Speeders get choice in W.Va. town: ticket or buy toy for needy c - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Speeders get choice in W.Va. town: ticket or buy toy for needy child

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Speeders, and other traffic violators, in Ranson, W.Va., are being presented an unusual choice this holiday season: fight the ticket, pay the fine, or buy a toy. If the accused motorist buys the toy, the ticket melts away.

In the small town of Ranson, the speed limit on most streets is 25 miles an hour. It's not hard, however, for motorists to go faster than that as they come down the hill on Fifth Avenue. In just a few minutes on a weekday afternoon, the rear-facing radar in Officer Adam Watson's cruiser detected several cars traveling well over the limit, including a white pickup truck, which was chased and then pulled over.

"The violation was speeding," Watson told us after stopping the accused speeder. "[The motorist was driving] 15 above the speed limit, [driving at] 40 in a 25 mile-per-hour zone."

In West Virginia, a conviction for traveling 15 or more miles per hour over the posted limit is a five-point slam against your driver's license.

But motorist Jamie Newman caught a break. The citing officer explained he has the regular two options: contest the ticket in court or plead guilty and pay the fine. And for now there's a third option: buy a toy for a needy family in town.

The police department in Ranson calls it the Slow Down For the Holidays campaign. Violators can choose to buy a toy for a three to six-year-old boy or girl, and bring it to the police station. If they do so, the ticket melts away. But it's got to be a $40 toy.

"They have to bring the receipt in with them," explained Police Chief Bill Roper.

Over the month-long campaign, at least 500 toys are collected in Ranson, W.Va.

Individuals who didn't get a ticket also bring in toys -- as donations to the campaign. And people and civic groups also donate cash, which the police department uses to purchase wrapping paper for the needy families who get the toys.

This is the tenth year that police in Ranson have offered the $40 toy option for accused traffic violators. The accused speeders have one day to decide whether to take the unusual deal.

Ticketed motorist Jamie Newman shook his head and told us in an interview: "I mean, it's kind of a no-brainer.”

“You're going to buy the toy?” we asked.

“It's either that or pay, like, $150,” Newman said.

“So, you're taking the deal?” we asked.

“Yeah,” he said.

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