County to cash in on traffic tickets

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Moffat County is looking to traffic law violators to generate dollars for its shriveled coffers.

Currently, whenever a sheriff's deputy writes a traffic ticket, the state collects the fine. But the county is pushing a model traffic code that would direct traffic fines to the county's general fund.

No traffic laws will change, Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said. The county will adopt the state's traffic code as its own, to prevent the fines from leaving the county.

Routt County's model traffic code generated $59,514 last year, the Routt County Accounting Department reports.

But the sheriff isn't predicting how much money the new code could raise for the county.

"We haven't looked at it from that point and that's not our objective," Grinstead said.

He insisted his office wasn't interested in using the code to raise money for the county.

"We're not telling the guys to write any more tickets than now," Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg said. "The only difference is revenue from tickets will now come to us."

The county has been talking about developing the code for years, Hoberg said. But the county's financial problems were the catalyst to make it happen.

Now, Hoberg estimates it will be two to four weeks before the code is adopted by the commissioners.

The Craig City Council will consider a resolution tonight to adopt the county's new model traffic code. City Manager Jim Ferree said the resolution is a formal way of saying Sheriff's deputies can write tickets within the city limits.

He wasn't concerned the resolution would steal revenue from the city, which has its own traffic code and already collects revenue from tickets written by city police officers. Deputies seldom write tickets within the city limits, although they are obliged to stop motorists for traffic violations they witness in Craig.

Once the City Council approves the resolution, the county needs to advertise the traffic code in the newspaper and allow a period for public comment. Then the commissioners can formally adopt the new traffic code.

The county collects percentages from citations for driving under the influence of an intoxicant, wildlife violations such as poaching, and drug busts.

No money is collected from traffic violations, said Diana Meyer, clerk of court for the 14th Judicial District in Moffat County.

Speeding tickets contain five fees: a fine, court costs, family friendly fee, traumatic brain injury fund, and victims' assistance fund.

The new traffic code will enable the county to collect the fine, and the other charges will continue being allotted to their regular recipients.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com

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