DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - There are more fines and less crime in DeSoto County. It's Mississippi's third largest county and one of the fastest growing in the state. Judging by recent numbers, its drivers are some of the most law-abiding.
Since the fall, there are fewer traffic citations being written in north Mississippi. The county's not sure what to credit for the positive trend, but hopes it continues.
Over the last six months, DeSoto County's Justice Court has seen almost one thousand fewer criminal cases than that same time frame a year ago.
"Offenses range from DUI, traffic offenses, speeding, reckless driving and as simple as no tags tickets or an expired inspection sticker, just a wide range of moving to non-moving violations," says court clerk Shirley Beshears.
Beshears says just over 4,400 traffic tickets were filed in the six months from October 2011 to March 2012.
The court handles cases from the sheriff's department and highway patrol. Beshears says the significant drop in misdemeanors has reflected a much different trend in fine collection: almost one hundred percent of people are paying what they owe.
"A fine's not punishment if it's not collected. It's a big process to collect but the collection rate is at 96 percent. Last year it was 93, so they're definitely paying."
That's thousands of dollars that go back into the county's general fund.
A spokesperson for the sheriff's department says it's not just happening in the county, but also in cities like Southaven and Olive Branch. For Beshears, the numbers point to one thing.
"Less crime we hope," she says. "People are obeying the law, we hope."
She's hoping in six more months to look back and be able to say the same.