Georgia Helmet Law: "0"
by Dave Dismakes
I never thought I would actually be happy to receive a helmet citation. That is, until early one Wednesday morning as I made my way onto the military installation where I am stationed.
As I entered the post along with the nearly 18,000 soldiers, I was alarmed when I heard a car horn and looked back to see flashing lights of my favorite, local city police officer, pointing for me to pull over. This I knew, would be the third helmet citation within eight months. I couldn't help but thinking to myself, "This guy has made this thing personal now!" That's when I set my sites on "Getting Even!"
After giving my third citation for allegedly violating GA Code 40?6?315, he confiscated my lid and got back into his cage and went on his way. I had always heard and read about the helmet law fight, but had never had the opportunity to be a participant. Last April I got my chance to "Fight Back." When the judge asked if I had anything to say, I blurted out my rehearsed speech, NO LIST, NO LAW!!! The judge dismissed the case telling me to get with the citing police of officer to ensure my helmet complies with the law.
I went to the desk sergeant and asked for a copy of GA Code 40?6?315. I then wrote to the Department of Public Safety for the State of Georgia. Under the Freedom of Information Act I requested a copy of the approved helmets list they are required to publish as stated in GA Code
40?6?315. Two weeks later, I received a letter from the Georgia State Patrol, Department of Public Safety stating that there has never been such a list that was signed by the State Coordinator.
My second trip to see the honorable judge ended just like the first after showing him the letter I had received. I felt assured then, that I had won the war and wouldn't be bothered by this same of officer again. I was wrong.
Returning to my of office, after citation number three, I began calling ABATE of Georgia, and was referred to Tony Sanfelipo, "TonyPan", of Jacobson & Hupy. I have never met anyone who took as much interest in my fight for justice as Tony. After talking with TonyPan, I left my of office for the day and headed straight for the Internal Affairs Office of the City's Police Department to file a formal complaint against the of officer, per Pan's advice.
I filled out the form and then wrote a letter to the Mayor. I went to his of office and asked to see him personally. I explained my situation, about having been cited three times by the same officer for the same thing and that I felt I was being harassed and requested that this officer be removed from the force to avoid further cost and embarrassment to the city and defacement of the law enforcement profession.
I told the Mayor, "If I were the judge, and had dismissed this case twice already and the SAME officer brings in the SAME person for the THIRD time for the SAME thing, I would wonder, does he respect my judgment? How DARE him to challenge ME the JUDGE Well, that was about all the Mayor had to hear.
While I sat there in his leather chair, wearing my blue jeans and Harley T-shirt, he called the Chief of Police. I knew the Mayor was on my side when I heard him say, "I'm ready to rip this guys uniform offend kick his *$%& across the city. I can't believe he has been to court twice with this guy, had it thrown out and then ticket him again for the same thing." He added, "Listen here, don't any of you write ANYMORE helmet tickets in my city, I don't care if they're wearing cellophane on their head. You need to have that cop put this guy's helmet on a pillow and deliver it to his house and apologize personally."
He hung up the phone and apologized on behalf of the city and told me not to even worry about showing up to court on that following Tuesday. I couldn't believe my ears.... I had finally won.
(David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).