Fruita father fights ticket issued in wrong jurisdiction

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FRUITA, Colo. (KKCO 11 News) - Getting pulled over can leave you with a sinking feeling in your stomach, but what if you found the traffic citation you were given wasn't justified?

Law enforcement is assigned different roads to patrol based on county and city boundaries. One father spoke to KKCO 11 News after becoming concerned that his daughter was written a ticket by a police officer on county roads. Now he thinks Fruita police owe other drivers and city residents an apology.

For many new drivers, being pulled over is their biggest fear, but it’s something that happened to Kevin King’s teenage daughter after she left Fruita Monument High School in October.

"[It was her] first week of driving, first time actually down this road," King said of the traffic stop on J 3/10 Road in Fruita. “[The ticket was] $140 and one point on her license."

Clocked going 32 mph on J and 3/10 Road, King’s daughter was written a ticket for speeding in a school zone, but the circumstances were confusing. There was a 35 mph speed limit sign posted at the beginning of the road leaving campus, but a flashing school zone sign on the other end, unforeseen to half of the drivers.

"She saw the 35 mph speed limit sign and assumed that was what the speed limit was,” King said.

King started some research on the sign, but instead found something else didn't add up. After making some calls to the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding the misleading sign, King learned it was a county road where his daughter was pulled over.

"This is county jurisdiction so it was really interesting the municipality was writing tickets outside of their jurisdiction," he said.

Fruita Police chief Mark Angelo acknowledges a mistake was made when the ticket was written.

"If we're going to write a ticket we need to make sure it goes into the proper court system," he said.

The ticket could have been justified because Fruita police officers are deputized, meaning they’re allowed to do enforcement outside of their jurisdiction. It also means, however, that the ticket must be filed in the county court. In the instance with King’s daughter, it went to the municipal court instead.

"There are pockets all over cities where sometimes we've got half the roadway, we've got the whole roadway, and we’ve got none of the roadway," Chief Angelo said.

Since the school year started, police say 13 other drivers have received municipal tickets on county road J and 3/10 in Fruita.

"It took me 5-10 minutes to find out this is county jurisdiction," King said.

Though his daughter's ticket was dismissed this week, King is still disturbed and hopes the right thing will be done for the other drivers.

"I gave them every opportunity to dismiss the citation," King said. "It's troubling, it's just troubling. It's an over-reaching thing. I think as citizens, we fear of our government, and here we are right in the middle experiencing this."

The 35 mph sign on J and 3/10 Road was removed by CDOT in the last few weeks.

The Fruita Police Department did acknowledge there's a good chance others who have received tickets on this road will come forward, and is asking those issued tickets to call the department at 858-3008.

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