Vehicle inspections are necessary for ensuring that every car on the road is held to a similar standard of reliability and safety for everybody. But perhaps one traffic cop in Fairfax County, Virginia takes traffic enforcement a little too seriously.
Bruce Redwine, a mechanic shop owner of 21 years in Chantilly, Virginia, spoke to The Washington Post about the issue of one specific Fairfax County traffic enforcement officer writing tickets for expired registration on vehicles as they sat on his lot waiting for registration renewal.
According to the report, Fairfax County police parking enforcement Officer Jacquelyn Hogue would regularly approach Redwine’s repair shop and write tickets for vehicles out of compliance with the law – even if the vehicles had already entered the shop for inspection.
Officer Hogue cited a letter by the property owner giving law enforcement permission to access the property to ticket any vehicles on the lot – to her discretion. The letter’s language allows Hogue to write tickets for any violations of the traffic laws – though it was intended only for vehicles illegally parked to be ticketed and towed.
Frustrated with Hogue’s encroachment on his customer’s attempts at making their vehicles compliant through his shop, Redwine approached Hogue as she was writing a ticket and snatched it from her.
From the article:
Bruce Redwine had seen enough. After years of watching a Fairfax County parking enforcement officer slap tickets on his customers’ cars for expired tags or inspection stickers, usually as the cars were awaiting state inspection or repair at his Chantilly shop, he snatched the latest ticket out of Officer Jacquelyn D. Hogue’s hand and added some profane commentary on top.
Hogue responded by having Redwine arrested for felony assault on a police officer, though she is not a police officer. And when the case first went to court, a Fairfax judge sentenced Redwine to four days in jail.
Redwine appealed the case to a jury trial, and after a 20 minute deliberation, the jury acquitted him. He was still forced to be arrested, booked, had his fingerprints inked, and had his photo taken prior to the case being heard, tarnishing an arrest record that had been clean for 57 years.
Hogue wrote in her report that Redwine “squeezed my hand and twisted it” and that it later began to swell. An officer took pictures of Hogue and her hand. A number of officers and supervisors arrived on the scene, the reports show, but they elected not to charge Redwine with felony assault.
Instead, Hogue was advised to see a magistrate and obtain a misdemeanor charge. Four days later, she did.
Redwine offered to apologize to Hogue for his angry comments to her, in exchange for dismissing the charge, but Hogue declined. He said the officers who testified “thought it was ridiculous that it was being prosecuted so vigorously. . . . Is this the kind of investigation we pay police to do?”
Though Redwine was eventually acquitted, he filed for an internal affairs investigation into the trouble-making traffic cop, but has doubts that anything will come of it. Hogue has since been reassigned to a different part of the county.
Redwine had attempted to avoid confrontation by handling some of his customer’s tickets himself – he claims up to $2,200 worth in one month. His concern was that he would lose customers if they were being ticketed for him not inspecting their vehicles before the officer arrived to prevent that very thing.
This isn’t just one shop owner either. There are multiple reports of Hogue arriving to inspection and repair shops and ticketing any vehicle sitting on the lot or in the shop for non-compliant registration or other issues.
Brooke Wright, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman referencing the letter permitting traffic officers to write tickets on site, asked “Why aren’t they barking up their property manager’s tree?”
Because I’ve delivered my car for inspection specifically to avoid being ticketed, Brooke. That’s like walking into a bar and ticketing anybody with car keys for drunk driving, even if they’re on the phone with a taxi. It just shouldn’t be done.
This is targeting. Fairfax County is punishing its drivers as they work to resolve the issues they are being ticketed for, and shop owners are losing business and even being arrested for pointing out just how counter-productive and downright stupid it is to write tickets as the ticketed issue is being taken care of.
Redwine’s lawyer Dickson Young, in reference to Officer Hogue, put it best:
“There’s no law against using common sense,” Young said. He said the property management wouldn’t know or care about outdated tags or inspections.