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Sarasota Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019 2 years ago

Sarasota law enforcement hands out more than 100 school zone tickets

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and Sarasota Police Department gave out a total of 149 citations in the first week back to school.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

It’s back to school time in Sarasota County and with it comes homework, bagged lunches and yes, traffic citations. 

Through the first week of school, the Sarasota Police Department and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office gave out a combined 149 citations for speeding in a school zone — Sarasota police giving out 58 and the sheriff’s office writing 91 countywide. 

The speed limit in all school zones is 15 mph, and school zones are clearly marked to let drivers know when they’re entering and exiting, which is why drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings, said Sarasota traffic officer Jason Frank. 

“We have a lot of pedestrians, bicyclists, parents and kids and teachers walking to and from school in those areas, and it’s important to keep an eye on those things,” Frank said. “The fact that we have so many schools on major roadways, it is important for drivers to be aware. We want to keep students and drivers safe.” 

One way to ensure safety is to know where schools are, and pay attention to all marked signs, Frank said. If a driver is going more than 30 miles over the posted speed limit in a school zone, it results in an automatic court date. 

Of the 149 citations given out in the first week, the sheriff’s department ordered four mandatory court appearances, while Sarasota police ordered one. 

One driver was stopped going 64 mph in a 15 mph zone, which is four times the speed limit, outside Southside Elementary. 

Because each citation comes with a different cost calculated through different government agencies, Frank couldn’t say how much the citations amounted to, however, he said the number was probably substantial. 

Additionally fines, a total of $271, can be accumulated for failing to stop for a school bus. If drivers pass a school bus on the exit side, it results in a mandatory court date. 

Although the number of citations passed 100, Frank said it’s not unusual activity. In fact, school zones are one of the areas officers patrol the most, particularly during peak activity times. 

Toward the end of the 2018-19 school year, one Brentwood Elementary School student was struck and killed while riding his bike on the way to school. Patrolling school zones, Frank said, is a way for officers to prevent similar occurrences. 

“School zones are one of the major things we concentrate on,” Frank said. “This isn’t something we just do on the first week of school, it’s consistent to what we do weekly throughout the school year.”

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