Utah Advisory Board Recommends Alternative Traffic Tickets

July 12, 2006

The Holladay Citizens Advisory Board in Utah has recommended some traffic tickets not be reported to insurance companies so the offenders’ premium rates don’t go up.

The proposal is opposed by the community’s leading law enforcement officer and has received mixed reviews from City Council members.

“The city of Holladay has fast-earned the reputation of being the worst city for handing out traffic citations,” Sharron Horsey, chairwoman of the advisory board, said in a letter to the mayor and City Council. “We are hearing that people are avoiding our city because of this, and it has also led to contempt for our deputies.”

However, data from area justice courts show the city’s citation levels are lower than in most municipalities of similar size, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The city contracts with the Salt Lake County sheriff’s department for police services.

Last week, Horsey presented a proposal to City Council suggesting that the deputies adopt an Alternative Traffic Citation system.

On the first and second traffic violation, people would receive an ATC instead of a real ticket. The fines would be $55 for the first ATC and $75 for the second. Neither would count against insurance policies.

A third citation would be treated as a regular ticket and be reported to insurers.

A clean record for five years would reset the cycle.

“Everyone complains about the amount of tickets written in Holladay, and the deputies are getting a lot of guff over it,” said Frank Pignanelli, who serves on the advisory board. “We felt this would lessen that antagonism and give the public a chance to pay their tickets without it going on their insurance.”

Sheriff’s Capt. Steve DeBry, Holladay’s chief of police services, doubts the proposal would be legal as fines for speeding citations are set by the Legislature.

“What got my dander up is the idea we’re giving the city a bad rap, that people are avoiding shopping here now. To me that’s propaganda,” DeBry said. “When we do surveys, the No. 1 concern in Holladay is speeding. Citizens view it as a big problem.”

Councilman Hugo Diederich recommended discussing the idea at a future City Council work session.

“I don’t mind getting a ticket, but you get punished twice — the second time by your insurance company,” Diederich said. “If we can legally keep the insurance companies out of it, I’m all for it.”

Councilman Steve Peterson said he hears from complaints over ticketing and concerns over people driving too fast through the city.

“I’d rather work out something in the current environment that would allow us to be a little more user-friendly to our residents and visitors,” Peterson said.

However, he said some of the city’s posted speed limits could be too low and might need to be revised.

But he said of the advisory board proposal, “It went down like a lead balloon.”

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