Why $92 For ‘Click It Or Ticket’

Larry Price
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Wednesday - June 14, 2006
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The “Click It or Ticket It” campaign has been very successful in getting motorists to buckle up. And that’s a good thing, because there is clear and convincing evidence that motorists who have their seat belts fastened have a much better chance of surviving a car crash.

The state Department of Transportation, along with the Honolulu Police Department, can be justifiably proud that the state has the highest compliance with the seat belt law.


Having said that, I have always been curious how the DOT decides on how much the fine should be. Have you ever wondered how government agencies decide on how much of a fine will be charged for which violation?

In the final analysis, the Legislature determines the fines; however, each state has its own fine schedule and it is not standardized. For example, California’s fine is determined by the county in which the violation happened to take place, and it can average around $80 if there are no children in the car. If children are in the car and you are not buckled up, the fine can be as high as $350!

So how did Hawaii end up with a fine of $92? Remember now, the primary reason for the fine is that it should serve as a deterrent to a repeat of the same violation at a later date. The second consideration is the fine should also cover the cost of the processing of the fine. Lastly, the cost of the fine should get motorists’ attention. You have to admit those roadway signs that state clearly “Click It or Ticket It” do capture one’s attention - especially the $92 part.

The $92 is a bargain compared to California’s version. You can almost bet the Legislature will consider that modification sometime in the future.

But how do they come up with $92? The breakdown: $45 fine is for the seat belt violation, $7 is for driver education, $10 is for a neuro trauma special fund, and $30 is for administration costs.


It’s heartwarming that there is so much thought surrounding the cost of a violation. And yes, they do that for every violation where a fine or consequence is recorded.

It is interesting to note, though, that the process of determining the fine for a violation is not accompanied by a similar diligence when it comes to collecting the fine. The serving and collecting of traffic violations of all kinds has an impressive backlog that the Legislature has promised to correct in the near future.

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