A Case in Point

Ever heard of someone being charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Ada County? Let’s take a look at the dramatic difference between distribution of court fines and fees for Boise City and Ada County.

The cost of committing a DUI in Ada County, if caught and charged by either the Ada County Sheriff or Idaho State Police, is $1185. The State of Idaho gets $930 of that amount and Ada County receives $255.

In contrast, the cost of committing a DUI in Boise City, when caught and charged by the Boise Police Department is $1132. Of that amount, the State of Idaho collects $202, Ada County receives $25, and the City of Boise walks away with $905.

Over my objection and “no” vote, today, Ada County signed off on an agreement with the city for county property taxpayers to subsidize Boise’s magistrate court operation, to the tune of $1.2 million a year or about 60 percent of the county’s costs not covered by the county portion of fines and fees.

Driving under the influence is a crime. It’s dangerous, and all too often, is deadly. When someone commits this crime, would you prefer that the fines and fees collected from them offset the costs associated with their actions, or do you prefer to have county property taxpayers foot the bill? I am a big believer in personal responsibility. County property taxpayers who have not committed the crime should not be forced to pay the price.

When the city challenged the legal requirement that they provide their own magistrate court facilities and services, the Fourth District Court judges en banc (as a group) and the Idaho Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled against the city. I believe that the dollars paid by the people responsible for committing the crime, or filing the civil magistrate court action, should offset the cost to taxpayers for providing these services. Ada County should not have agreed to allow Boise City to retain the lion’s share of the fines and fees.

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