Friday, July 10, 2009

New state law affecting city traffic violations goes into effect soon
Just days after the 2009 legislative session adjourned, Gov. Pawlenty signed into law a bill (supported by the League of Minnesota Cities) that allows local units of government and the State Patrol to enforce low-level traffic offenses with administrative citations.

The new law will take effect Aug. 1, 2009. However, the State Department of Public Safety has until Oct. 1 to design the uniform administrative ticket. League staff has assembled a tool kit to assist cities that want to exercise the authority provided by this legislation.

The kit is designed for city officials and the casual viewer is likely to find it highly technical and dense. City residents may be interested, though, in the FAQ section (pages 4-6) that provides a basic description of how the new law will directly impact traffic violators.

Advantages of the new law:
--Administrative citations provide an alternative to warnings, which have no consequences, and costly state tickets, which some believe carry a disproportionate penalty for low-level offenses such as speeding less than 10 miles per hour above the posted limit.

--The use of administrative citations for low-level traffic offenses has been an effective public safety tool. Local law enforcement officers have used administrative citations for minor violations that might otherwise be warnings. Administrative citations have been shown to positively change driving behavior.

--Representatives of the courts have repeatedly stated that district courts are overburdened, and that they are facing unprecedented funding challenges. Given these conditions, it makes sense to keep low-level violations out of the district court system.