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Woodstock PD center-lane enforcement

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Woodstock PD center-lane enforcement

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 16, 2013

The June traffic initiative of the Woodstock Police Department is to nail violators of the center lane on Route 47. It's about time. How many drivers cut around stopped cars to enter the left-turn lane?

This is a huge and dangerous problem, and I'm glad to see that Woodstock Police will concentrate on it. However, like many other traffic enforcement issues, addressing it one ticket at a time will not solve the problem. But it's a start.

How about using the mobile electronic bulletin board, too? Put up a message: "Obey center-lane laws." That's short enough not to distract a driver. Move the trailer around. Use it in both directions on Route 47. (It could also be used for seatbelt enforcement, rather than wasting the time (overtime pay!) of officers to write those pesky tickets.)

What intersections will get attention?

Northbound and Southbound Eastwood Drive @ Lake Avenue
Southbound Eastwood Dr. @ McConnell Road
Northbound Eastwood Dr. @ Country Club Road
Northbound Eastwood Dr. @ Irving Avenue
Northbound Eastwood Dr. @ McHenry Ave. (Afternoon Shift)

Drivers will be especially interested in this statement in the announcement on the PD's website: "Officers will adopt a zero tolerance for median violations while the outcome of the stop will remain at the officer’s discretion."

A-ha! How will an officer decide who gets a ticket and who gets a warning?

I remember one clear example of abuse of discretion by the Woodstock PD. An officer offered me a warning for a headlight that had been burned out for 10 miles and 15 minutes on a cold January night. That was fair, since I had documented numerous headlight problems on my car and had them repaired on the following day. But then a second officer showed up and reminded him of an order at the PD that, if I got stopped, I got a ticket - no warning.

So it was a case of reverse abuse of discretion. The first officer exercised discretion and common sense. I never found out how high up the order at the PD originated.

During an "initiative", should there be any discretion? Will the $1,000-suit driver of the new, clean Cadillac with Bull Valley Golf Club plates get a warning? Will the guy with the old pick-up truck for his lawn service get a ticket? Care to make a guess?

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