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City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said a Queens traffic court judge has dismissed a ticket given to him last month by a Whitestone traffic agent whom the councilman spotted driving recklessly and running stop signs along 150th Street.
An administrative judge told Halloran he did not have to pay the ticket after having reviewed photos, video and written testimony from the scene of the incident, which took place June 14 along 150th Street in Whitestone.
It was ruled that the councilman’s vehicle was idling, not parked, and that his license plates prohibit him from getting parking tickets while on Council duty.
In addition, the city Police Department has punished traffic agent Daniel Chu by cutting his vacation time, taking away his NYPD vehicle, forcing him to undergo sensitivity training and relocating him to a different section of Queens that has yet to be disclosed.
“The streets of Whitestone are a better place today, now that this agent has been removed from them,” Halloran said. “I am happy that my own bogus ticket was dismissed. But my ticket is just the tip of the iceberg. Agent Chu has written countless questionable tickets as today’s court ruling shows. I am calling for every outstanding ticket he has written to be dismissed.”
On June 14, the councilman and a staff member were driving along 150th Street when they spotted Chu talking on his cell phone while speeding down the street with his siren on. The agent drove recklessly and then parked illegally in front of a crosswalk on Clintonville Street while he went into a Dunkin’ Donuts store and bought an iced coffee.
Halloran followed the agent in his car and approached him as he left the coffee shop. The councilman was then handed a $155 ticket for blocking the pedestrian ramp.
He argued that his car was idling and that Chu’s vehicle was blocking the sidewalk. The Queens traffic court judge sided with the councilman.
At the time of the incident, Halloran recorded Chu’s actions with his iPhone.
An NYPD spokesman said Chu would not be available for an interview.
The councilman said his office has been flooded with calls from northeast Queens residents who said they had been ticketed by Chu. One told him the agent had ticketed mourners who were loading a coffin into a vehicle for a funeral, while another said she was given a summons while loading groceries into her car, which was running.
During an internal NYPD review, Chu admitted he was speeding and talking on his cell phone at the time of the incident with Halloran, the councilman said. He also said he had parked illegally in front of Dunkin’ Donuts.
“Ticket agents are here to make our streets safer, not to raise money or to abuse the taxpayers who pay their salaries,” said Halloran, who will introduce legislation to require a five-minute grace period for double-parking. “Over-ticketing has been a scourge of New York City neighborhoods for years now. It is an obnoxious and irresponsible way to raise money for the city.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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