HOPATCONG, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Imagine being able to work off a speeding ticket instead of paying it.
One town in New Jersey is giving residents a unique opportunity to clean up instead instead of pay.
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported, a speeding ticket in New Jersey can cost you up to $400, so can texting behind the wheel, or driving with an expired license.
Hopatcong, a borough of 15,000 residents, is giving offenders a chance to work it off instead of paying it off.
“In many cases they live paycheck to paycheck,” Mayor Mike Francis said, “So if there’s an unexpected expense, so for example one of your children, teenagers gets in trouble, and gets a substantial fine that could be a disaster to household finances.”
In Hopatcong, six hours of community service could mean $50 off the fine.
The municipal judge refers people who can’t pay to the Sussex County Probation Office.
It’s called the Mayor’s Clean Communities Work Program, and it’s done every Saturday.
The first client is scheduled for the next 13 weeks, doing time for criminal mischief.
Clients get a vest and a pair of gloves and right now the project they’re doing is cleaning up debris at the recycling center a job that department of public works employees would otherwise be doing.
“We may or may not get to them because they’re not high on the priority list,” the mayor said.
The town is even soliciting ideas from residents for future projects.
“Anything from painting buildings that we have, we have balls fields in town,” Councilman Bradley Hoferkamp said.
One resident said he’s paying thousands of dollars for traffic fines, and said he’d be happy to pay them off with the mayor’s program.
“Oh yeah, in a second,” Billy said.
The mayor says it’s a way to instill pride, instead of punishment in his town.