Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Ticket traps a concern nationwide

Georgia lawmakers grappled earlier this year with how to address cities that were operating known speed traps.

Ultimately, the General Assembly passed SB 134, which tightened the state's existing speed trap law by lowering the percentage of a law enforcement agency's budget that can come from speeding ticket revenue from 40 to 35 percent. However, tickets issued for traveling in excess of 20 mph over the limit don't count toward that 35 percent threshold. The law took effect July 1, so it may be a while before its effects will be known.

Georgia's not alone in trying to deal with overly aggressive traffic cops. Three other states — Florida, Missouri and Virginia — also passed laws this year to limit the amount of revenue municipalities can generate from traffic enforcement. Those measures were prompted by notorious speed traps that gained national attention, like Waldo, Fla., and Hopewell, Va.

The Missouri law came about after reporters linked some of the civil unrest in Ferguson to aggressive traffic enforcement in that city and other towns nearby — enforcement that led to high fines and then arrests when the violators couldn’t pay.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week published an analysis of over 500 cities and counties in Georgia that showed which police departments were generating the most money not just from speeding ticket revenue, but from all types of traffic ticket fines.

To see the full report, click here.

To see a map of the 50 worst ticket traps in Georgia, click on this link.

Or, click here to see a searchable database where you can look up how much money your city made from traffic tickets last year.

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