A Patch reader wrote that he was concerned about unmarked police cars in Newtown. He asked, "How do we know if someone is a police officer or not?"
According to Newtown Police Lt. Richard Robinson, there are many types of unmarked police cars, both state and local, that are allowed to pull over a driver. His advice for anyone who is uncomfortable or uncertain about the authenticity of the stop can do several things before pulling over.
- Alert the officer that you are aware you are being pulled over, either by hand signal or flashing lights
- Pull over to the shoulder and continue to drive slowly to a well lit and heavily populated area
- Call 911. As long as you can show the officer that the call you were making was to 911, you will not be ticketed for making the call while operating the vehicle. Calling 911 is never an infraction while driving.
A check of police logs shows very regularly, people not only take the risk of driving without a license or a suspended license, they continue to break other driving laws as well.
In only the first three days of August, three drivers were found to be driving in Newtown without a valid drivers license.
On August 1, Juan Milian, 22, who was driving his 2001 Jetta alone, was involved in a single-car accident near the Citgo Gas Station that resulted in his being transported to the Danbury Hospital. He received a ticket for making a restricted turn and for Operating Without a License.
Early in the morning of August 3, Phillip Pearl, 26, was driving a 2007 Nissan Sentra on Wasserman way. Pearl was stopped for traveling fast. Upon investigation, it was discovered Pearl's license was suspended. He received an infraction, was released and given a court date of August 16.
Also on August 3, at 11:25 a.m., John Gill, 26, Cherry Street, was observed driving very fast. He then passed another car in a no passing zone and was arrested for Operating with a Suspended license, Passing in a No Passing Zone and Traveling Fast. He was charged and released on a $100 fine with a court date on August 16 in Danbury Superior Court.
Newtown Police Lt.. Richard Robinson said officers must have probable cause to stop a driver, which is why there are almost always accompanying charges.
Robinson said that for a first offense, the fines for driving with a suspended license can range from $150 to $200, and up to 90 days in jail, or both, depending on the severity of the circumstances.
For a second offense, the fines can range from $200 to $600, and up to one year in jail, or both. “It’s a misdemeanor,” Robinson said, noting that the cause of most suspensions is the neglect to pay a fine.
“Usually once the fine is paid, the license is reinstated,” he said, although he added that there are many reasons for license suspension. “If teens break curfew, that automatically results in a suspended license,” he said.
Court judgments often result in license suspensions and being arrested for DWI is also a sure fire way to lose an operator’s license.