If you are caught for speeding or reckless driving in Green Mountain Falls and forget to pay your tickets or show up for court, you won’t have to worry anymore about landing in jail and finding a bail bondsman at the 11th hour.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that you will probably get hit with higher fines, with surcharges and court costs. And the old days of cheaper penalties if you are caught by a GMF police officer rather than a state trooper are screeching to a halt. Also, delinquent ticket-payers may not be able to renew their driver’s license.
Last week, the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees adopted a new default court system aimed at increasing efficiency, saving administrative time and not requiring delinquent fine-payers to go to jail. As part of this package, it also adopted a new set of fines for traffic offenses. “It takes a huge load off of your administration,” said GMF Attorney Matt Krob. “It is more efficient.”
The attorney stated that more towns are following this trend.
More importantly, the new system kills the bench warrant system that often served as a hassle for court officials and traffic offense violators.
Green Mountain Falls Police Chief Tim Bradley unveiled unfortunate scenarios involving ticket violators who gets pulled over while traveling with their family at night, and then discovering they will be headed to jail for unpaid fines. He said many of these people just forget to pay their tickets and aren’t trying to buck the system. Krob also noted that with bench warrants, the town often ended up as a big financial loser. “You are losing money before they even get to court,” said Krob. He said this antiquated system relied to much on the prospects of delinquent violators getting caught or pulled over again, in order for the town to recoup its money for unpaid traffic tickets.
With the new system, traffic ticket violators will be handled like civil proceedings. And if a person doesn’t pay their fine or show up for court, a default judgement will be issued against them, and the town will report this matter to the Colorado Motor Vehicle Division. As a result, the ticket violator won’t be able to renew their license and will have to pay their penalties and related fines if they want to drive again.
The new system got a fairly good response by citizens and the trustees. The only complaints dealt with the town having to wait a lengthy period for a potential violator to renew his/her license.
As for the new fine schedule, the town is trying to establish fees that are more in line with the state and other municipalities. These fines range from $55 for not wearing a seat belt to $500 for not having insurance.
In a previous meeting, Krob quipped that drivers violating traffic laws are better off if they get caught by a GMF officer than a state trooper or sheriff deputy, based on previous fines and surcharges that are assessed against them. That scenario will be changing under the new rules.
The system adopted by the GMF will include surcharges and court costs for people who are found guilty of a particular offense or have default judgements issued against them. This could give the town an extra $8,000 or so in revenue per year, based on preliminary estimates.