All charges dropped for driver France UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, This sickens me to know that the police department in Daytona is clearly in the back pockets of the France Family who control pretty much everything in Daytona. Here is a guy caught drunk, with cocaine and racing across a bridge and he gets off 'scot-free'. Like they are trying to do with all racing series they do not own, they ride roughshod over them and squish them like a bug using their power, financial might and political clout. To get off free of charge on such serious matters by some loophole in the law is a travesty. Anonymous
04/23/10 J.C. France, grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., will be behind the wheel of a race car soon, now that a technicality has wiped out the charges lodged against him in an October arrest.
On Thursday, France was reinstated to Grand-Am Road Racing to compete in Rolex Series events after a five-month suspension following his arrest last year by Daytona Beach police.
Grand-Am spokesman Kevin Hinson confirmed that the 44-year-old France was issued a competitor's license earlier this week after a circuit judge granted a motion to suppress all the evidence collected against the race car driver when he was stopped in Holly Hill.
Therein lies the technicality.
France was stopped in Holly Hill by a Daytona Beach cop.
The officer, Charles Fields, initially heard a BOLO (be on the lookout) on the police radio by Daytona Beach Capt. Steve Szabo. The BOLO concerned two cars racing westbound over the Seabreeze Bridge. Police said France, in a 2007 Lamborghini, was racing against his half-brother Russell Van Richmond, who was driving a Porsche Cayenne.
Fields, who was northbound on Ridgewood Avenue, said when he saw France, the latter was running a stoplight at Ridgewood and Mason avenues. Fields said France then headed north on Ridgewood. Richmond had gone in the opposite direction into Daytona Beach and was stopped a few minutes later by a policewoman.
But France's stop was unlawful, said his attorney Mike Lambert, because Fields was outside of his jurisdiction when France was pulled over at the 200 block of Ridgewood Avenue.
According to Fields' report, France smelled of alcohol. The officer also found a baggie with cocaine inside the pricey ride, the report shows. As a result, France was charged with possession of cocaine and DUI and hauled off to the Volusia County Branch Jail.
But the charges evaporated like a cloud of engine exhaust off a racetrack.
Circuit Judge Patrick Kennedy agreed with Lambert, saying that when Fields observed France run a red light at Ridgewood and Mason Avenues, France was already in Holly Hill.
Holly Hill begins at Beach Street and Mason Avenue in the westbound direction off the Seabreeze Bridge. A city engineer confirmed that at a suppression hearing March 22.
"As a general principle, police officers of a municipality have no official power to arrest an offender outside the boundaries of their municipality," Kennedy said in his order. "Obviously, there are exceptions to that general principle; however, none were offered or could be applied to this case."
If Fields had seen France run the red light in Daytona Beach, he could have stopped him in Holly Hill, prosecutor and State Attorney's Office spokesman Chris Kelly said.
Szabo could have stopped him in Holly Hill as well, because the captain initially said he saw France and Richmond racing over the Seabreeze Bridge -- street racing is against state law -- and the bridge is in Daytona Beach.
Kelly further explained that if Fields had observed France commit a felony in Holly Hill, he could have arrested him with a citizen's arrest. Daytona Beach News Journal