Why Was The Ordinance Passed?
The St. Tammany Parish Council recently adopted an ordinance that allows drivers who get in trouble for speeding or running a stop sign on private roads in St. Tammany Parish subdivisions to skip traffic court and pay a standard fine…plus court costs. The council passed this ordinance claiming that it is in the interest of efficiency for the parish. Currently, people will take a full day off of work to stand before a judge in misdemeanor court for traffic offenses. It can be a rather large crowd, and seating is limited. Therefore, it can be an inconvenient experience all around. This particular ordinance is only for traffic infractions on private roads, and the council has made it known that they plan to take on traffic fines on parish roads next. Fines on parish roads can range anywhere from $100-$300 and also require an appearance in misdemeanor court so the judge can set the fine.
What Is Changing?
Prior to the ordinance passing, the law called for a fine of no more than $100 or a jail term of no more than 30 days or both at the court’s discretion. The change has allowed for there to be a standardized fee for any driver who runs a stop sign or is caught speeding on a private road. The fine print is that the change only affects about 18 subdivisions in unincorporated St. Tammany where the roads are private. Speaking of fine print, the ordinance claims there is a standard fee plus court costs. Court costs can be extensive, for example a $30 fine can result in a total ticket fee of about $200-250, and so a $75 standard fee plus court costs is going to be even higher!
Is It Worth It?
Even though this ordinance has passed, you can still contact an attorney or attend misdemeanor court yourself. Everyone has their own situation, but if you are able to make the trip to court and stand before the judge–do it. You will then have the opportunity to ask for a reduction in your fine or to reduce your offense to a non-moving violation so that it does not impact your insurance. In the end, it may be more beneficial for you to speak with the judge than it would be to pay a standard fee plus court costs.