Chapter 08 - Procedure for Traffic Offenses

Chapter 08 - Procedure for Traffic Offenses

22.0801 Purpose.


The purpose of this chapter is to provide a procedure for the adjudication of all vehicle code violations not amounting to a felony and those not taken before a magistrate as herein-before required or permitted. To this end the procedure established by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Traffic Court and specifically the Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint is noted and approved.

22.0802 Procedure in lieu of other procedures.


The procedure set forth in this chapter may be employed in lieu of all others for violations of this title not amounting to felonies.

22.0803 Authority of police to issue citation at scene of accident.


Except for felonies, a police officer at the scene of a traffic accident may issue a written traffic citation to any driver of a vehicle involved in the accident when, based upon his personal investigation, the officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the person has committed an offense under a provision of this title in connection with the accident.

22.0804 When person must be taken before court.


Whenever any person is halted by a police officer for any violation of this title not amounting to a felony, he shall be taken without unnecessary delay before the next sitting of the district court in either of the following cases:

(1) when the person demands an immediate appearance before the court:

(2) in any other event when the person is issued a traffic citation by an authorized person and refuses to give his written promise to appear in court as hereinafter provided.

22.0805 When person may be taken before court.


Whenever any person is halted by a police officer for any violation of this title and is not required to be taken before the court the person shall, in the discretion of the officer, either be given a traffic citation or be taken without unnecessary delay before the next sitting of the district court in any of the following cases:

(1) when the person does not furnish satisfactory evidence of identity or when the officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe the person will disregard a written promise to appear in court;

(2) When a driver of a vehicle refuses to allow inspection of the vehicle by a police officer as provided for in 22.1203.

22.0806 Violation of written promise to appear.


(a) It is unlawful for any person to violate his written promise to appear given to an officer upon the issuance of a traffic citation, regardless of the disposition of the charge for which such citation was originally issued.

(b) A written promise to appear in court may be complied with by an appearance by counsel.

22.0807 Uniform traffic ticket and complaint-summons.


(a) In the event of any violation of a provision of this title resulting in a misdemeanor or an infraction, proceedings may be instituted by the serving of a summons upon the violator.

(b) The summons shall be signed by a police officer of American Samoa and shall be substantially in the form known as the “Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint-Summons.

(c) No code section need be specified in the summons in any case in which the charged violation is specifically designated through the use of indicated boxes provided on the uniform ticket and complaint.

(d) The summons may contain other information pertinent to the charged offense and such forms for appearance, plea and waiver as are necessary under 22.0815 et seq.

22.0808 Summons-Service.


(a) The summons may be served by the delivery of a copy thereof to the defendant, or by affixing a copy thereof to the outside of the vehicle’s front windshield, if unoccupied.

(b) The summons may be served by any member of the department of public safety, a police officer or any deputy.

22.0809 Answer before violations clerk.


A summons lawfully issued under the provisions of this chapter may be answered by appearing before the close of business hours and within 7 business days from the date of the service, before the violations bureau in any case within the provisions of 22.0815 et seq. In such cases the summons shall constitute a complaint to which the defendant may plead guilty.

22.0810 Appearance in court-Complaint-Abstract of court record.


(a) In any instance in which the summons is not answered by appearance, plea and waiver before a violations clerk, the defendant shall answer the summons by appearing in court at the date and time indicated on the summons.

(b) Before any offense shall be heard by the court, or any plea taken, there shall be filed with the clerk of the court a complaint signed and sworn to by a police officer of American Samoa, which shall set forth the particulars of the alleged offense. The complaint shall be substantially in the form known as the “Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint Affidavit”. The complaint may also contain other information pertinent to the alleged offense.

(c) There shall also be transmitted to the court an “Abstract of Court Record for Violations Bureau”, which shall be substantially in the form known as the “Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint-Abstract of Court Record”. Upon disposition of the case, the court shall complete such abstract and cause it to be transmitted to a violations clerk.

(d) The summons and complaint of the uniform traffic ticket and complaint shall be considered sufficient information to initiate and sustain an action under this chapter. Upon proper motion by the defendant, however, the government may be required to produce further information which may have become essential for a fair trial.

