Youth Traffic Court
Posted on 01/27/2022
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This story appeared in the January 21, 2022 edition of This Week in Renton.

 

Photo of Judge Jessica Giner

Renton Municipal Court continues to innovate; introduces Youth Traffic Court

Renton Municipal Court provides innovative options for residents charged with low-level offenses.

Last July, Renton Community Court was established to provide community service and pre-trial diversion options. (Renton plans Community Court; TWIR: Feb. 19, 2021)

The court has now added Youth Traffic Court to provide options for youth drivers cited with civil infractions starting Feb. 16.

The court is one of several youth court diversion programs around Washington state. Youth courts have been recognized under state law since 2002.

The program allows 16- and 17-year-old drivers to have cases heard by a jury of their peers instead of appearing in an adult courtroom. Juries are composed of students from Renton high schools.

Civil infractions heard in Youth Traffic Court could include speeding, speeding in a school zone, and using a personal electronic device while driving. Youth Traffic Court does not hear criminal or criminal traffic charges.

“New drivers can learn from their mistakes and focus on alternative ways of making our community whole," explains Municipal Court Judge Jessica Giner. "The alternative includes community service, letters of apology, or writing essays rather than a long-term impact on their driving record or a monetary penalty. Our goal is to help improve driver and community safety.”

By using a jury of their peers, the process commits to restorative justice and fairness. To earn a dismissal of their case, the court gives those cited with infractions the opportunity to complete alternative conditions instead of paying a fine. The conditions are determined by the Youth Traffic Court jury. One of the options as a condition of the program includes serving on a youth court jury.

The program receives educational and promotional support from Renton Police Department’s patrol and traffic divisions. In addition, high school students, their parents, and teachers can talk to their school’s School Resource Officer.

Program applications are online and can be emailed to [email protected]. They are also available at Renton City Hall on Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

High school students interested in learning more about serving as team members or in having their infraction case heard in Youth Traffic Court should contact Judge Giner through the program’s webpage.

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