New Albany has launched a diversion program for first-time juvenile traffic offenders that would void the charge and keep it from being filed with a court.
Amy Boyd, New Albany's probation officer, said the diversion program is open to drivers ages 15 to 17 who have been stopped for a minor traffic offense, such as speeding, violating temporary driving permit rules, assured clear distance ahead, failure to obey a traffic signal or failure to obey at a stop sign.
The program is for first offenses only, Boyd said, and no accident or other major traffic violation can have occurred during the incident.
A New Albany police officer who stops a juvenile driver can file the ticket with Franklin County Municipal Court or offer the offender the diversion program.
If offered the program, the juvenile driver has five days from the date of the traffic stop to contact Boyd and request admission to the program.
The program costs $100, according to a brochure from the city.
New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee said the program takes one to six months to complete.
Boyd said it is personalized to each offender and includes community service, a curfew, an essay and other components.
For example, she said, a youth who drove off the road into a yard might also have to pay restitution to repair the yard and take a defensive driving course.
"Hopefully, they learn something from it and realize they don't want to get on the wrong side of the law this early," Boyd said.
McAfee said the juvenile offender's family also has to commit to the program in order to make it a success.
Boyd said if a youth successfully completes all aspects of the program, the ticket is returned to the officer, who voids it.
At that point, only she and the officer know about the offense because it is never filed in a court, Boyd said.
Boyd said the program is beneficial to a young driver's family. She said diverting the ticket from being filed in court can prevent the family from paying increased insurance costs.
The new diversion program began in April. Boyd has not yet had any offenders sent to her.
the program is similar to those offered by other central Ohio communities, Boyd said, and similar to the New Albany juvenile criminal diversion program, which was launched in the late 1990s.
The criminal diversion program is available for juveniles who can be charged with assault, unruliness, underage drinking and some drug-related crimes.
Like the traffic diversion program, Boyd said, the criminal diversion program can be applied only to a first offense and the youth must complete the entire program before a charge is voided.