Cops to use vouchers instead of traffic tickets

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Chief Sinagra explains the benefits of Lights On!

 SAUGERTIES –A movement born after the death of a motorist pulled over by police for a faulty tail light, Lights On!, is teaming up with the Saugerties Police Department.  Under the program, repair vouchers replace tickets for faulty bulbs on a vehicle.

Sherman Patterson, program director for Lights On!, a community-based program that gives a better understanding of what can go wrong when gunfire erupts over a minor violation, such as a bad light bulb, said that Philandro Castile was shot by police in Minnesota in 2016 after being stopped for a faulty light.  The encounter resulted in the formation of Lights On!

Lights On! is helping the Town of Saugerties Police Department to offer vouchers to cover those light bulb violations – while building and maintaining a friendly relationship with the community, according to Patterson.  When an officer stops a vehicle for a faulty light, they can write a ticket or issue a Lights On! voucher.

 “When the officer comes out with that voucher,” said Patterson, “everything gets better.”

The program is funded through micro-grants from CSX, matched by the town, and Saugerties is the first police department in New York to offer it.  It will be an officer’s discretion to offer the voucher instead of citing the driver for the violation.

 “There’s no points on the license,” said Police Chief Joe Sinagra. “They are not going to get a fine.”

The program is aimed at struggling motorists, said Sinagra “who are forced to decide between repairing the vehicle or putting food on the table or buying diapers for the baby.”

Sawyer Motors and Steyer’s Hudson Valley Auto will repair vehicles of those with vouchers. Tim Hines, a tow truck driver for Steyer’s, said “this is a worthwhile program to help many who need it. It helps out those who are less fortunate,” adding “You don’t have to spend any money.”