NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #82

In Tough Economic Times, Ticket Revenue Props Up City and State Budgets

Over the past 12 months, the national article that has stirred up the most media interest in terms of interview requests with the NMA was this one published by the USA Today in March. In fact, we are still getting requests to comment on whether NMA members are seeing less tolerance by the police in issuing speeding tickets to drivers who may be going a few miles per hour over the posted limit. In short, the answer is “yes.”

We noticed several months ago the trend toward more tickets and fewer warnings to drivers. Considering that the past two recession-based years have been difficult on state and local government finances, it isn’t surprising that the same governmental units have turned to the tried-and-true method of raising funds via the motoring public.

Two researchers, Thomas Garrett and Gary Wagner, found a direct correlation between cities and counties having difficult fiscal years and an increase in ticket revenue in their study, “Are Traffic Tickets Countercyclical?” After analyzing 13 years worth of data from the various counties of North Carolina, Garrett and Wagner found that, on average, each five percent drop in revenue resulted in an almost two percent increase in the issuance of traffic tickets.

The Wall Street Journal just published more evidence of this correlation in Ben Worthen’s, “Sharp Acceleration in Traffic Tickets.” The secondary title and the first paragraph of the article summarize things nicely:

San Francisco Police, Citing New Enforcement Techniques, Stop More Drivers Than They Did Prior to the Recession

The number of traffic tickets written by the San Francisco Police Department has risen sharply in the past two years over pre-recession levels, an increase that is projected to add $1.2 million to the cash-strapped city’s coffers the fiscal year that just ended, according to the police department and San Francisco’s Office of the Controller.

Is there any doubt why the NMA encourages drivers to fight their traffic tickets?

If more than just a tiny percent did challenge their tickets, traffic court might even have a chance to become what it should be — a system of justice — rather than a streamlined money-making enterprise.

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Newsletter Archives:
You can now view all past issues of the NMA email newsletter, including this one, online here: http://alerts.motorists.org/tag/emailnewsletter

Want to find the speed traps in your neighborhood?
Check out the NMA’s speed trap registry at www.speedtrap.org.

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