Rutherford Co. courthouse sees rush in increased traffic tickets - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Rutherford Co. courthouse sees rush in increased traffic tickets

MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

As state troopers continue to enforce traffic violations in Rutherford County, the crush of people inside the courthouse to pay their fines is causing foot traffic problems.

It was so overcrowded in Rutherford County General Session court Friday morning, it was standing room only, and the line of people stretched out into the hallway.

"You could barely move around. I didn't know what was going on," said resident Myha Roberts.

More than 900 people were on the docket for state traffic violations alone.

"I thought I was going to be here until tomorrow," said resident Nick Kale.

Ever since October, extra state troopers have been patrolling Rutherford County. Officials said Rutherford is second only to Davidson County for the highest number of traffic fatalities in Middle Tennessee.

"That's not a problem, as long as they are not coming in here and saturating by picking people out for nitpicking things," Kale said.

Others see the increased patrols as a revenue generator.

"They're really just money hungry, so they give a lot of petty charges and petty tickets," Roberts said.

State officials say that's not so. Rather, ticketing folks for not wearing a seat belt or for speeding can save lives.

Driver T.J. Higgins was clocked driving 103 mph in a 55 mph zone.

"It really was like shell shock, like a wake-up call," Higgins said. "I was going way too fast, and it was dangerous."

About 1,600 people total had to appear in court Friday, so the city and county fire marshals were on hand to make sure the courtrooms didn't exceed capacity.

"You always have that potential for a safety problem when you have overcrowding, whether it's here or anywhere else," said Rutherford County fire marshal Ken Honeycutt. "There is occupancy numbers posted, and we have to adhere to them."

The circuit county clerk said that's why a new judicial building is desperately needed.

"On a busy day like this, it's trooper tickets, civil dockets. It just re-emphasizes how much busier our court system is," said Circuit Court clerk Laura Bohling.

Several drivers had their traffic tickets dismissed, and many others, who had not received a moving traffic violation in a year, chose to go to traffic school.

However, they still have to pay their citations, plus the cost of the traffic school.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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