Claremore Daily Progress

October 11, 2012

Czapansky rejects number of fines due county, state

From Jan. - Aug. 2012 only 138 driver’s licenses not suspended

Randy Cowling
Editor

CLAREMORE — Rogers County Court Clerk Candi Czapansky does not deny that she has not been suspending those who fail to appear after receiving a citation.

She has found there are 138 cases which she has not suspended and 58 of those can be recouped with suspensions.
“I have erred on those who failed to appear,” she said. “I misunderstood.”
From January to August 2012, the Rogers County Court’s office has not suspended anyone’s driver’s licenses because they failed to make an appearance at their assigned court date.
Czapansky said her office has been dealing with new software that she cited as part of the problem. When the issue was brought to her attention, she sought counsel from District Judge Dwayne Steidley, who directed her to suspend the licenses of those who did not appear.
“I should have probably have researched it and found a way to resolve this,” she said.
Based on the number of violators found on the OSCN database by the Claremore Daily Progress, fines and court fees for those who had not appeared between January and August 2012 could total as much as $110,000. 
Those revenues would be received by state agencies and some of the court costs, $5 to 15 would go the Sheriff, she said. The fines are not just for Rogers County, she emphasized.
Czapansky said according to her records only 138 violators have not had their licenses suspended as required by state statute.
There are two different types of violations — failure to pay and failure to appear.
State statutes allows county court clerks to use discretion on those who fail to pay, Czapansky said. However, state statutes clearly state those who fail to appear must have their driver’s licenses suspended, she acknowledges.
If an offender pays their fine or enters a not guilty plea, the court clerk cannot suspend their driving privileges, she said.
When a person is issued a citation, the officer of assigns a court date. The county court clerk has a 120 day window from the date of the citation to issue a bench warrant and suspend the offender’s license.  When the 120 days ends, the court clerk cannot suspend the offender’s driver’s license, Czapansky said.
Currently, Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers are sending citations electronically after they issue them, she said. However, citations in Rogers County municipalities may be received that soon.
There are certain offense, driving under the influence or even driving under suspension which the court clerk cannon suspend their driver’s licenses. Czapansky said the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s code book outlines which offenses cannot be suspended.
CLARIFICATION: Buddy Cook, who questioned why driver’s licenses had not been suspended, is a retired Claremore police officer and does not speak on behalf of the department.