FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – The sheriff in Larimer County wants to make sure people who get tickets know it’s a matter of safety, not revenue.

Sheriff Justin Smith has created a new warning form deputies can use when a warning rather a ticket is appropriate. That form includes the information about the fine and points drivers would have faced if they had been ticketed for the violation.

A year’s worth of tickets can generate between $700,00 and $1 million a year. In the past, the money has stayed in the budget for the Sheriff’s Office. That’s why deputies say tickets send a mixed message.

“It competes when you try to educate people for traffic safety and use discretion with it,” said Larimer County Sheriff’s Capt. John Manago. “When there’s revenue tied to it, they just don’t mesh well together.”

That’s why Smith asked the county to put the money collected from traffic ticket fees into the general fund, not directly into the sheriff’s budget.

“It just didn’t seem appropriate to even have the sheriff’s office directly collecting and benefiting from those funds,” said sheriff’s spokesman Nick Christensen.

The sheriff’s office says in recent years, deputies have routinely given more warnings than tickets but this should make the decision even easier. Deputies said often a warning is just as effective as a citation.

When a CBS4 crew was working on this report a driver who was stopped for speeding had been with a group of cars all going the same the speed. That driver had a good record and was in a rental car and only received a warning.

The county is expected to make up for the ticket money by how it allocates the sheriff’s budget.


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