Though a Washington State Patrol spokesman recently told us the agency can't ticket state lawmakers during the legislative session, some lawmakers say they've still gotten hit with citations.
Several state legislators told me they have gotten speeding tickets despite the state constitution's clause protecting legislators from arrest and "any civil process" during legislative sessions.
From state Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds:
@melissasantos1 One was in front of the Capitol, I noted the irony, still got the ticket. The other wrote the ticket before I said anything.— Marko Liias (@MarkoLiias) September 16, 2013
Former state Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, said she was also ticketed once by a State Patrol trooper for speeding on her way to the Capitol. It was "the only ticket I've ever got for speeding," she wrote in an email to The News Tribune.
Regala said she didn't mention to the trooper she was a state senator, which she described as "bad form."
State Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, also said he's received tickets from law enforcement officers before. Kline said he didn't know the state constitution's provision protecting lawmakers from arrest could also be construed apply to civil traffic tickets.
"I could have saved myself a couple tickets and a lot of money on insurance," Kline said in an interview earlier this month.
Rep. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, said he thinks police are generally more likely to cite legislators when they pull them over than the average driver, though he said he's never been stopped by a member of the State Patrol.
"If you're a legislator, you’re way more likely to be given a speeding ticket if you get stopped," Kirby said. "That’s been my experience."
Legislators also may not be immune from receiving tickets from traffic cameras posted at red-light intersections or in school zones, judging by Kirby's experience. Court records show Kirby received a traffic ticket in Lakewood in late June 2013, while the Legislature was still finishing a second special session.
Kirby said that ticket was from an automated camera in a school zone, and he received the citation in the mail after the legislative session ended.
"I sent them the money, because I figure they must need the money," Kirby said last week.
Like our article noted, different police agencies interpret the state constitution differently regarding whether or not it bars them from ticketing state lawmakers.
The State Patrol had this to say today on Twitter in response to our article and some angry reaction from the Twittersphere:
.@gerrytweeter We believe the right thing is troopers honoring their oath to uphold the constitution. And it really doesn't come up much.— WA State Patrol (@wastatepatrol) September 16, 2013