Hundreds of tickets issued in Hamilton, Middletown school zones

Middletown and Hamilton officers have handed out hundreds of tickets in recent years to those not obeying the 20 mph school zone limits during restricted hours.

“It is a daily concern and problem,” said Middletown Police Chief David Birk. “We will be proactive when we can.”

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In 2018, Middletown police focused on 13 school zones, running radar and issuing citations for drivers exceeded the speed limit for several weeks at the beginning of the school year.

During the blitz, there was “no wiggle room,” meaning drivers operating vehicles one mile over the limit in school zones were issued tickets.

In the first few days, an officer clocked a driver going 64 mph, according to police.

Birk said he would like to reinstate speed blitzes in school zones with a zero tolerance policy, but the department first will need more resources.

“We have reached out to the highway patrol to get (a trooper) assigned to the city again,” Birk said.

The goal is to target school zones through 2 p.m. as well.

“We are being as visible as possible out there. Ultimately it is about safety, not just tickets. Enforcement is a deterrent,” Birk said.

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According to Middletown Municipal Court records, there were 66 speeding in school zone cases in 2018 and 175 in 2019

“Judge (James) Sherron usually doubles the fine for speeding in a school zone,” said Steve Longworth, court administrator. “The total cost for someone found guilty of speeding in a school zone would usually be $200: $100 fine plus $100 in court costs. This could be higher if they have previously been convicted of speeding in a school zone.”

In Hamilton, traffic patrol officers have laminated guides with schedules in school zones, Hamilton Sgt. Richard Burkhardt said. Officers then move around to different zones for enforcement.

“We get calls from citizens and school resource officers when they are seeing a problem and get some of the street units to that specific area,” Burkhardt said.

Hamilton officers issue a warning for the first offense if the driver is going four miles or less over the limit. But traveling 25 mph or more, or being a repeat offender, causes a ticket, Burkhardt said.

“This is about the safety of kids,” Burkhardt said.

According to Hamilton Municipal Court, 88 school zone speeding tickets were issued in Hamilton in 2018, and 23 were issued in 2019.

If the school zone lights are flashing, even though it is a snow day or holiday when school is not in session, drivers can still get a ticket for driving over the school zone limit, Burkhardt said.

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