Decision close on raising Tulsa's traffic violation fines

Tuesday, August 26th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Bad motorists beware; the city of Tulsa’s Public Works committee is going forward with a plan to raise the fines for things like speeding and running red lights and school zone violations.

It goes to a vote at the city council on Thursday night. News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says the city has already raised the fines for parking violations. Now they want to boost the fines for when your car is moving too.

Most moving violations like speeding will get you an $80 ticket. If the new rules go through on Thursday, that will go to $110. There are dozens upon dozens of moving violations. But the big three concerns, says city councilor Bill Christiansen, are speeding, school zone violations, and running red lights. "Everywhere I go, people talk to me about the fact that Tulsa, people have the habit of running red lights."

Because he feels that violation is especially dangerous and widespread, Christiansen is going to recommend raising "that" fine from $80 to $160. But the head of the local police union worries the higher traffic fines could backfire.

Bob Jackson: "more warrants to be issued more people in jail and that's a loss to the city putting people in jail will cost you money." Jackson believes people will try to avoid paying fines if the fines go up. But city officials say fines by their nature are supposed to be unpleasant. Bob Garner, City prosecutor: "No question about that, a fine is supposed to be a deterrent."

Christiansen says if there's a problem with collecting the fines, the problem is with the collection, not the fines themselves. "And if we cave in like you say, cave in to the fact that we can't collect the fines, then we need to change the collection procedures.”

We asked the city what percentage of fines goes uncollected. They're still working on that information. But the Police Chief told the council Tuesday that collection will not be a problem.