Dickson residents question traffic fines

Friday, November 7th 2008, 7:05 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

ARDMORE, Okla. -- Small towns all over Oklahoma may be keeping an eye on a lawsuit involving another small town; Dickson, population 1,200, in Carter County.

Six years ago, as required by law, city officials in Dickson recodeified their city ordinances--or did they?

The issue of whether Dickson followed the law is at the center of a lawsuit. Dickson's new ordinances allowed police to impose higher traffic fines--too high, according to some.

"They're probably three time what they are in Ardmore, I mean, you can't hardly afford to pay them," Dickson resident Sue Walters said.

"It cost me $517, it's crazy," Dickson resident Tabitha Eads said. "But, yeah, they're pretty steep, they're steep."

The prices may be steep, but some wonder if they are even legal.

When Dr. Franklin House was ordered to pay $389 for reckless driving, he filed a lawsuit against Dickson, claiming the new ordinances were improperly adopted.

Somehow some of the paperwork was never filed at the Carter County Courthouse.

"Of course we disagree with Dr. House," Dickson attorney Brent Bahner said.

The attorney for Dickson acknowledges some paperwork is missing.

"Of course it's important," Bahner said. "However, we feel that the lawsuit supports this position. That we substantially complied with the statute."

The Dr. House case went all the way to the State Supreme Court--which sent it back to Carter County for further proceedings.

Eads' $517 fine remains a topic of concern.

"I don't expect to get any of that back, I mane, if it happens, cool, right on; I'll have a few extra dollars for the bank so I can put down on a new car," Eads said.

The matter is now in the hands of a Carter County judge. Should the judge rule against Dickson, and then--however unlikely--allow other parties to join the case, Dickson could be looking at having to refund hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The judge in Carter County is expected to issue a ruling soon.