New citation forms out today

LIHU‘E — This is one of those things you don’t want to be the first on your block to get.

Starting from midnight today, Sunday, Jan. 1, New Year’’s Day, Kaua‘i Police Department officers, and their counterparts statewide, began using new citation forms to charge people with parking infractions, traffic infractions and certain traffic crimes.

Leaders in the state Judiciary developed the 8 1/2 by 11-inch forms with input from all four county police departments.

The forms are designed to reduce the time and paperwork involved at traffic stops by providing officers with check-off boxes for the offenses most frequently cited in each county.

That feature will help eliminate case-processing problems that can occur when handwritten information, such as statute violated, description of the offense or monetary assessment, is illegible or inaccurate.

Kaua‘i Police Department Traffic Commander Lt. Mark Scribner explained that a big difference between the new and the old is that citations for parking infractions, traffic infractions and traffic crimes, each have their own books.

There’s a book for parking, a book for traffic infractions, and a book for traffic crimes, explained Scribner.

Before, Scribner pointed out that officers had to issue separate citations for each violation, and if an officer had to issue five citations, then that officer had to write each one out.

If there’s three or four parking violations involved, then one form will take care of those three or four violations, Scriber explained.

When police officers hand out the new citations for parking and traffic infractions, they will also provide preprinted envelopes with tear-away “answer” forms that can be mailed or delivered in person to district courts.

People cited will use the forms to admit the charges and provide payment, deny the charges, or admit the charges but explain mitigating circumstances.

Scribner said it is up to the individual to add up the total fine, and send in the citation.

He explained the difference between a traffic infraction and a traffic crime.

“A traffic infraction is decriminalized. It’s a set fine you pay. Traffic infractions include defective headlights, not a using a seat belt, no child-passenger restraint, speeding, no safety check. It’s a monetary fine,” said Scribner.

He pointed out that not having mudguards is a frequently-cited offense, and will cost violators $72.

For traffic-crime citations, people must appear in court.

“Traffic crimes, like reckless driving, driving without a license, driving without motor vehicle insurance, accident involving bodily injury, leaving the scene of an accident, inattention to driving, are crimes where there may be a possibility for jail time,” said Scribner.

Scribner pointed out that if a person gets a citation for a traffic crime, he or she must provide the last four numbers of his or her Social Security number to the officer.

It is needed under Hawaii Revised Statutes for the citation, said Scribner.

Along with the new forms is a change that officers will no longer assign court dates, in most cases, for people charged with traffic infractions, such as moving, equipment, pedestrian, and other miscellaneous offenses.

Instead, Judiciary staff members will assign court dates only when motorists request them, and if the request is made within 21 calendar days from the citation-issue date.

Another change involves the deadline for responding to traffic citations. Before today, motorists were required to respond within 15 days of the date when the citation was issued.

Starting today, the deadline is 21 days.

A default judgment will be entered against people who do not respond by the deadline.

The new forms were in the works for about a year. Officials with the state Judiciary, the different police departments on all the islands, and officials at the state Department of Transportation Highways Division, helped create the new forms, said Scribner.

The new forms came about because the Judiciary has a new computerized system, so the forms were changed to fit into the new system, he said.

“We at the police department wanted a form where we could charge multiple violations onto one form,” said Scribner, who spent some of the final days of last year delivering the new forms to officers at KPD substations in Waimea, Po‘ipu and Kapa‘a.

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