Lakewood ended functions prior to collecting $450K in traffic fines

Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 6:32pm

The former satellite City of Lakewood, dissolved and incorporated into Metro through a narrow public referendum vote in March, ceased operations with $450,000 in outstanding traffic tickets and related court costs.

As a result, lacking the pertinent government body to pay their fines, hundreds of former Lakewood citizens and others are likely driving with suspended driver’s licenses, putting offenders in line to go to jail if police pull them over.

“It’s a huge mess,” said Metro Councilman Darren Jernigan, who represents the Old Hickory-area that includes Lakewood’s former boundaries.

“There’s people driving around with suspended driver’s licenses right now, and I don’t think they know it,” he said.

In all, at least 1,200 traffic fines weren’t paid, though some offenders likely accumulated multiple fines. Not all violators are Davidson County residents.

Previously, when the city had a municipal charter, Lakewood had its own police force, which enforced individual Lakewood laws and speed limits. Lakewood also collected its own traffic fines. But after the city officially surrendered its charter May 28, there has been no entity to collect the fines.

Metro Department of Law attorney Tom Cross said the issue involves adjudicated tickets that led Lakewood officials to send notice to the state of Tennessee that fines hadn’t been paid. The state has the authority to suspend driver’s licenses.

“Their licenses were suspended,” Cross said. “There’s a whole group of people out there who are kind of in limbo trying to get their licenses back because they can’t go back to Lakewood to pay the fine.”

Under Lakewood’s dissolution, Metro assumed all the satellite city’s assets and liabilities. Metro has the authority to collect the funds that had been owed to Lakewood through fines.

But a resolution sponsored by Jernigan and Sean McGuire, the council’s Budget and Finance Committee chair, would waive the fines and court costs, and disclaim interest Metro could collect from them.

“We were not able to find a clear demonstration that the violations had ever been made part of the Lakewood code,” Cross said. “We spoke with the city attorney, and we spoke to other sources who were available to us. We could never be certain that the fines and fees had all been adopted the way they would have to be in order for us to be comfortable in enforcing them.

“With that discomfort, it is probably not in Metro’s best interest to pursue them,” he said.

Citing advice from the Metro Finance Department, Cross added that the cost to pursue fines –– tracking down out-of-state violators, for example –– would likely exceed the cost in fees.

The council resolution, requiring one vote, goes before the council Oct. 4.  

14 Comments on this post:

By: Shadow63 on 9/29/11 at 8:18

Yeah, what's $450 grand more or less?
Turn it over to me and I'll give them $.25 on the dollar for everything I collect.

By: Charlie Sommers. on 9/30/11 at 5:29

Lakewood was notorious for their speeding tickets. Three or four mph over the limit seemed to be all it took. I drive through there quite often and have not noticed any increase in the speed of the average driver so it would seem that the only purpose the fines served was to enrich the coffers of the city.

Sayonara Lakewood police department.

By: oldhickorytony on 9/30/11 at 5:57

Kudos to Jernigan and McGuire. 450k in fines is sullied blood money.

Yep! It would seem the ugly, stinking, zombied corpse of the Lakewood govt is still haunting Davidson County, refusing to lie down for the final time and die.

I can't imagine that very many of the revoked licenses for unpaid fines belong to Lakewood residents.

Yep... you guessed it... I've gotten tickets in Lakewood... but you should also know that I'm an almost 60 year old guy who's never gotten a speeding ticket anywhere else other than Lakewood.

Part of their racket was they'd make you pay the actual speeding fine plus (if you needed it off your record) then they also made you pay for their driving school. It wasn't pay for one or the other. It was pay for both.

During the waning weeks of Lakewood, when they knew they were out of appeals, Lakewood cops were out again in full force and trying to write every ticket they possibly could. It was partially in order to better fund the severance checks of Lakewood employees. But I'm pretty sure it was also because they knew they'd never again get to experience and feel the sheer power and joy of harassing helpless victims.

Lay down and die, Lakewood... and let us finally rest in peace...

By: richgoose on 9/30/11 at 6:09

I just happened to have an introduction to a Lakewood official around five years ago. I was so unimpressed with the intellect of this person that I said to the fellow making the introduction. "This city is probably better off with Al Capone running the city than this fellow."

By: girliegirl on 9/30/11 at 6:45

10 miles over the limit would net you $176 ticket....the receipt is STILL in my wallet after 3 years...and a reminder to never ever ever do that again. Even off duty Metro police officers have been ticketed and were unable to get out of the fines. And it should be noted, with a speeding violation in Metro, you are able to go before the court and plead your case. With Lakewood, we all knew that was a fruitless endeavor, so everyone paid the cash.

By: RenaissanceWoman on 9/30/11 at 7:16

Here's a tip for getting your money back. Start fining the "sagging pants" crew. You'll wipe out the debt in no time.

By: BigPapa on 9/30/11 at 7:24

It's worth giving up $450 grand to be done with Lakewood. That place was a joke, a bad joke.

By: Nitzche on 9/30/11 at 7:41

reminds me of belle meade, another satellite city

By: macjedi on 9/30/11 at 8:04

Oh, it has been a while since I basked in the glory that is the death of the civic entity of Lakewood... allow me a moment...




Okay. That felt good.

So. Corrupt little Barney-Fife greed-pot of a town writes a bunch of bogus tickets and then they never collect. BIG SHOCK! It is LAKEWOOD! I say Metro is well within their rights to laugh off these jackasses and the last flailing remains of their slumped carcass. The state should follow suit and NOT act against any of those "offenders".

Oh one more thing. The unanimous anti-Lakewood sentiment here is proof enough that I am, gloriously, not alone in my distaste for that entity.

Rot in Hell, Lakewood.

By: freespeaker29 on 9/30/11 at 8:35

First off, Lakewood wasn't a speed trap. A speed trap is when the speed makes an abrupt decrease and officers do enforcement at that point. The speed limit is 45 from Dupont to Hermitage. Second, the speed limit is what it is, a LIMIT. All you that say you went 3 miles over or whatever, well, in what other area of life do you know where there are limits, when which you break, you don't suffer a penalty. Sure, I break the limit too, but if I get caught, I pay the penalty. For the person complaining about Metro officers getting tickets and not getting out of them, well, if they did, you'd be the first to complain that their police and should be held to a higher standard. Lastly, is licenses are suspended, they should be. Its the fault of the violator for not satisfying their citation. None of this could have been after the fact. For a DL to be suspended the court clerk must send in notice to the state, so that means any tickets due after the dissolvement of Lakewood would have not been sent in. So the only ones suspended would have been the ones just didn't follow through while Lakewood was an active city. And, had everyone had their current address on their license as the law requires, they would have received notice of suspension as the law requires so if someone is not aware their license is suspended, it's their own fault.

By: NewYorker1 on 9/30/11 at 9:40

With such strict driving laws, why don't they have better public transportation so people don't have to drive?

By: freespeaker29 on 9/30/11 at 10:05

What's strict? Do you not have speed limits where you live? Do they not make you pay the tickets when you get them? The public transportation does suck, but, its based on rider ship and as much as people complain about it, they didn't use it enough when they had it. Plus, were to busy sinking money into buildings that the mayor can put his name on than worry about public services.

By: on 9/30/11 at 11:36

I hear both sides of this argument and..........I think I like the Lakewood rot in Hell one.

By: macjedi on 10/10/11 at 8:24

Everyone give a standing O to NY1 for an EXCELLENT POINT.

And thanks, Judy!