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Geneva police can soon issue traffic citations on local ordinances

GENEVA – Geneva police officers will soon be able to issue traffic citations on local ordinances, allowing the city to receive a greater percentage of fines and costs.

Aldermen acting as the committee of the whole Monday unanimously recommended approval of an amendment to the city code that adopts the Illinois Vehicle Code in its entirety for local enforcement purposes, officials said.

This will allow Geneva officers to write traffic tickets for any section of the vehicle code under a local ordinance, as opposed to a limited number of specific violations as a local ordinance, as is currently the case, Geneva Police Chief Steve Mexin said.

A state violation needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt while a local ordinance is proven by a preponderance of evidence. Misdemeanors still have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the amendment states.

"There would be the opportunity to charge  them under state charge or a local charge, depending on the circumstances," Mexin said. "The difference that a DUI charge would have, it would still be held to beyond a reasonable doubt burden of proof as opposed to the lesser charges like speeding."

Offenses would still go on the offending driver's record, he said.

Mexin said he did not have exact percentages of what the city would receive for various traffic citations, only that it would be more than what the city currently receives.

"For example, for a ticket, the fining agency would get about $24 from a $120 ticket, how much more a local charge would get, it's a bigger percentage," Mexin said. 

Several variables apply, such as court costs and court security – according to information he received from the circuit clerk – but not all would apply for every ticket, he said.

The amendment would go into effect after the city council takes final action.

According to the amendment, anyone convicted of the equivalent of a petty offense – in which imprisonment is not part of the sentence – can be fined from $50 to $750.

Drivers convicted of misdemeanors such as driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license, reckless driving and speeding more than 25 miles over the limit would be assessed fines as set by the vehicle code, according to the amendment.

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