• Nov 21, 2007


As many states and local municipalities struggle to balance budgets and find funding for services like police protection, it seems like many are turning to alternative means of raising revenues. Since politicians are invariably loathe to actually raise taxes to pay for the services that people expect, speed traps are becoming increasingly popular. According to Detroit News columnist John McCormick, not only are more speed traps being used, the fines are getting increasingly punitive. Drivers in Virginia might want to be particularly watchful of speed limits. Surpassing the limit by 15 mph will now cost you $1,250 plus court costs. Topping 80 mph will cost you double that and possibly jail time. All this seems pretty extreme, especially if a driver isn't driving recklessly or the speed limit is set artificially low. Speeding in a residential area is unacceptable, but going 80 on a wide open highway in clear conditions is not necessarily dangerous.

[Source: Detroit News]


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  • 54 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well in NC any tickets or citations from any traffic violation benefit the K-12 school system where the citation was given. The revenues from speed traps in NC will not benefit any actual towns because the school boards are separate from town governments.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Or they can just taser us into submission if we don't start paying the fine immediatly. I think I would rather carry cash and bribe the cops than get tasered.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMaMYL_shxc&eurl=http://www.sltrib.com/ci_7523456

      Of course the guy didn't listen to the cop, but he also did NOTHING that threatened the cop.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ontario imposes a minimum $2,000, maximum $10,000 and 7 days impound, for going 50kph(31mph) over. They call it street racing at that point. Stunt driving(wheelies, drifting, etc) is also included in the above fines.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "services that people expect"....Like Health care, welfare and other socialist programs? This is just the beginning!!
        • 7 Years Ago
        No, like actual police protection instead of having the officers out stopping someone for going 10 over and observing all other traffic courtesies and laws 100%.

        Oh whoops, sorry, this is for "your protection," of course, how stupid of me!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Time for a tea party......
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sam- are you TRYING to give me a heart attack? You gotta use something other than a picture of an MSP cruiser when your post has 15mph over and $1250 fines jump out at you.
      I've never seen a speeding fine that didn't affect non-residents. Contrary- in many places, fines are due one the spot, unless you choose to fight the ticket, which in many cases is just not practical ($200 speeding ticket 7 hours from home). I could understand fines for repeat offenders, like Indiana does in construction zones.
      Regardless of what you think the limit should be- its law. Don't like it- CHANGE IT.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Simply raising speeding fines higher and higher in his supremely unfair to low and middle income folks in this country. I have long been a proponent of tying speeding fines and DUI and DWI fines to income. So let's say after your third offense in a three-year period, a judge would have the option of fining you 10% of your income, based on your last year's tax return. So someone who makes $10,000 a year would have to fork over a grand, while someone who makes $10 million a year, a celebrity like Mel Gibson lets say, would have to come up with a cool million. That's much more equitable and fair.

      Wealthy Americans and celebrities like Paris Hilton would then have some real motivation to do the responsible thing and go out and hire a personal driver for $40,000 a year the year plus benefits, instead of getting out on the road after they've been drinking, or getting behind the wheel of their high-powered vehicles and going for a high-speed joyride on the public streets and endangering everyone's lives.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Responding to Sean:

        I like how you broke the numbers down. Makes things seem very clear, but while I agree that speed by itself isn't the most dangerous vehicle violation out there, there are 2 weaknesses to speed-related accident statistics.

        1. There is no way to completely know for sure whether someone was speeding, especially if he/she was slightly over the limit. Sure, you can tell by skid marks and body damage if someone was going 20-30 over, but in most cases, people will say after an accident, "I was going exactly the limit, and this guy came out of nowhere."

        2. Does speed by itself cause a lot of accidents? no. Could lower speeds have prevented a lot of accidents? I would say so. Braking distances theoretically increase by the square of speed, so going 35 in a 25 (which many people do, including myself) effectively doubles your braking distance.

        But overall, I still agree that impatient, unaware, and chemically influenced drivers are 1000x more dangerous on the roads than speed.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "getting behind the wheel of their high-powered vehicles and going for a high-speed joyride on the public streets and endangering everyone's lives."

        This is exactly why jurisdictions can get away with unbelievably high speeding fines. They have people convinced that the public is somehow in danger of people driving at high speeds. Speed has very little to do with it.

