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Friday, June 3, 2011

 

10-year-old boy gets ticket for not wearing seat belt properly

10-year-old boy gets ticket for not wearing seat belt properly

Leander official says officer made mistake.

 

Miguel Liscano

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Updated: 9:40 a.m. Friday, June 3, 2011

Published: 8:29 p.m. Thursday, June 2, 2011

 

Jay Janner AMERICAN-STATESMAN

 

 

ROUND ROCK — On his way home Tuesday from Jim Plain Elementary School in Leander, fourth-grader Marshall May, sitting in the passenger seat of the family minivan, was ticketed for not wearing his seat belt properly.

Problem is, Texas law says a person must be at least 15 years old to commit such an offense. If a child isn't properly secured by a seat belt, the adult in the car would be at fault, according to the law. But Marshall's aunt, Ashley Arredondo, 19, who was driving, didn't receive a ticket.

"I was really scared, I could tell you that," Marshall said Thursday. "I didn't know what to do.

"He made me sign my signature, but I don't have a signature because I'm 10 years old."

Instead, Marshall printed his full name.

By Thursday, the story landed on Austin talk radio, and reporters began asking questions.

Interim Leander City Manager Robert Powers said Thursday that Marshall should not have been ticketed.

"I think it was just a mistake," Powers said. "It wasn't anything egregious or malicious."

The Police Department has taken procedural steps with the city's municipal court that will likely lead to the ticket's dismissal, Powers said. It will be up to the court to dismiss the ticket.

"I don't know if they requested it be dismissed or if they asked that it be taken into consideration, but that's certainly the intent," Powers said.

Marshall was in the passenger seat when he decided to stick his head out the window for some air, he said. As he stretched, the seat belt slipped up toward his neck and shoulder area, he said.

That's when the police officer pulled over the minivan driven by Arredondo.

After a brief discussion, the officer ticketed Marshall.

"He said: 'You were wearing your seat belt incorrectly. Sorry, but click it or ticket,'" Marshall said.

Police said the boy wasn't properly wearing the belt because it wasn't covering the top of his chest, said Marshall's stepmother, Kristy May.

"I thought it was a joke until I saw the actual ticket," said Marshall's father, Gabriel May. "I didn't think there was any gravity to it whatsoever."

Gabriel May said he's not sure whether the incident will lead to a court visit, but he said he'd show up if necessary.

"I will, because I'm a law-abiding citizen," he said. "I think they should drop it."


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