Specialty Plates, Special Treatment

Above the law, that’s how a fired state trooper describes the Florida Legislature. In November on Interstate-10, State Trooper Charles Swindle pulled over State Representative Charles McBurney. Swindle told McBurney he was speeding, going 87 in a 70. McBurney says he wasn’t speeding.

In an exclusive interview, McBurney told Whitney Ray the trooper saw his state legislature specialty plate and asked if he was a lawmaker. He then told McBurney he was going to ignore the speeding violation and ticket him for not having proof of insurance.

“Right behind my drivers license is my proof of insurance which was there all along,” said McBurney.

McBurney says he tried to show Swindle his insurance card.

“So then he said to the effect, look you can pay this find of 250 dollars, the speeding ticket, or you can pay this 10 dollar proof of insurance,” said McBurney.

McBurney complained and Swindle was fired. Now Swindle’s challenging his termination. He says there’s an unspoken rule at FHP to let lawmakers off easy, and he was just trying to cut McBurney a break.

When asked if state lawmakers get special treatment on the roadways, Lt. Col. Ernie Duarte answered, “Absolutely not.”

The calls and emails Swindle’s attorney went unanswered.

On the day McBurney was ticketed another state lawmaker was also pulled over by Swindle. According to the inspector general’s report Swindle also told Representative Mike Clelland, he was doing 87 in a 70 and wrote him a ticket for no proof of insurance.