Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Idling fine reduced from $100 to $25

Ketchum Police Sgt. Dave Kassner didn't need to convince the City Council that lowering the idling-vehicle fine from $100 to $25 is a good idea. Council members were immediately on board at Monday's meeting, unanimously taking the Police Department's advice without debate.

"I think we should go for it," Councilman Larry Helzel said.

The council adopted the ordinance in October 2009 primarily to prevent cars from being left idling in front of the post office and Atkinsons' Market while drivers went inside. Police were supposed to—beginning in October 2010—hand out tickets to offenders. However, officers have only issued warnings until the department could request that the council lower the fine. The first offense was supposed to be penalized by a $100 ticket, with subsequent offenses ticketed at $300, but Kassner said police felt the fine was excessive.

"We can enforce it and not have everyone screaming at police and City Hall for a $100 ticket," Kassner told the council.

Kassner suggested the fine be equivalent to that given for vehicles parked longer than permitted, which the council accepted. That changes the first citation to a warning. The second violation results in a $25 ticket with $52 tickets thereafter.

The ordinance allows vehicles to idle longer than three minutes to prevent damage to a vehicle or prevent dangerous driving conditions, such as an iced-over windshield. However, a car cannot be left running "solely for the comfort of the driver or passengers."

Kassner said a great advantage of following the ticket system for time-limit parking is that no one can claim they were unaware of the idling rule when given a $25 ticket; they already received a warning.

Trevon Milliard:

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