Understanding and using the data tables
How to Use the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Conviction Data to Inform your CPS Program
DMV conviction data can help in identifying trends in CPS activity in your county. Review the data for total numbers of convictions (in each of the vehicle codes) to see if they have gone up or down, or remained constant. Compare across several years, and think about factors to attribute to any variations. Do you have a new judge who is knowledgeable about your CPS program and willing to convict violators? Is there a new component to the law which has changed the ticketing category (such as the change in age of children covered by VC 27360--for example in 2002, when the age/weight changed from 4 years and 40 lbs. to 6 years or 60 lbs., or in 2012 when the age changed to 8 years old). Changes in the law usually mean that law enforcement will take a renewed interest in citing during the first year in particular to gain public compliance.
If you see a substantial drop in convictions, maybe a judge, who previously convicted CPS violators, is no longer covering traffic violations. The next steps for a local program could be to make an appointment with a new judge to educate him/her (and their court clerks) to the CPS cycle of enforcement and disposition. A good reminder for the courts (and law enforcement) is that the fine monies generated by their actions are reinvested in the community through your CPS outreach and educational programs.
Something else to remember is when your judge sees a violator in court, under the law they are suppose to record the incident as a conviction whether the judge chooses to fine the violator or not. You may have a judge who understands the cycle of enforcement and disposition, and may even be referring the violators to an education program, but then they may not be recording the incident as a conviction. This is equally important in the cycle of enforcement and disposition for data purposes.
How to Use Citation Data (state law enforcement data provided by the California Highway Patrol) to Inform your CPS Program
Citation data is generated from both state and local law enforcement agencies. Local law enforcement citations make up a significant portion of the total citations in your area. If you chose to collect local law enforcement data you can get a more complete picture of your CPS citations.
If you chose to use only the CHP citation data, this will give you some understanding of CPS citations in your area. To use the CHP citation data identify the CHP Division in which your county matches. You will need to identify for yourself which CHP identified area(s) falls within your county. As you already know, CHP Divisions statewide does not match with county lines.
Use the CHP citation data to compare it with the DMV conviction data, and look at trends in total numbers of citations and convictions. There will likely be some variation year to year. Notice if you’ve have more CHP citations or DMV convictions, and think back to what has happened in those years that might have attributed to the variance in total numbers. Also, you may choose to compare your violation data with a neighboring county or another county (which might match your total population for example), to see the similarities or differences.
The Relationship of Conviction Data and Fine Monies (which go to Local CPS Programs)
Understanding citation and conviction data is not easy. To add to the confusion is the next step, knowing the accrued fine monies as a result of the convictions. Local health department CPS Programs will want to track, with the assistance of your fiscal administrators, what amount of fine monies are being accrued (and correctly deposited into your CPS account) from the court convictions of VC 27360, 27360.5 and 15620. Prediction of the amount of funds you should receive with what you actually receive is impossible. There will never be a direct correlation between numbers of convictions to funds accrued. Remember the judge has the discretion to waive or reduce the $100 base fine (which with added court fees is a minimum of $350 to the violator). However, you do want to compare the total amount of funds you are accruing yearly so that you can be assured that the procedures to transfer the fine money from the courts to the CPS Program are functioning properly.
Now compare the total yearly funds accrued with the total number of convictions to see if there is a big change in either category that doesn’t somewhat correlate in the other category. You want to be able to identify if the courts are waiving or reducing the fines differently from year to year, by comparing the amount of the funds with the number of convictions across time. If there is an unusual discrepancy you may want to request a meeting with your court judge to learn more about what is happening.
What Does all this Information Do? Or, I’m Still Confused – Help!
The Vehicle Occupant Safety Program (VOSP) intends by providing you with these data that you have a better picture of each of the components of your CPS program. By comparing and contrasting citation and conviction data with that of the amount of funds you accrue, across multiple years, you will better be able to evaluate the gaps and strengths of your program. This information will help direct your energy and time in conducting outreach to enrich or maintain the collaborations with law enforcement, the courts or your own fiscal administrators to ensure the maximum potential of your CPS program.
If you are more confused or even just overwhelmed, help is close by. Please feel free to contact Kate Bernacki at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to go over your violation data, discuss problem areas, or want some direction on how to outreach with CPS collaborators.