EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 10, 2013

Patrick's travel ban controversial, but effective

Area police officials credit the governor's threat with being a great deterrent to travel

Nobody is going to get fined or do any jail time for defying Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s 24-hour travel ban during the blizzard that belted the Merrimack Valley with up to two feet or more of snow over the past two days.

Area police departments reported stopping several people who shouldn’t have been out on the roads driving during between 4 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. yesterday.

But none of those drivers got cited for violating the governor’s orders. So, they didn’t face the stiff sanctions of a $500 fine and up to a year in jail.

“A few of them received a stern warning to get off the road if they didn’t have a good reason to be driving,” Andover Police Lt. John Pathiakis said yesterday. He noted that town police officers stopped “about 10 to 15 cars” over the time of the ban.

“They were questioned as to why they were out on the road. If the reason for their being on the road was not acceptable, they were advised to get off the road. It’s tough to go further with it, other than to explain to them they shouldn’t be on the road. I believe the stern warning had done the trick in most cases,” he said.

The governor’s controversial ban generated more than 600 comments on The Eagle-Tribune’s website yesterday, many of them highly critical of the governor’s threat of stiff consequences for violators.

“No need to threaten people with fines and jail time. No other states threatened their citizens. The guy’s a jerk. Could have put a ban without a threat,” wrote one irate reader.

Another reader found it “insulting that we are threatened” with a $500 fine. Adding, “Most people that get into trouble don’t get jail time!”

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