For the past 10 months, a defendants in traffic cases received sentences higher than allowed under city code.
In May of last year, the city did a routine update of its traffic codes. But during that process, the administration did not take an important step. Mayor Frank Jackson:
“We failed, meaning us, failed to send to council the second piece of legislation that should have been passed."
That piece would have specified penalties for street racing, placing obstructions in the road, driving under suspension and other offenses. And because of that mistake, those offenses should have been treated as minor misdemeanors—carrying only a $150 fine -- instead of fines as high as $1,000 with potential jail time.
Judges have been giving the higher sentences they’re used to handing out.
So far, the court has freed five people who were sent to jail under these circumstances. Officials are trying to find others who were improperly fined or jailed. The city is asking council to pass the measure that would restore the old sentences.