Improved Electronic System Speeds Up Traffic Fines Collection

Patrick Swanick
Patrick Swanick

DOWNTOWN HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Hawaii drivers rack up millions of dollars in unpaid traffic tickets, about $ 26.2 million in less than a year. Only a small fraction of that ever gets collected.

But an improved collection system is making a dent in that mountain of debt.

If you get a parking ticket, the process in the past was very slow. It took a lot of manual bookkeeping, but since the courts switched over to an electronic system back in November, collections have gone way up.

Like any big city, traffic is part of life in Honolulu. And if you do enough driving, sooner or later you may get a traffic ticket. The collection system in the past has been very time-consuming.

"If the case is sitting somewhere and nobody actively working it, justice is not really done and the person is getting away with it and that's not appropriate," said Patrick Swanick, the CEO of MSB Government Services, the collection agency hired by the Hawaii court system.

An improved electronic system has made that process much faster.

"Think of all the paper files many courthouses across the country have had," said Swanick. "This basically electronifies the whole process. It makes it very efficient. It cuts down on errors."

About 85 percent of violators are Hawaii residents; the rest are from out of state. The system has a way of going after those who get tickets while driving rental cars.

"We'll bring the rental car company into the whole case and basically because we know they can charge the renters' credit cards for any violation that occurred when they have that car," said Swanick.

So the advice for violators is to pay up because the collection agency will come after you sooner or later.

Of the different islands, Kauai has the best collection rate at 17 percent. Oahu is second at 16 percent. And maui and the Big Island of Hawaii are tied for last place at 11 percent.