OAKLAND _ City Attorney John Russo was ticketed Tuesday evening for not wearing his seat belt while driving on Piedmont Avenue during a citywide crackdown on scofflaws.

Russo, who has been city attorney since 2000, said he was distracted while leaving the popular ice cream parlor Fenton's with his twin sons and forgot to put on his seat belt. He was pulled over several blocks from the restaurant.

"There's no excuse," Russo said Thursday. "I should have been wearing my seat belt. I will not fail to wear my seat belt in the future."

Russo was also cited for having a defective windshield and for having an outdated address on his driver's license.

Russo said the crack in on the passenger side of his windshield is "tiny" and does not impede the driver's vision. His car registration reflects his current address, Russo said.

"I just figured the police officer had a bad day," Russo said, adding that his 20-year California driving record was otherwise spotless.

The fine for failing to wear a seat belt ranges from $81 to $90. For three weeks, "Click it or Ticket" means a guaranteed citation for drivers not wearing their seat belt in an attempt to increase the number of people buckling up. The effort is funded with grants from the state's Office of Traffic Safety, with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Oakland Police Capt. Dave Kozicki said officers were targeting certain areas where surveys show fewer drivers wear their seat belts.


Russo, who is expected to seek a third term as city attorney next year, lost a bid for the State Assembly in 2006.

E-mail Heather MacDonald at hmacdonald@oaklandtribune.com