Parents fined for children not wearing bike helmets

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Quite a few parents in Orange County got a ticket last month, not for speeding or running a red light, but because their child was not wearing a bicycle helmet, Channel 9's Cierra Putman learned.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said it issued 60 citations in October, 20 more citations than it did all of 2015.

"That's crazy. I still think that's ridiculous. I mean $62.50 for not wearing a helmet,” Shaimarie Franqui said.

“I say that’s just about safety,” Julady Medina said.

Legacy Middle, Union Park Elementary, Union Park Middle and Discovery Middle schools all posted on social media the Orange County Sheriff’s Office was enforcing the law. In Florida, it’s illegal for a child younger than 16 to ride a bicycle without a helmet. The penalty is a fine of $62.50 unless a guardian can prove he or she bought a helmet within 30 days.

Ashleigh Cooper, whose son attends Discovery Middle School, said she didn’t receive any warning before the sheriff’s office started enforcing the law.

“I feel the whole situation is an attempt to pad the bank account of the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.” Cooper wrote via Facebook. “When we first received a call from the principal regarding the situation I assumed the kids received a written warning … Then when I received the citation in the mail I was beyond furious.”

A spokesperson with the sheriff’s office told Eyewitness News that people can avoid having to pay a ticket the first time if they can prove they have a helmet.

Lt. Victor Payne said his deputies won't stop enforcing the law.

"We are going to continue enforcing,” Payne said.

Some parents told Eyewitness News that deputies should have sent a warning first, but Putman found several schools started warning parents on social media.

"When their child gets hit by a car, is there a warning? At some point we have to do something,” Payne said.

Eyewitness News learned the school resource officer at Union Park Elementary got helmets donated for every kid who doesn't have a helmet.

The Florida Department of Transportation said there are nearly 100 child biking accidents in Orange County alone.

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