New law will enhance police authority in traffic cases

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A new state law will give police officers greater authority to issue tickets and make arrests in some traffic cases.

Gov. Robert Bentley signed House Bill 1 into law on Tuesday.

The law will go into effect Aug. 1 and have an effect on local police and the traffic cases they work, Clanton Police Department Capt. Neil Fetner said.

“Prior to this law going into effect in August, officers—no matter whether it’s state, county or municipalities—we are not authorized to make arrests or write tickets for things that do not physically occur in our presence.”

The law would apply to wrecks and other traffic cases.

Fetner said the law will allow officers to issue citations for traffic offenses that did not occur in the officers’ presence but does not mandate that they do so.

Fetner said most if not all Southern states have such a law on the books and usually make it mandatory for officers to issue citations.

“In Alabama, we’ve been behind the curve on this issue,” Fetner said. “We’re playing catch-up.”

Officers already investigate wrecks for violations but are not authorized to issue citations if they did not see them happen.

“This will bring a paramount level of accountability to those who operate on our highways with no license and no proof of insurance,” Fetner said.

Fetner said CPD would go over the law with officers prior to the law taking effect.

“We were already investigating this stuff on the scene, but we were limited on the enforcement,” he said.