DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Five people walked out of the Cleveland House of Corrections on Wednesday. It turns out they got too tough a penalty for a traffic violation.
Other residents may have been caught up in this sentencing slip up.
In the past 10 months, some drivers may have gotten harsher sentences than were warranted for traffic violations -- everything from speeding, to DUI, to driving under suspension.
This past May, Cleveland's City Council passed an ordinance lining up city traffic code with state traffic code. But they needed to pass a second ordinance, listing the penalties for those violations, and did not.
Without a penalty attached, the maximum sentence was a minor misdemeanor, but many drivers got the older, tougher sentence.
"As of this moment, we do not know how many people were affected by this, the Clerk's Office is researching," said Judge Charles Patton, with Cleveland Municipal Court. "There may have been people jailed for something, we don't know ... it's complicated. It's like a Chinese Puzzle, but we're going to try to figure it out and fix it and try to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The Cleveland Municipal Court has been ordered to resentence the affected drivers, including five people who were sentenced to a Cleveland work house and had to be released Wednesday.
To put this in perspective, the Cleveland Municipal Court processes 70,000 to 80,000 traffic citations each year.
Sections of the codified ordinances converted from first degree misdemeanors to minor misdemeanors were:
411.01 Placing Injurious Material or Obstruction in Street
431.38 Stopping for School Bus; Discharging Children
433.03 Maximum Speed Limits; Assured Clear Distance Ahead
433.07 Street Racing and Racing Prohibited
435.01 Driver's or Commercial Driver's License Required
435.02 Possession of More Than One Driver's License Prohibited
435.03 Driving With Temporary Instruction Permit Without Licensed Driver
435.04 Certain Acts Prohibited
435.05 Owner or Operator Allowing Another to Drive
435.06 Display of License
435.07 Driving Under Suspension or Revocation
435.15 Stopping After an Accident Upon Streets; Collision with Unattended Vehicle
435.16 Stopping After Accident Upon Property Other Than Streets
435.17 Vehicle Accident Resulting in Damage to Realty