Lt. Scott Stevenson is head of the Traffic Enforcement Unit
Since Waterbury Police Chief Michael Gugliotti formed the Traffic Enforcement Unit last August, well over one thousand tickets have been issued to motorists. Most city residents have been pleased that something is being done to improve safety in their neighborhoods.
“The response we’ve received from people has been very positive” Chief Gugliotti said. “Whenever we asked community groups what their biggest concerns were, the same two issues kept being repeated throughout the city; blight and motor vehicle complaints. The Waterbury Police Department is committed to address both issues.”
Obviously not everyone is happy to see these officers, especially if you’re on the receiving end of a ticket.
“The goal of the traffic unit is to improve safety through voluntary compliance to traffic laws.” said Lt. Scott Stevenson, head of the unit. “It would be nice if we could just ask motorists to drive slower or put down the phone but we know that doesn’t usually work. Although police officers don’t enjoy handing them out, tickets are an effective tool in changing driving habits. “
According to Chief Gugliotti, the officers assigned to the unit have been concentrating on the most dangerous of driving behaviors, such as excessive speed, distracted driving and drunk driving. While doing so, they have noticed a significant number of other motor vehicle violations.
Stevenson concurred. “During many traffic stops the officers are finding vehicles that are not properly registered or insured, don’t display both license plates or have windows that are tinted much darker than allowed by law.” Stevenson said. “The window tint is a serious safety issue, especially at night, because it prevents the driver from seeing out effectively.”
If a vehicle’s windows are tinted after it leaves the factory Connecticut law requires that it be checked and certified by the DMV. Windows that are within compliance will receive a small sticker. Regardless of whether you pay someone to tint your windows or do it yourself, the current owner of the vehicle is responsible for making sure this sticker is on. Not having a sticker on a tinted window will cost you $136. Likewise, having tint that is too dark is an additional fine of $136.
Another issue the police see frequently is the lack of a valid insurance card for the car. Connecticut law says you have to insure you car and have proof of it in the car at all times. In many cases the car may be insured but the card is expired or missing.
“Most people don’t realize that unless you have a valid insurance card in the car, the officer has the right to assume it has no insurance and can impound and tow it even though it may actually be insured,” Stevenson said.
In that case you will have to bring proof of insurance to the impound lot before they will release it to you. Unlike violations such as speeding and dark tint, you can’t simply pay a fine for not having insurance. It is a misdemeanor crime and you will get a summons to go to court where a prosecutor or judge will impose the fine and potential jail time. Last year the department investigated over 1400 hit and run accidents.
“Most drivers flee because they have no insurance, registration or driver’s license. This leaves responsible citizens on the hook for medical and repair bills, through higher insurance premiums. Therefore, we’ll continue to do all we can to get these people and their cars off the road,” Stevenson said.
Residents with a concern about traffic safety issues in their neighborhoods are encouraged to contact the Traffic Enforcement Unit at 203-574-6962. They are also available to come speak to groups about traffic safety.