Ticket Trail: Judge gets tough on speeders

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Cat Andersen/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Those who've been to traffic court a time or two know the system.

"They say if the officer doesn't show up then they will throw it out and I don't have to pay anything," Indianapolis driver Eric Barlow said.

And to some, a $150 ticket is worth the gamble.

"They would come to court, throw the dice, hope that their officer didn't show up because if he didn't then their case got dismissed and they got to go home," Judge William Young told us.

In Marion County Traffic Court, you could say Judge Young is the new sheriff in town. He said, "I'm turning the heat up on the police officers."

The judge gives everybody fair warning making this statement before each court session: "If you're here in court, know that the officer or deputy who wrote you the ticket is also here. Even if you don't see him or her know that they're just a phone call away.'

"They're shocked when the officers are here, going, 'What do I do now? I was hoping I'd get out of here,'" Judge Young said.

Add in the sticker shock. Most drivers who try to fight their ticket in his courtroom and lose, walk out owing an extra $400 in fines on top of their $150 ticket.

Indiana State Police Trooper Shanna Kennedy said, "I've told people I wouldn't play around in this county. I wouldn't do it."

"I'm not here to tell people how to drive but if they get the ticket I'm going to tell them how it's going to end up," Judge Young warned. He said he welcomes those who have a valid defense and evidence to back it up. "If you can say your speedometer was off and you go and get it repaired and bring me the receipt you get to win!"

But he has no tolerance for those who play the game and refuse to own up to their mistake. "I think that to the least thing in our lives if you don't take responsibility for it it just builds to the point where you're not willing to take responsibility for anything at all."

Judge Young also draws a hard line on school zone speeders. "It's very dangerous for them out there."

Most drivers agree. Still, some of the hot spots we came across in our study of more than 111,000 tickets were school zones. One at 700 E. County Line Road racked up more than 500 tickets last year. It's hard to tell there's a school there unless you stop to examine the small lettering on a church sign. A quick glimpse in the rearview mirror or a glance to check traffic to your left is enough to miss the school zone signs.

So we asked lawmakers, "If you really want to slow down drivers near school zones why not make them obvious?"

Democratic Representative Terri Austin is Chairman of the House Roads and Transportation Committee. She told Eyewitness News, "It's up to each community and it's the municipality's responsibility to install those signs and bear the cost of it. So I think anything we can do to make sure that kids who walk to school are safe is something we ought to take a look at."

Ticket Trail - See data on when and where you're most likely to get a ticket.