UF quarterback Richardson faces fine of about $375 in speeding case, based on review of similar tickets across Florida

By

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson is expected in a courtroom Wednesday to learn what punishment a judge might hand down if he were convicted of speeding 105 mph. A review of similar traffic cases across Florida indicates he likely would be fined a few hundred dollars and would not lose his license.

Richardson – whose agent has been pursuing six- and seven-figure endorsement deals under new NCAA rules allowing athletes to earn money from their name, image and likeness – has pleaded not guilty in the case. An Alachua County sheriff’s deputy, Eric Pai, ticketed Richardson at 4:11 a.m. on April 4 for driving 105 mph despite the road’s 60 mph speed limit.

On the deputy’s body camera video, Richardson, 19, of Gainesville acknowledged driving at least 100 mph and said he wasn’t sure how fast he was going. He replied to the deputy’s question about his speed, saying: “I’m not sure, probably like a hundred or something.” He later publicly apologized for speeding and promised his teammates he would work not to embarrass the organization again.

Richardson’s lawyer, Richard Buzan of Gainesville, did not return emails or phone calls to discuss the case.

A line on the ticket said Richardson’s copper-colored 2021 Dodge Charger was caught on radar driving 105 mph on a remote stretch of a divided, four-lane highway with a 60 mph limit about 12 miles west of the university’s campus. Elsewhere on the same ticket, it said Richardson was driving “in excess of” 105 mph but did not specify a faster speed.

Under the new NCAA rules allowing players to accept payments, Richardson signed a deal in November with a local Dodge dealership that provides him with a 2021 Dodge SUV or its equivalent with an option to exchange it every three to six months through the 2023 season. Richardson told the deputy that morning he was driving one of the dealership’s cars.

Richardson could have been ticketed for driving faster than 105 mph, but the deputy’s pickup that briefly pursued him couldn’t go any faster, according to the sheriff’s video. The agency’s Ford Police Responder F150 pickups are governed to drive no faster than 105 mph. 

Under Florida law, driving at least 50 mph over the limit would have resulted in a mandatory $1,000 fine and could have resulted in a judge suspending Richardson’s license. Fines for speeding at least 30 mph over the limit can reach up to $1,000 but are frequently lower, and a judge could suspend his license.

A review of millions of traffic violations across Florida in recent years identified at least 62 cases in which drivers who were not star college quarterbacks also were ticketed for speeding exactly 105 mph with a 60 mph limit. Those cases also involved no crashes, injuries, deaths or property damage, all with no prior traffic offenses.

It’s not clear whether the judge in Gainesville this week would be unusually lenient or tough on one of the city’s most famous athletes if Richardson were convicted.

“He could be a Bull Gator, and he could do anything he wants,” said David Robbins, a Jacksonville traffic lawyer for nearly 50 years. “The judge has discretion basically to do whatever they feel like.”

Penalties in these other cases involving the exact same speeds ranged from fines as low as $356 up to $392. In some of the cases, but not all, judges ordered the drivers to attend traffic school. None lost their license.

For example: 

  • Andres Fernand Hernandez, 22, of Miami received a 105 mph citation in Miami-Dade County in January 2020 and pleaded no contest, according to court records. He paid $392 in fines and was not ordered to attend traffic school. The court tacked on a $16 late fee in September 2021, and he paid the ticket a week later.
  • Kamala Cameron Gipson, 35, of Largo, Florida, was ticketed driving a pickup at 8 a.m. at 105 mph on a state highway in April 2020 by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. She pleaded no contest in May 2020, was ordered to complete 12 hours of traffic school and paid $356 in fines and fees.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol caught Amen Coo Montana, 30, of Ocoee, Florida, driving 105 mph on Interstate 4 near Orlando in his Mercedes at 4:59 a.m. in May 2020. In addition to speeding, the trooper also ticketed Montana for aggressive driving and for providing a false name during the traffic stop. He pleaded no contest, paid $387 in fines and fees and was not ordered to attend traffic school, according to court records. 
  • Ashlie Nicole Haunty, 35, of Jacksonville pleaded guilty in October 2020 in Baker County to driving 105 mph the day after Christmas 2019. She was fined $379 in fines and fees, and instructed to attend driving school. The judge also ordered her to send handwritten letters about her speeding to two newspapers.
  • The highway patrol ticketed Lauren Ashley Moore, 23, of Archer, Florida, in October 2020 for driving 105 mph on U.S. 301. She pleaded guilty two months later in Marion County Circuit Court and paid $356 in fines and fees and did not have to attend driving school.

Robbins, the traffic lawyer, said it was also possible that Richardson could be acquitted, despite his apparent admission on video and his public apology for speeding. Robbins said the quarterback’s lawyer could challenge the precision or operation of the radar device used to clock Richardson’s car or try to trip up testimony from the deputy who stopped him.

Richardson impressed Gator fans last year with his run-pass capabilities. Although he left the last regular season game against Florida State University with a knee injury requiring surgery a few weeks later, he performed well April 14 in the spring game – just 10 days after he was ticketed. Richardson is expected to play the first snap in the Gators’ season opener against Utah on Sept. 3.

__

This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at troy.myers@ufl.edu. You can donate to support our students here.

About Troy Myers

Troy is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

Check Also

Lifelines after landfall: Southwest Florida grapples with Hurricane Ian’s impact

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Gulf of Mexico swallowed driftwood, stray shoes, split skim boards …