Two Addison County teens have been assessed $633 in fines and court costs for driving more than 90 miles per hour on U.S 7 in New Haven.
Elliot C. Nezin, 16, of Lincoln and Jonathan M. Armell, 16, of North Ferrisburgh both initially ignored traffic tickets issued by Vermont State Police, according to Vermont Judicial Bureau records.
Hearing Officer Howard Kalfus imposed the $613 waiver fine on Nezin and Armell and added a $20 surcharge for each case, court records show.
State police said the two teens also are due in Vermont Family Court in Middlebury on Dec. 1 to respond to a charge of a delinquent act by negligent operation. Juvenile proceedings in Family Court are confidential.
State Trooper Chris Hein reported both drivers were northbound in a row on U.S. 7 in a 50-mph zone near Town Hill Road in New Haven about 11:16 a.m. Monday Sept. 21. State police were conducting special motor vehicle enforcement under a highway safety grant when the teens were stopped, Hein said.
The Judicial Bureau records show “defendant failed to answer” in both cases and a default judgment was entered for each on Oct. 20. Armell eventually offered a no contest plea and paid the $633 assessment, records show.
Nezin still owes the $633, the Judicial Bureau reported Thursday. His case will be referred to the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles for action, the bureau said.
Under a gag order from Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling on Sept. 11, state police have been directed to withhold the name of teen-agers involved in fatal and major crashes and other series traffic offenses on public highways.
The names of the two drivers, however, are public record through the Vermont Judiciary.
The temporary gag order also is contrary to the transparency required under the Vermont Constitution, Vermont Public Records Law, and the rules covering the Vermont DMV.
The written directive also appears to require state police to withhold the names of teens that are victims of homicides and other crimes, drownings, or if they are abducted, lost, overdue or missing.
Schirling’s gag order was sparked after a 16-year-old girl drove her truck over the double yellow line on U.S. 7 in Charlotte and killed an elderly Ferrisburgh couple in a head-on crash on Sept. 8, state police have said.
State police said the office of ChIttenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George ordered troopers to withhold the name of the teen driver from the public, but two days later after appeals on behalf of the media and others, police identified Isabel Jennifer Seward, 16, of Atlanta, Ga. as the driver of the Vermont-registered truck. Seward was in Vermont visiting nearby relatives.
The second driver, Chester Hawkins, 73, tried to take evasive action by pulling his car toward the breakdown lane, but was still struck by the truck, police said. They said he and his wife, Connie Hawkins, 72, died from massive injuries from the crash.
Both George and defense lawyer Brooks McArthur on behalf Seward, a two-sport athlete, protested the release of the Seward’s name, Schirling later said, and that led to the temporary gag order while the Attorney General’s Office was consulted.
Attorney General T.J. Donovan told the media last week the accident information is public, but any possible juvenile court proceedings would need to be confidential. Eight weeks after the crash, Schirling’s temporary gag order remains in place.
Schirling said he has not received a written response from Donovan’s office and has been told they had “an excessive workload.” Donovan’s criminal division also is short-handed.