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LETTER: Police Citations on Day of False Alarm

For anyone who received a cell phone citation on the day of the false ballistic missile attack.

What followed after 8:07 a.m. on January 13, 2018, was a day full of fear, anxiety, and confusion. Our office has become aware that many drivers were cited that morning during a Hawaii Police Department program during the minutes after the false alarm notification. It is my belief that that minutes after the false alarm was not the appropriate time to resume strict enforcement of a program that issues harsh and expensive $297 fines for everyone using a mobile device while driving.

While many residents were ticketed for driving while using a cellphone in Hilo, I would like to assist all drivers who were cited for trying get accurate information and communicating with loved ones during the anxiety laden morning:

For those drivers cited who can not afford a $297 fine:

1. I would recommend every driver cited to write to the Traffic Court, explaining the circumstances of this traffic violation citation and asking for your citation to be dismissed.
2. If you don’t get a communication in response, or your request is denied, I would recommend asking for a court appearance first, before paying any fine.
3. If you would like, I am willing to provide you a letter to read into the Court record or hand to the Traffic Court Judge explaining the extraordinary situation that morning and asking for leniency, this one time. To get the letter, I would need a photocopy of your citation for verification. It can be sent to my office at 25 Aupuni St. Hilo, 96720. I could even photocopy it for you, at my office.
4. You can ask for community service in lieu of a monetary fine. There are alot of needy nonprofit organizations out there that can use skilled volunteers.
5. If enough drivers request it, I would be willing to schedule a meeting with Police Chief Paul Ferreira on this matter. Again, I would need your written permission and a copy of your violation notice, for reference.

Councilmember Jen Ruggles

Letters, commentaries and opinion pieces are not edited by Big Island Now.