There are several items of interest and note on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board's agenda for today, but let's focus on two for now -- the ones on the Operations Committee's to-do list that'll impact drivers of cars and riders of mass transit ... well, the naughty ones, anyway. First up: HOV fines! That's courtesy John Carona and Linda Harper-Brown, whose Texas Senate Bill 990 introduced in the spring a penalty for those who improperly exit or enter a high occupancy vehicle lane -- or just happen to hop in the HOV without others occupying their vehicle. The bill became The Law September 1.
SB 990 says the fine shouldn't exceed $100; DART's looking to make it $50 effective October 3. The fine right now is a whole $5. Spokesman Mark Ball explains:
"HOV tickets used to go directly to JP courts. After the court fees were included, the ticket cost as much as $250 with DART receiving $5. As of Sept. 1, a new law makes the HOV ticket an administrative fee. That fee will be discussed today at DART and is recommended at $50 if paid within 30 days. If not paid within 30 days, the ticket would then be sent to JP courts where the fee could again reach hundreds of dollars."
Only licensed DART cops can write the tickets. Then, there is this caveat:
A driver who chooses to contest the HOV citation may do so in the appropriate Justice of the Peace Court. In such instances, the administrative fee would not apply. However, the fine in the Justice of the Peace Court can be as much as $500 per offense.
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And speaking of fines: Right now, fare evaders are hit with a $75 fine; that's been the amount ever since August 2003. But DART's Operations Committee will look at a resolution today that lowers the fine to $50. Why the decline? This explanation at the bottom of the briefing explains the rationale:
The financial impact is expected to be minimal. It is anticipated that an increased recovery rate based on the lower fine amount will offset the lower amount received per violation.
The two draft resolutions follow.
DRAFTWHEREAS, pursuant to Section 452.0613 of Chapter 452 of the Texas Transportation Code, which became effective on September 1, 2011, DART has been given the authority to establish reasonable and appropriate methods to enforce regulations or prohibitions for improper entrance into, exit from, and vehicle occupance in high occupancy vehicle lanes operated, managed or maintained by DART and to charge an administrative fee not to exceed $100 to those drivers who are cited for certain High Occupancy Vehicle lane violations; and
DALLAS AREA RAPID TRANSIT BOARD
High Occupancy Vehicle Lane Enforcement and Administrative Fee for Violations
WHEREAS, the administrative fee will be applicable for a period of 30 days to those drivers who do not desire to contest the charged HOV violations, and after this period the citation will be sent to the appropriate Justice of the Peace Court for handling; and
WHEREAS, DART desires to implement the enforcement of HOV usage and associated penalties authorized in Section 452.0613 of the Texas Transportation Code and to set the administrative fee at $50 effective no earlier than October 3, 2011; and
WHEREAS, collection of this administrative fee will result in revenue to DART.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors that:
Section 1: The President/Executive Director or his designee shall establish reasonable and appropriate procedures and work rules and methods for their enforcement, for improper entrance into, exit from, and vehicle occupancy in, high occupancy vehicle lanes operated, managed or maintained by DART, to be effective on October 3, 2011.
Section 2: Effective October 3, 2011, violations regarding improper entrance into, exit from, or vehicle occupancy in high occupancy vehicle lanes operated, managed or maintained by DART shall incur a penalty of $50.DRAFT
Reduce the Administrative Fee for Fare Violations
WHEREAS, DART has the authority to charge an administrative fee of up to $100 to those passengers who are cited for fare evasion on the DART transportation system; and
WHEREAS, this administrative fee will be applicable for a period of 30 days to those passengers who do not desire to contest the charge of fare evasion, and after this period the citation will be sent to the appropriate Justice of the Peace Court for handling; and
WHEREAS, in Resolution No. 030089 DART set the administrative fee for fare evasion at $75; and
WHEREAS, DART desires to reduce the administrative fee; and
WHEREAS, the financial impact to this change is expected to be minimal.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors that the administrative fee for fare evasion is set at $50.00 for violations that occur on or after October 3, 2011.