        According to the FHWA, one-third of all FATAL accidents are speeding-related. Of those, about two-thirds are single-vehicle accidents. So, roughly 21% or all fatal accidents are multi-vehicle incidents involving speeding of some sort. According to the NHTSA, there were about 6.4 million accidents in 2005, and roughly 40,000 were fatal. There were 2.9 million injuries from the 6.4 million accidents.

        Working this out, of the 6.4 million accidents, less than one percent were fatal (0.625%). Of those fatal accidents, speeding was a factor in one third (0.208%). So, approximately one-fifth of one percent of all accidents are caused by speeding and fatal.

        Now, put that into perspective of actual people, not just accidents. About 40,000 people die every year in accidents. Since we know that one-third are speeding-related, we know that about 13,500 die from speeding. About 12 million people die each year in the US. That makes it roughly one-tenth of one percent who die each year due to speeding. Our population is about 300 million, which means that one in about every 22,000 people will die each year due to speeding. Those numbers don't draw a distinction between "illegal" speeding (going above the posted limit) and "unsafe" speeding (driving too fast for the conditions).

        To recap: about 0.2% of accidents are fatal and caused by speeding, and one in every 22,000 people dies from speeding. You're more likely to be murdered or commit suicide than die as a result of speeding: one in every 18,000 people is murdered. One in every 9,000 commits suicide.
        • 7 Years Ago
        lot of good ideas here. A more bulletproof (though admittedly not completely bulletproof) way of implementing income-linked penalties would be to fine the greater of $x or y% of income for an offense. That way people who cheat the system on their taxes still pay a real penalty.

        Graduated licenses/speed limits is a creative idea, but it would be a nightmare to impose. Police wouldn't know what to do with someone going 70mph. This would probably lead to even more age discrimination than currently exists. Even with electronic identification of license plates, there would be no way to know who was driving. That extra step may be imposing on privacy a little too much.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Jezzz Aaron, I think that people who are on welfare shouldn't pay ANY fines. They qualify for the lowest income by your definition. To make more affluent people pay more for fines for the same infraction is just stupid. The fact that a person may have worked hard, gotten higher education, and prospered instead of being an anchor of social welfare should not be made to pay extra money for a traffic infraction. If this became the practice, offenders should immediatly quit their job, and go on the dole. Welfare could even pay their fine from tax money collected from people stupid enough to want to make something of themselves. From your posts I think you are a strange puppy buddy.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I am self employed and my job is very much feast or famine.

        Tying speeding fines to income would mean if I got a ticket on December 31st they would take $500, but the very same ticket next day - when I close a deal that year - they would take $4000. That is just plain capricious.

        Furthermore, the real world effect of this would be a police crackdown on motorists who look rich. If stopping one millionaire becomes a $25,000 jackpot, you had better believe every podunk town there is will send their cops out with a Lexus quota and it will no longer be possible to drive while affluent.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I like this idea. It makes minor offences not so much of a financial hardship for low income individuals/families, and it actually serves the purpose of a punishment for those whose net worth makes the current fines seem like losing the change out of their pocket. The only flaw I could see is for scaling back the more serious offences for low income, such as DUI/DWI. If this was set at a high enough % for of total worth, then it would work for everyone though.

        Mostly I think the punishment should fit the crime though. Fines should be minimal unless damages were incurred, and the results should promote good behavior and discourage bad behavior.

        For example, DUIs should all result in suspended licenses for at least a year and AA meetings. More serious DUI's, second offences, or driving without a license should result in revoked license for LIFE. (Most deaths in accidents where drunk driving was the cause involve youth and/or people with prior convictions. Keeping the latter off the road would discourage the former.)

        Or in the case of speeding, gradated licenses. Everyone starts with one that tops out at 55mph. If you're free of tickets and accidents for say, 3 years, you get it bumped to 65mph (or +5 to 10mph in other zones). If you do get a ticket or cause an accident, then you get bumped down a level back to 55. If you avoid trouble for another 5 years, then it goes up to 75mph. This could conceivably go up to rather high limits, but would discourage reckless driving.

        I'd also like to see the focus on speed shifted to other offences, like tailgating, illegal lane changes, weaving, failing to merge properly, and the big one: obstructing traffic. It would also be great to see the police actually do stuff like aid stranded motorists (you know, to *serve* & protect) instead of accosting the rest of them for tax dollars.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Too bad no one gives a crap about blog commenter ideas.

        Shame, really.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wait, didn't Volkswagen "Drivers Wanted" just move to Virginia?

      "Drivers Wanted", indeed.

      Chris.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow, and I thought the british had it bad.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My God a lot of you people are thick.

