Motorists with no recent driving infractions are taking advantage of little-known court deals in which they pay a sometimes-hefty fee and keep their records clean as long as they don't get caught disobeying traffic laws too quickly again. In some cities in Hennepin County, for instance, the drivers can end up paying more than double the price of the ticket.More on the details of the law and its ethical ramifications at the StarTribune.
"It's a loophole," said Jeff Hochstein, a 43-year-old self-described habitual speeder, who said he has sought and received the deal several times throughout his driving career in an attempt to keep his insurance rates lower. "There's ways to buy your way out of it."
Besides added revenue, the deals help keep court calendars from getting clogged with traffic cases, some prosecutors say. Still, some critics worry they give a pass to speeders -- one of the nation's deadliest road hazards -- even as legislators consider a bill to keep more speeding tickets off driving records. The deals, allowed in some cities but not others, raise questions of fairness and governmental policy.
"To me, that's bribery," said Sharon Gehrman-Driscoll, director of Minnesotans for Safe Driving. "What message are we sending our kids? Daddy's going to pay this ticket but he's gonna pay a little more so then no one knows about it? ... I think as a society we need to always be as fair as we possibly can."..
In Hennepin County, most cities allow qualified drivers to get a deal, called a continuance for dismissal, simply by going to the courthouse and getting the OK from a hearing officer. The ticket's fines and fees are dismissed and replaced by "prosecution costs" which go entirely to the city, along with a state surcharge. The total bill can run as high as $325 in some cities, far above the $145 or so that the speeding ticket would have cost...
Tallen said he and other prosecutors are careful to make sure the benefit isn't just for the wealthy, though. He allows people the option to work off the tab through community service.
Tallen said he wasn't in favor of offering continuances at first, but judges urged him to cut down the number of cases going to trial. "We got tremendous pressure from the bench to get rid of cases," he said. "That's the only reason I did it."..
29 March 2012
Cash can make a speeding ticket "disappear" (legally)
From the StarTribune in Minnesota, but it probably occurs in other states as well: