Electronic system helps state trim late traffic fines
System helps state Judiciary scoop up fines
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A company hired by the state courts collected only $777,160 in unpaid traffic fines over two years.
Then Municipal Services Bureau hooked up to the state's electronic court-filing system and pulled in $3.9 million of $27.6 million in outstanding fines in just seven months.
"Since the new JIMS (Judiciary Information Management System) system has been put in place, we have experienced a dramatic increase in efficiency of collection for the Judiciary," said Patrick Swanick, the firm's chief executive officer, yesterday.
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The chief executive officer of a collection agency that helps the state recover delinquent traffic fines praised the state's electronic court filing system in helping to dramatically step up recovery of unpaid fines.
Where Collections stand on delinquencies
» Delinquent traffic fines statewide that have been submitted to a collection agency as of May 22: $27,622,168
» Payments received as of May 22: $3,925,081
» Collection rate: 14 percent
County collection rate standings
Collection rates on each county as of May 22:
|| Collection rate
|| 15.6 %
|| 12 %
|| 11.5 %
|| 15.7 %
Before the agency, Municipal Services Bureau, was connected to the state's electronic Judiciary Information Management System, it recovered only $777,160 in unpaid fines over a two-year period. Since November, when the electronic interface was set up, MSB has collected $3.1 million in fines.
"Since the new JIMS system has been put in place, we have experienced a dramatic increase in efficiency of collection for the Judiciary," said Patrick Swanick, chief executive officer of MSB, yesterday in a news conference. "Things have been going well for the State of Hawaii Judiciary and for MSB."
Swanick said JIMS is a "leading-edge system" that would help collection rates in Hawaii surpass the industry benchmark in the high teens. Hawaii's recovery rates, currently at about 15 percent, are on track to rise above 20 percent in the next several months before reaching a plateau, Swanick said.
Texas-based MSB has been collecting delinquent traffic fines for Hawaii's Judiciary since October 2005. At the beginning, court staff collected and referred fines manually.
In November the state installed an interface connecting MSB with JIMS. Within the first month, the state transferred $6 million in unpaid traffic fines to MSB and recovered $82,000 in fines.
Swanick said Hawaii's JIMS program improves two-way interaction as the state sends delinquent accounts to MSB on a daily basis.
As of May 22 the state has referred 156,104 cases of delinquent fines to MSB that are worth $27.6 million. MSB receives about 17 percent of the fines that are recovered as its commission, Swanick said.
About 85 percent of delinquent fines are owed by Hawaii residents, while 15 percent are from tourists, Swanick said. The recovery rate for both groups are the same.
But recovery of fines remains a game of persistence, he said.
To encourage tourists to pay, the agency works with national rental car agencies to charge their credit cards or restrict them from renting another car until their fine is paid.
Recovery efforts normally begin with an initial mailed notice and a phone call. Within a 120-day period, offenders might receive three letters and between 16 and 20 phone calls encouraging them to pay, Swanick said.
Several factors also influence recovery rates, including the age and amount of the case and the demographics of where the case is.
Hawaii's four counties each have different collection rates. Kauai has a higher collection rate because the smaller community adds pressure to offenders to pay, but recovery is worst on the Big Island, where the rural area makes it more difficult to find violators, Swanick said.
"Persistence is a real factor in our effectiveness," he said. "Justice isn't served until the fine is paid."