Higher fines for traffic, animal control citations

ORD2014-35

Ordinance 2014-35 passed by the CBJ Assembly on June 30, 2014 raises many fines for traffic and animal control violations. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Any new speeding tickets that you get within the City and Borough of Juneau will now take a bigger chunk out of your wallet.

The CBJ Assembly in late June passed an ordinance raising the maximum penalty for traffic and animal control violations. Many, but not all of the fines were raised after it was determined that they were dramatically lower than other Alaska and Washington state cities.

“This the first time in my career of 19 years that we’ve seen a change in fines,” said Lt. Dave Campbell of the Juneau Police Department. “We were just way low compared to other municipalities and areas.”

While Campbell said they previously considered an increase in fines, the issue recently gained renewed momentum with the CBJ’s looming budget deficit. But it’s unknown how much money the increased fines will bring in, and Campbell said that’s not the ultimate reason for doing it.

“You want the fine that’s associated with these types of things to also have a deterrent effect,” Campbell said.

You don’t want it to be so large that it’s crippling, but you want it to be large enough where it will act as a deterrent so people won’t speed, they won’t run red lights, they won’t illegally park downtown because they know that, if they get a ticket, it’s going to be a negative cost. If fines are too low, then you get people who consider it only as the cost of doing business and they’re willing to take the risk.”

For example, a fine for a typical speeding ticket is calculated based on every mile per hour that you drive over the speed limit. Previously, it was $6 for every mile per hour. Now it’s $12.

“If you’re driving down Egan Drive in a 55 (mph) zone and you’re doing 65 and an officer pulled you over and you got a ticket, that would be 10 miles an hour over,” explains Campbell. “The new fine would be 10 times 12 (which) would be $120, plus the $10 state surcharge. The overall ticket for that offense would be $130.” Previously, such a speeding ticket would impose a $70 fine.

If you speed in a school zone, then it’s $18 for every mile per hour over the 20 mph speed limit. If you go 40 mph in 20 mph school zone, then would you still have to prepare for a $300 ticket that includes a mandatory court appearance.

Other examples include fines for depositing injurious material (like an unsecured load that drops on the highway) which increase from $35 to $150. The citation for running a steady red light nearly quadruples to $200 while overtaking a school bus now draws a $300 fine.

And, did you let your car insurance lapse or forget to put the insurance card in the glove box? That could mean a $500 ticket.

As for animal control violations, the first offense for failure to report an animal bite is now $100 instead of $25, while a citation issued for not reporting a vehicle accident involving a pet triples to $75. Other examples of increased fines are for failure to immunize a pet, dogs at large, and failure to observe leash law areas.

The new fines went into effect Wednesday, July 30 at midnight.

 

Related documents: The Markup FINAL version of Ordinance 2014-35 just before its passage by the CBJ Assembly shows the differences between the old and new fines. Old fines are struckthrough while new fines are underlined.

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