for “time-pay” and others asked for community service to pay off fines. Although “time-pay” and community service are options, it wasn’t granted today as everyone who applied for it were found to have had prior “failures to appear” and even bench warrants for arrest in their driving pasts. Judge Stephen Haynes said if someone has a late payment or other dings on their record, it’s an automatic denial on the mercy options to pay out a fine or work it off.

Those in court today were appearing for tickets that ranged from driving past curfew for a teenager, speeding on Highway 66, driving on a suspended license or without insurance and other violations. If probation is granted, drivers get another court date in six months but they don’t have to reappear if they maintain a clean driving record and take care of the paperwork beforehand with a tag agent and the Luther court clerk. Today’s docket also included those who were granted probation six months ago but most of them didn’t appear in court today, or take care of the paperwork.

“If you get probation, just get that done,” Judge Haynes said eventually after ordering several bench warrants for no-shows.

Before court begins, each defendant meets with Town prosecutor Brent Coldiron. The pair works out an agreement to present to the judge, and Coldiron strongly suggests to each defendant they be able to pay their fines that day. One defendant said there was “no way” he could get the money for his $610 fines.  “Our judge is very strict,” Coldiron replied. “If there is anyone you can call for the money today, there’s a phone available. He might send you to jail to sit it out to pay your fines at $100 a day.”

One of the defendants has been in jail since last Friday when he was stopped for alleged violations of not dimming lights to oncoming traffic, a suspended license, and no insurance among others. The fines amounted to about $1,300.  Wearing a gray striped jail uniform and in handcuffs,  the defendant asked Coldiron for a “time-pay” option, the prosecutor said it was unlikely given his record and that it was best to try to get his “trouble over with” today.

As for Harp, she got her probation and paid a $260 fine. Judge Haynes was sympathetic and gave her a driving reminder that when the roads are wet, it’s important to drive more slowly.

 

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