Traffic school to ease sting of first offense

Under a proposed New York safety driving course, first-time traffic offenders in Livingston County may soon see an alternative to paying heavy traffic ticket fines.

District Attorney Thomas Moran has proposed implementing a "Traffic Diversion Program," a six-hour remedial driving course that would replace the prosecution of certain traffic violations. Livingston County is one of several counties in New York state discussing the program.

Only first-time offenders would be eligible for the program and only in the case of certain violations. Driving while intoxicated, excessive speed, reckless driving and other hazardous offenses will continue to be prosecuted while minor violations involving speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign would make violators eligible for the Traffic Diversion Program.

Those who are qualified would be required to pay a $100 fee, but will escape prosecution and can use the six-hour course to lower insurance rates and remove up to four points from their licenses.

The purpose of the program is to decrease the odds of serious accidents and save the county money in the long term, as state funding for prosecution has been dramatically reduced in recent years.

"We spend a lot of time doing vehicle and traffic cases," Moran told Livingston County News. "I want to find a way to make it more efficient."

There is some dissent about the removal of the local courts from the process, as all eligible motorists would go directly through Moran's office. The program also channels fine revenue away from the local courts.

In Geneseo, such a program could be beneficial to the student population. "I think adding options for people is always a good idea," said sophomore Michelle Simensky.

Others, however, said they are hesitant about the proposition. "It's a good option, but I feel like most people would just pay the fine rather than spend six hours they don't have at a course," said sophomore Emily Plessas.

Moran is currently seeking support from the Board of Supervisors prior to implementing the plan.