Press release from the Cortland County Legislature.
Starting this month, getting pulled over for a traffic violation in Cortland County will include a possible break for the county’s drivers.
A diversion program will be put in place for infractions that are on a lesser scale.
“We are moving to a new softer approach for our constituents,” notes District Attorney Patrick A. Perfetti.
“Instead of two choices that an offender has available as options, there will now be a third,” continued Perfetti. “We are activating an online diversion program that will be available for those citizens who are generally law-abiding, but have committed a violation of our traffic laws. The alleged offender will now be allowed to get online, apply for the program, and possibly avoid getting points on his or her license and a court date.”
Perfetti has chosen Diversion Management, an Orchard Park company, to administer the program.
In the past, a moving traffic violation gave the offender just two options: Plead guilty and send in the fine or go to a local court to contest the ticket. This year, the third option is to log onto https://cortlandny.diversionconnect.com and follow the prompts to register for the program. With this application, Perfetti’s office will review the submission and decide whether to admit the person who applies. If accepted, the driver will be obliged to take a driver education course online. There are several options for the driver for these courses, but only DMV-approved courses are acceptable. If accomplished within 60 days of registration and after payment of a set application fee, the registrant will be released from the offense and no report will be sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“This also avoids the higher cost of a new insurance policy or the additional fees that an insurance company tacks on to their client’s bill,” notes Perfetti.
The new system is a response to the recent New York legislation that calls for accelerated discovery by prosecutors. Perfetti points out that his office will concentrate on the more severe breaches of the law and let the diversion program handle the lesser offenses, such as these traffic violations.
“Further, this system means that traffic fines that normally get sent to the state will now remain local, divided amongst all the municipalities that are within the County of Cortland. “This is a big win for our local people,” concludes Perfetti.
Perfetti has been researching the program for months. One additional factor that has prompted the move to an online system was the desire to avoid spread of the Coronavirus.
“We were increasingly concerned about social distancing within our court system. The online Diversion Management program helps to eliminate appearance in court and the increased risk of a spread of the deadly pandemic. The more people we keep out of our court buildings, the better we avoid the spread of Covid-19,” stressed Perfetti.
Diversion has been trending across governments in New York State for several years. A desire to concentrate the focus on more heinous crimes with an increasing shortage of staffs due to budget shortfalls has been a catalyst for this movement.
Lou Piccone, President of Diversion Management, a division of the NY Safety Company has been steadily adding counties to his online program, especially since January 1st. “We now have Orleans, Steuben, and Clinton up and running, so Cortland is the fourth within the past year. We will likely have twelve counties within our state ready to activate by the New Year.”