Ticket bill would
help city coffers

The Council measure serves
as ammunition in the fight for
a share of citation revenues

The city would replace many traditional traffic tickets with "administrative" tickets that carry civil fines -- and keep the revenue, rather than turning it over to the state, under a new City Council bill.

City & County of Honolulu

City Councilman Charles Djou said his bill would apply to parking offenses and moving violations that have a fine as their only penalty. The fine would be $10 less than in the state traffic code.

The bill serves notice on the state Legislature that if it fails this session to give the counties a portion of the traffic fine revenues, the Council has a weapon, Djou said.

"Consequently, this is sort of a hammer over them that if they don't want to give any of the traffic fine money, we can do what Minneapolis did," Djou said. The city of Minneapolis and other municipalities in Minnesota have started issuing civil administrative, rather than traffic, tickets.

In some jurisdictions, the Associated Press reported, administrative tickets are popular with citizens because the fine is lower than state tickets and the citations are not reported to insurance companies.

"We actually receive thank-you letters," said Karla Davis, mayor of Kimball, Minn. "We have received people paying more that what their fine is, making a donation to the police department."

Counties here -- like in Minnesota -- contend that they dole out resources for police officers to enforce traffic laws but don't get any of the millions of dollars in fines.

Djou said in his bill, "if you have a city police officer giving a parking ticket at a city meter on a city street, the city would keep the fine. There's no state involvement."

If the person receiving the ticket doesn't pay the fine within 10 days or contests the ticket, that person would be given a regular state traffic citation and follow the usual course of traffic proceedings, under the bill.

Honolulu and the three other counties, along with Gov. Linda Lingle, support the counties receiving a portion of traffic fines. A bill that would give the counties uncontested traffic fines is moving through the state Senate but is stalled in the House.

"I would rather work something out amicably. On other hand ... all the other (county) council governments are frustrated with the Legislature dragging its feet on this matter," said Djou.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa, an attorney, said she believes there would be a problem with the county issuing the administrative tickets.

"This is not, I believe, an issue which the Legislature has delegated as a matter of county control," Hanabusa said. "I understand the frustration that Mr. Djou may be facing but, with all due respect, I don't believe the City Council has the right to pass such an ordinance to override a (state) statute."

Hanabusa said that the state attorney general would probably have to settle the question.


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