Ticket for entering turning lane too soon raises elder's ire

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

Unfair ticket, says Howard Brent, front, of the traffic infraction his grandson, Devin Brent, behind him, was charged with last week. The Guilderland Police Department was practicing “selective enforcement” at the intersection of routes 20 and 155, ticketing drivers who were using a turning lane incorrectly, said Captain Curtis Cox.

GUILDERLAND — Howard Brent believes his grandson, Devin Brent, was unfairly ticketed last week, when he followed a row of cars into a turning lane before the lines marked on the pavement allowed him to be in that lane.

It was Friday, Aug. 16, around 6 p.m., when Brent was pulled over by a Guilderland Police officer for driving into the left-hand turn lane on Route 20 before the marked lines indicated he could.

The ticket he was issued was for a traffic infraction, and the police report stated that he “failed to use the designated lane.”

Brent’s grandfather, who was a passenger in the car at the time, said Brent is a good driver, who took driver’s education and has never been issued a ticket before, and that he was simply going with the flow of traffic.

Following the line of traffic into the turn lane was precisely the problem, though, according Captain Curtis Cox of the Guilderland Police Department.

“There has been a trend, and we have received complaints,” said Cox.

The captain said drivers on Route 20 have been attempting to avoid sitting in traffic at the light by pulling into the lane before they should.

“It can cause an accident if cars are just sitting in the median, because someone who actually plans to turn left might pull into the lane expecting to keep moving, and rear-end the car sitting there,” said Cox.

Howard Brent did not agree with the Guilderland Police Department’s approach to enforcing the proper use of the turning lane, calling the stationing of four police cars on Route 155 by Trusco Bank “Gestapo-like” and saying the department must have issued “hundreds of tickets.”

Cox said he didn’t know exactly how many tickets were handed out at the intersection on Friday, but that it was “several.”

“We decided to do a traffic detail there,” said Cox. He called the process “selective enforcement.”

Howard Brent suggested that, if the problem were so prevalent, it might be prudent to change the pavement markings. Brent claimed traffic could back up as far as the Crossgates Mall entrance if the turning lane were used the way it is now marked.

“I don’t know if it’s the configuration that needs to be changed; it’s a driver issue,” said Cox.

Howard Brent said he wished the police would have issued a warning rather than immediately handing out a ticket.

Devin Brent is expected to appear in court to handle the ticket on Sept. 16, 2013.

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