LaRue County residents facing a minor traffic citation have a new option: the LaRue County Attorney Traffic School or LCATS.
The program is similar to State Traffic School but offers several conveniences and keeps fees collected within the county.
County Attorney Dale Morris began a traffic safety school after learning other counties were offering the program. He later learned from the Kentucky Supreme Court that the statutes did not allow for a local program. He was advised by District Court Judge C. Derek Reed to take a “wait and see” approach.
An amendment to the law went into effect on July 15, giving county attorneys the green light to offer the school on a local level.
Completion of LCATS results in the traffic charge being dismissed, Morris said. That gives the driver a second chance to maintain a clean record and entails no penalty through the Kentucky Driver Point System.
In the Point System, traffic citations equate to points being taken from the driver’s record and could lead to loss of driving privilege and increase in insurance rates. Drivers can restore points by attending STS.
“(LCATS) is another avenue for helping people who tend to be a little derelict in remembering (posted) speeds or are unlucky in getting tickets,” Morris said.
An example of a minor traffic violation is driving 15 miles per hour or less over the speed limit.
Traffic offenses that are ineligible for LCATS includes having more than two traffic citations in the last five years, anything dealing with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), any charges that require mandatory suspension of license or any offense by a driver with a suspended license.
Morris contracted with Advent Financial Systems in Elizabethtown to develop LCATS. Advent’s website (www.adventfs.com) indicates the company provides web-based tools to manage cold check and diversion cases.
The website describes the course as a online driving education program that plugs “the gap between ticket forgiveness and court.”
The class can be mailed to the traffic offender on CD or taken online.
“Once they complete the program (and pass an exam) we are notified by Advent and the case is dismissed,” Morris said.
Advent is “easy to work with,” Morris said. His employees input the data into a computer and the judge approves it.
It takes about two hours to complete LCATS – which can be done online at home – compared to about four hours in class at State Traffic School.
“The difference is, you can only take STS once per year and the ticket is not dismissed,” Morris said.
Once referred to STS, it becomes a court order. If you do not comply with STS, it results in license suspension.
If a person does not complete the LCATS program, the charge continues through the court process.
Another option offered to drivers is diversion. Those cases may be dismissed after six months if the person does not have additional charges in that period.
Morris’ office files a report with the Administrative Office of the Courts providing information about who has completed LCATS and how much money was collected.
Since the amendment was enacted in July, Morris has had fewer than 10 traffic offenders each month taking advantage of the program.
Morris said Hardin and Jefferson Counties have similar programs.
Morris’ office collects $135 for enrollment in the class. The statute provides the Circuit Clerk’s office with $25 fee to offset recordkeeping costs. The money is to be deposited into an agency account with the Administrative Office of the Courts. It is to be used to hire additional deputy clerks and to enhance deputy clerk salaries.
The law (KRS 186.574) is vague on setting fees for the county attorney, saying only that it shall be “reasonable” and is to be used for office operating expenses.
For more information about LCATS, call Morris’ office at 358-9223.