      Listen, it's very...VERY simple:

      DON'T SPEED!!!!!!!

      Just go the damn speed limit and you won't have a problem. If you insist on speeding, they YOU are taking that risk of a $1200 dollar ticket. Don't blame the state, blame YOURSELF!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Matt,

        After reading your response I just had to make my first comment.
        The posters here, like many others are not abiding by laws they feel are unfair, and just plain wrong, a money grab basically.

        Your idea to just follow the law, because it is the law goes against the whole idea of our country. We should fight unfair laws, not follow like blind sheep. Let's go out there, speed safely if conditions permit, and fight those tickets.
          • 7 Years Ago
          Hmmmm...I didn't know that following state laws was so un-American.
        • 7 Years Ago
        LOL dude you're hilarious! You know that traveling at 50 on highways posted 55 and 65 is legal right?
        Just last week I saw a guy coming off the on ramp and inserting himself infront of a semi going 65. No place for the truck to go cause a SUV was in the next lane passing. Only thing the truck driver could do is mash the brakes. The hitch was swerving, puting the SUV and all of us behind him in danger.

        Point is the old douche was doing the "legal" speed. Was it safe? HELL NO. So forgive me for breaking the law doing 75. But I'm not putting others in danger more then that old bastard doing 50.
        • 7 Years Ago
        How did America survive before the oil "problem" of the 70's? Sure I wasn't born back then but wasn't the speed limit for most of the US 75?
        75 IMO is a nice speed. Not too fast not too slow.
        I don't get how a we can say the speed limit is 55 or 65 when everyone on the highway is doing 70-80mph? It's obviously a sort of vote of hands... well a vote of right feet in this case. It might not be the proper way to go, but when the minority IMPOSES their way on the majority, it is not a democracy anymore.
        In the end though it's not high up there on the need-to-do list.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here's a hint on how to get rid of these fines....

      Only 3% of all traffic tickets are contested.

      Folks, you NEED to contest those tickets, even if you are likely to loose. Otherwise, there is NO COST to raising the fines.

      On a side note, I have won every single ticket I have ever contested, including one that was a LIDAR ticket. There is help in how to contest tickets from http://www.motorists.org and, if you are in California, http://www.helpigotaticket.com/

      A couple of quick tips:

      1. Always read the ticket and check which section of the code you are charged with, some of them are really hard to prove (like 'driving too fast for the conditions').

      2. There is another set of road rules you should look at, the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices). This sets the rules for lights, lane markings, etc, and what is on the road is almost always in violation of these rules.

      3. In many states, you can actually fight tickets by mail. If you do this, you can also subpoena evidence (esp. speed studies from that section of road and the officers notes [often on the back of the ticket]) from the prosecution, which they will almost always ignore, making for an instant dismissal.

      4. Even if you have the option of traffic school, fight the ticket. You can always ask for traffic school later.

      HTH, and good luck fighting those tickets.
        G-man
        • 7 Years Ago
        dude i had a cop lower the speed so my license wouldn't be suspended (24 or over in ga is immediate suspension for drivers under 21) i cant believe i could've gotten the ticket thrown out.

        cop lowered me to 23 over instead of 24. I should have never been going 94 mph on the highway. I'm glad i got that ticket.

        but it would've been cool to save those 225 dollars plus 2 days of community service plus two days in court, but now i don't speed and get much better gas mileage.

        • 7 Years Ago
        One you forgot---- When the "Helpful" officer writes you up for less than he says you were doing. He just perjured himself. Works everytime.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Went to Washington & Lee U. in Lexington, VA, and going through Fairfax, VA was always scary because of overzealous speed traps. I never got a ticket in my sluggish Plymouth, but some of my classmates had Fairfax stories to tell--and this was almost 50 years ago!

      Unreasonable speed restrictions are inexcusable and don't promote safe driving--just frustration and bursts of bad driving to pass the slow movers.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well, I guess Virginia is off the travel list. Like most people, I like to vacation to different states every once in a while, perhaps for a weekend getaway. Fly in, rent a car, see the sights, and just relax. The last thing I want is be worrying about a $1,250 ticket and a court date.

      So, I guess my money, as spent on hotels, restaurants, car rentals, airport... not yours anymore Virginia. Smart move.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I could be wrong, but I believe that those increased fines in Virginia only apply to Virginia residents. So, if you don't have a Virginia license or file taxes there, you don't have to worry about these inflated fines.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The VA fines only affect VA residents.
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