A state senator stopped in Zebulon as part of a crackdown on speeders complained to town officials that the stop took too long.
Sen. Don Davis, a Democrat from Snow Hill, was stopped March 31 on U.S. 264 near N.C. 39 as part of a multi-agency traffic checkpoint, Johnny Whitfield reports.
Wendell police Officer Jermaine Thomas stopped Davis’s car at 9:21 a.m. Davis told him he was on his way to Raleigh to attend a legislative committee meeting.
According to Davis, Thomas returned to his police cruiser to issue the citation.
After waiting what he said was a sufficient amount of time for Thomas to write the ticket, Davis approached Thomas’ car and reminded him that he was on his way to a legislative meeting and needed to leave.
Davis told Thomas he wanted to speak to his supervisor. Thomas radioed for Zebulon police Lt. Bob Grossman to respond to the scene.
After Grossman arrived, he spoke with Davis. Thomas gave Davis his speeding ticket — he was cited for driving 84 m.p.h. in a 70-m.p.h. zone. — and Davis was released.
Reached by telephone Friday, Davis said he wondered if there were laws that would allow a member of the state legislature to avoid such traffic citations if they were engaged in public business. He said he addressed that question with Zebulon Town Manager Rick Hardin the afternoon after he got his speeding ticket.
Hardin confirmed that the senator stopped by town hall and voiced concerns about the length of time the traffic stop took.
Hardin referred Davis to police Chief Tim Hayworth.
"I kind of put it in his court," Hardin said. "It’s his issue and that’s where it should be."
As former House member Cary Allred knows, legislators have no special exemption from speeding tickets.
On Monday, Davis said he had spoken with Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny about his concerns. According to Davis, Matheny assured him that police had followed proper procedures during the stop.
Wendell police Chief Vance Johnson said the traffic stop took longer than it otherwise might have because Davis asked to speak to a supervisor. According to Johnson, the citation was issued five minutes after the stop occurred, but Thomas didn’t give Davis the citation until after he had spoken with Grossman.
The traffic checkpoint that snared Davis also brought citations against 35 other speeders. The effort was part of a statewide program through the Governor’s Highway Safety Program called Operation Slow Down/No Need 2 Speed, which netted nearly 16,000 speeding citations over a seven-day period between March 29 and April 4.
Davis, who represents Pitt, Greene and Wayne counties, said his primary concern was the delay in having the citation issued at a time when he was due in a legislative meeting.
"I just felt that it was a delayed kind of thing. It took a while to get the citation. The citation itself was fine. I felt I was waiting to the point that I felt like I needed to go follow up with the officer," Davis said.