At first glance, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell's edict that claims of "defective equipment" would no longer be accepted by his prosecutors as a way of avoiding a speeding ticket seems OK. After all, this maneuver has allowed countless speeders to get away with little more than a slap on the hand over and over, and is - as O'Connell says - generally "a legal fiction."
But a closer look provides a somewhat different picture.
Used judiciously, the defense of "defective equipment" has allowed many low-income drivers the opportunity to pay a relatively small fine and avoid the onerous consequences of insurance rate hikes. If this weren't available to them, many of these people would simply go without insurance, which is no good for any of us.
And then there's O'Connell's alternative -- a system in which drivers charged with speeding and other moving violations can get their charge dismissed, if they complete an online safety course at a cost of $150 -- which conveniently goes directly to the County Attorney's office.
Weighing the options, it seems to me that the "defective equipment" defense should at least be acceptable in the case of first-time offenders, especially those who labor under genuine financial hardship. That way, the reduced fine they do pay will go to the court system at large
instead of helping fund a single office, and the smell of "conflict of interest" in the Attorney's office won't be quite as strong.
I'm Bill Lamb and that's my Point of View.