Alabaster may pass ordinance for defensive driving program

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Alabaster City Council will gather the public’s feedback during an upcoming meeting on a plan to add a section to the city’s code outlining fees and guidelines for the city’s defensive driving program, council members announced during a May 28 meeting.

The council will hold a public hearing on the matter during its Monday, June 11, meeting before likely voting on the ordinance the same night. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Alabaster City Hall.

If the ordinance passes, it will create a section in the city’s code of ordinances related to the Alabaster Municipal Court’s defensive driving program.

Alabaster City Attorney Jeff Brumlow said the city’s Municipal Court already has a defensive driving program in place, but said adding the section to the city’s code will formally outline guidelines for the program.

If passed, the new section in the city’s code would allow the municipal judge to charge defendants a registration fee for the defensive driving program, and to determine who is able to participate in the program.

Brumlow said the judge will have the discretion to set the fee based on the actual cost of the program, which must be conducted by a certified instructor. The judge could also decide to waive the fee for defendants deemed indigent or referred to the program by an outside agency.

All money collected through registration, evaluation or tuition fees will be placed in the city’s general fund budget.

Through a defensive driving program, some defendants who have received speeding tickets are able to enroll in the class and complete it to keep the ticket from going on their permanent record and possibly affecting insurance rates.

Brumlow said the addition to the city’s code would also give the judge the discretion to determine who can and can’t participate in the defensive driving program. He said typically defendants who have received their first speeding ticket can participate in the program, as can some defendants who received their most recent previous ticket within the past two years.

He said defendants who have a previous ticket on their record within the past year are not eligible for the program, as are defendants charged with more serious violations such as driving under the influence or reckless driving.