ZUMBROTA — Starting this spring, Goodhue County drivers cited for minor traffic violations will have the opportunity to attend class and get the ticket scratched from their record.
Goodhue County Sheriff Dean Albers said the program will put money directly in the county’s pockets and give drivers a second chance.
“Everyone needs a break,” Albers told county commissioners on Tuesday. “And it’s a good way to educate the public about getting back to driving safely.”
The program will allow sheriff’s deputies to offer traffic offenders the option of attending an educational driving class or taking a citation — and the costly fine and possible court fees that come with it.
Those who choose to attend the two-hour class will instead pay a $75 fee. Upon completion of the course, the citation will be wiped from their record — no court appearance necessary — and won’t affect their insurance.
Class participants would take a driver awareness test.
Commissioners praised the idea Tuesday at their informal Committee of the Whole meeting. It’s likely they will officially approve the program at an upcoming meeting.
“I think it’s great,” Commissioner Ron Allen said. “This is really the education piece that the ticket misses.”
The $75 will go into a county fund for traffic enforcement equipment.
Albers said most money currently generated from citations issued by his deputies goes directly to the state. Under the new system, funds generated would go right into county coffers.
Nearby Wabasha County was the first in the state to implement a similar program in late 2003, Sheriff Rodney Bartsh said.
The safe driving class wasn’t meant as a revenue stream, he said, but generates about $50,000 to $60,000 annually.
“I think it’s worked out extremely well,” Bartsh said of Wabasha County’s program.
“The public realizes we’re not just hammering them with this ticket and fine.
“We’re not out to get them. We’re here to help.”