My take on local news and events. All Comments are the responsibility commenter . All comments moderated. The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. ~~~ Albert Einstein
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A Note From Judge Tom
Actually, most of the cost of tickets in Wisconsin are already the result of various 'surcharges'. Take your average speeding ticket, for example--say 9 miles an hour over the limit (34 in a 25 zone); the ticket says $83.80. Of that amount, $30 is for the actual speeding offense. On top of that, state law adds a 26% "penalty surcharge". Then add the following: $18for the "jail surcharge/ crime lab drug surcharge", and up to $28 in "court costs" (assessed whether you actually go to court or not). Add it up, and you get the total for a ticket that goes through a MUNICIPAL court ($83.80). If you get the ticket from a Sheriff's deputy or State Trooper, and you go through CIRCUIT court (for the same offense/speed), then the "court costs" are only $25, BUT, you add another $80 for the "justice information system surcharge/court support services surcharge". The result: the 'punishment' for a 9 mph over the limit speeding ticket is only $30, either in municipal or circuit court. However, when you add up all the 'surcharges', that $30 ticket becomes $83.80 in a municipal court; that SAME OFFENSE in a circuit court is $160.80. Make sense?
Before adding on a 'fuel surcharge', consider what happened in California a number of years ago. The Legislature there started adding on surcharges for a whole variety of things--all seemingly good causes. At the end of the day, though, a minor speeding ticket ended up costing around $300 (for a $30 offense). Many couldn't afford to pay that, so they didn't show up to court. Bench warrants were issued for 'Failure to Appear', a misdemeanor crime which carried a separate $200 fine. So, in a few short years, California had a whole bunch of fugitive criminals, all because the 'surcharges' turned a simple $30 traffic offense into a crime. Be careful what you ask for; you might get it! Judge Tom