NEW ORLEANS -- For kids it's back to school on Thursday, and for parents there's a growing controversy over new school zone hours. One New Orleans driver got a ticket even though the times on the school zone sign were wrong.
Debra Rauschkolb says back in September an officer gave her a ticket at 3:50 p.m. She was driving 35 miles per hour at the intersection of Robert E. Lee and Louis XIV, near Mount Carmel Academy.
“I asked him why was he stopping me, that the school zone is 3:45 p.m. and it's past 3:45,” she said. “He told me, no, it's 4:45 p.m.”
According to the ordinance that went into effect Aug. 1, the school zone in fact does not end until 4:45 p.m.
But that's not what the sign said when Rauschkolb was given the ticket.
The city sent out a press release the first week of August. It clearly states that traffic tickets will only be issued if the school zone signs and beacons have been updated to reflect the new times.
So we reached out to the mayor's office, but spokesman Ryan Berni spokesman said he could not comment on this specific case.
The NOPD sent the following response to Debra’s ticket:
"The city widely broadcast (on television and in the newspaper) what the new school zone times were, and when they would take effect. Police officers enforce current, valid law. That's their job. The driver has every right to appeal the ticket.”
But even though the sign has been changed and the NOPD says Debra can contest the ticket, she has already been to court once and has to go back in December if she wants to appeal it.
“An injustice has been done because I even spoke to him about how I drive this way for three years, and it's always been 3:45 p.m.”
The city was quick to update the sign after we contacted them and said it was the only sign they were aware of that had not been changed.
We recently got reports of a few other signs that have not been updated – one on Esplanade and Maurepas and another on Elysian Fields near Brother Martin High School.
We alerted the city but have not gotten a response yet.