At the end of last month, Honolulu experienced one of the worst traffic jams in its history. This was no normal traffic situation, with many cars stuck in a dead stop for several hours. While anxious and frustrated drivers turned to texting or calling their loved ones to let them know they were stuck in the major stand still or to arrange for a ride for children, officers leapt on this opportunity to dish out an exorbitant amount of tickets. By the end of the day, 65 drivers were issued tickets that carried $290 in fines a piece. In total, Honolulu Police Department, hit pay day, bringing in $18,000 in fines.
Even though police representatives admitted that the ticketing strategy they employed was unfair, they still claim that their operation was pre-planned, prior to the traffic jam occurring. Reportedly, police representatives stated that they were unaware of any backed up traffic on the highway and did not try to take advantage of the situation. However, it seems obvious that officers near the streets and even back at headquarters should have heard about the traffic jam at some point. It was 5:00 p.m. when many of the drivers were ticketed, which meant the gridlock had been going on for hours at this point.
Some drivers that were ticked said it was like an assembly line, with officers walking through the highway and flagging down drivers. They directed many to a gas station parking lot, where they were handing out tickets one after the other.
Captain Admits Operation Was Wrong
During a press conference, Captain Darren Izumo of the HPD admitted that the operation should have been canceled as soon as they found out about the traffic jam. He still, however, holds to the fact that they had already planned to focus efforts on curbing cell phone usage by citing drivers before the ZipMobile broke down.
The HPD claims that as soon as they were notified, they ceased action. Captain Izumo apologized for not telling the officers to stop writing tickets sooner, as his energies were focused on getting westbound traffic flowing, not calling off the operation. Soon after, HPD cancelled all similar operations for the time being.
Despite this admission of wrong, the police department says that it will not cancel the tickets they issued during the ZipMobile traffic jam. Instead, they have encouraged drivers to take their tickets to court and try their chances convincing the judge to dismiss their tickets.
If you were issued a ticket for using your phone during March's Honolulu traffic jam contact me for counsel. I can help you fight your ticket and avoid paying unjust fines!