TAKOMA PARK, M.d. (FOX 5 DC) - In one Maryland town, there’s a chance if you get pulled over by an officer for a broken light, you might also get some money to have it fixed.
As of this week, officers in Takoma Park will be able to use their discretion to hand out vouchers to residents they pull over for broken lights on their cars in a program called Lights On.
If a Takoma Park officer pulls you over for a broken car light, they’ll typically hand you an order that requires you to get it fixed and tell the state within 30 days. But now, the officer may hand over a voucher that enables you to get it fixed for free up to $250.
The University of Maryland Police Department is the only other department in the state that does this. The program is part of a micro-grant.
One officer FOX 5 spoke with on Thursday says the biggest factor for him is how friendly and contrite the person he pulled over may be.
FOX 5 was also there with Corporal Thomas Sims as he handed out Takoma Park’s first voucher today.
Kevin Jones is the driver who was pulled over. He tells FOX 5 he loves the idea of the program and will take advantage of it.
" I think it’s awesome because I’m sure this happens all the time to drivers at the moment because you can’t see your front light when you’re driving," says Jones. "So I think it’s great, and you save a little money too."
Police say this has many benefits, but anything that creates a positive interaction between officers and the public is a plus. It could also save people money from unexpected costs and keeps the community at large safer.
There’s only one body shop, for now, where this is eligible. Takoma Park police say they’re open to adding more. The owner there tells FOX 5 that the average cost of the simplest light fix is around $15.