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Bill to dismiss tickets when the officer doesn’t attend court delayed

The bill would require that a traffic offense be dismissed if the officer who wrote the citation is not present for the defendant’s court date.

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The House Judiciary Committee carried over legislation Wednesday that would require that a traffic offense be dismissed if the officer who wrote the citation is not present when the defendant appears in court for the court date.

Senate Bill 197 is sponsored by State Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Jim Hill, R-Odenville, is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

“Senate Bill 197 says that if the officer who writes the citation is not present at the court date, then the case should be dismissed,” Whatley said. “The officer can request a continuance as well as the defendant.”

According to the wording of the bill:

“This bill would provide that if a person who is issued a citation for a nonfelony traffic infraction appears before a court as provided in the notice to appear and pleads not guilty, and the law enforcement officer who issued the citation fails to appear before the court, the court is required to order the case dismissed with prejudice.”

Whatley said that the League of Municipalities and the Alabama District Attorneys Association have misgivings about his bill and in deference to them, that the bill will be carried over until next week to allow for more time to work with them on their concerns.

“The simple fix for this is that the officer show up and do his job,” Whatley said.

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The motion to carry over SB197 was made, and the committee voted to carry the bill over.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet again next week. The legislation has already passed the Alabama Senate 30 to 0.

Thursday will be day 23 of the 2021 Legislative Session. The Constitution of 1901 limits Alabama to just 30 legislative days in a 105 calendar day period.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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