22.0811 Arrests.


Upon the failure of any person to answer a summons issued pursuant to this chapter, a warrant for his arrest may issue. Such warrant shall be supported by sworn complaint as provided in 46.0802.

22.0812 Failure to answer a misdemeanor.


Any person who willfully fails to answer a lawful summons issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor, regardless of the disposition of the charge upon which the summons was originally issued.

22.0813 Evidence.


Evidence from radar or other electronic equipment used to check and record the speed of vehicles may be admitted as evidence in the prosecution of alleged motor vehicle violations.

22.0814 Costs.


(a) The court may assess reasonable costs against any defendant who fails to appear and answer a lawful summons as provided in this chapter.

(b) Such costs, when assessed, shall be segregated into a fund which shall be administered by the Chief Justice.

(c) Such fund shall be used to defray the expenses of the administration of 22.0815 et seq.

22.0815 Appointment and functions of violations bureau-Fines.


(a) The Chief Justice of the High Court, whenever he determines that the efficient disposition of the court’s business and the convenience of persons charged so requires, may constitute the clerk or deputy clerk of the High Court, or any other appropriate official of the government, or if such other appropriate officials are not available for appointment, any suitable and responsible person, as a clerk in the violations bureau.

(b) It shall be the function of the violations bureau to accept appearance, waiver of trial, plea of guilty and payment of fine and costs in misdemeanor traffic offenses and traffic infractions, subject to the limitations prescribed by this chapter.

(c) The violations bureau shall serve under the direction and control of the High Court.

(d) The district court shall by order, which may from time to time be amended, supplemented or repealed, designate the misdemeanor traffic offenses and traffic infractions within the authority of the violations bureau; provided, that such offenses shall in no event include felonies, accidents, resulting in property damage or personal injury, operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic or habit-producing drug, or permitting another person who is under such influence to operate a motor vehicle owned by the defendant or in his custody or control, reckless driving or leaving the scene of an accident.

(e) The District Court, by published order to be prominently posted in the place where the fines are to be paid, shall specify by suitable schedules the amount of fines to be imposed for first, second and subsequent offenses, designating each offense specifically in the schedules, provided such fines are within the limits declared by statute or ordinance. Fines and costs shall be paid to, receipted by and accounted for by the violations bureau in accordance with these rules.

22.0816 Plea of guilty, waiver of trial, payment of fine.


(a) Any person charged with any misdemeanor traffic offense within the authority of the violations clerks may appear in person before a violations clerk and, upon signing a plea of guilty and waiver of trial, pay the fine established for the offense charged, and costs.

(b) He shall, prior to such plea, waiver and payment, be informed of his right to stand trial, that his signature to a plea of guilty will have the same force and effect as a judgment of court, and that the record of conviction will be sent to the Commissioner of Public Safety of this territory.

22.0817 Procedure after three convictions.


No person who has been found guilty of or who has signed a plea of guilty to 3 previous traffic offenses in the current calendar year may be permitted to appear before a violations clerk unless the court shall, by general order applying to certain specified offenses, permit such appearance, conditioned upon the payment of a substantially increased fine, which increase shall be specified in such general order.

22.0820 Law enforcement costs.


(a) In addition to any fines or costs assessed under this chapter or imposed pursuant to this title, the Court shall impose a law enforcement costs offset fee of ten dollars ($10.00) per conviction of any violation of any section of this title or title 20. For the purposes of this section, this fee shall also be imposed against licensed drivers failing to have their license in their immediate possession when operating a motor vehicle pursuant to section 22.0210.

(b) Such fee, when assessed, shall be segregated into a separate checking account designated “ASG - Traffic Rehabilitation Account” administered by the Treasurer of American Samoa. Such costs shall be expended solely for purchase or maintenance of traffic control devices, traffic patrol vehicles, and traffic safety or traffic law enforcement.

(c) The revenues generated from the fee imposed in this section shall be subject to appropriation by the Legislature and approval by the Governor.