Stuffing City Coffers by Increasing Traffic Citations

Recently, a person who shall remain nameless, was visiting her family in the Midwest.  She was out driving with her mother and was subsequently pulled over by a police offer three blocks from her mother’s house.  The alleged offender was given a $200.00USD traffic citation for not yielding to a school bus. Now, not yielding to a school bus is a serious violation, but the only problem is that neither she, nor her mother, ever saw a school bus!  Was there ever a school bus?  Or was this a virtual stickup with a badge and a ticket book?

The officer didn’t say why she had pulled over the alleged offender until she saw her out of state license.  Then, the officer apologized said they are really starting to “crack down on school bus violations” because so many people are not properly yielding to the buses.

Did the officer mean crack down on actual violators — or people with out of state licenses?

That explanation from the officer rings a little strange in the telling.  If a person has truly violated the rules of a school bus on the road — why dither and explain and “crack down” now?  Why not say, “you were in violation, so you’re getting a ticket” before looking at the driver license?  Why not enforce the law from the start so there’s no need to crack down later?

When the alleged violator was given the $200 ticket, she lost her breath for a second at the high price of the fine.  The officer laughed and said “you got off easy because, across the river, the fine for parking in a handicapped spot just increased from $200 to $700.”

Ah.

Now we may have discovered the unwitting reasoning and the non-transparent rationale for the “crack down.”  The bad economy is snuffing small Midwestern cities, and one way to generate daily revenue is to “crack down” on imaginary violators from out of town and fine them a lot of money to help sustain the city core.

Ticketing out of towners is effective because they can’t appear in person to fight the ticket in court, and they have to pay with a credit card from far away to avoid getting a warrant for their arrest later. That’s precisely what happened to our anonymous friend. We paid the citation and griped about it every second of the credit card payment transaction.

4 comments

  • What an outrage. I’m sorry to hear about your anonymous friend’s insane ticket. It’s so unfair and when police get excited over an out of state license you know something’s wrong. Judging by how often people go to online forums to get information about getting out of paying such tickets you know it happens a little too often for comfort — and all in the name of padding the police department’s budget.

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    • Yes, it’s disappointing, especially since my un-named friend grew up in that neighborhood and she knows there’s a school nearby. Her mother has lived in the same house near that school for 50 years. They both know all about the school buses. The fact that both of them didn’t see a school bus just confirms something unsavory was happening that day — but how can you fight it? You’re near a school. You were stopped. There’s no way to prove the existence of a school bus when there wasn’t one — but the burden of proof is actually on the accused in this case and not the accuser.

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  • Scary, I am afraid to rent a car when I travel to the US or even some parts of Europe. I have to admit that Gibraltar has the most quiet and mundane traffic in the entire Western World and southern Spain really is not serious – and in Morocco though it is a bit dangerous, the policing of traffic is weak (or after money like in your land!! SMILE).

    D Charles QC
    Gibraltar

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    • You’re smart to be afraid! SMILE!

      There’s a TV show in the USA called “Parking Wars” that follows traffic cops on the beat and it covers the the impound lots in Philadelphia and Michigan. It’s all a bit of a scam to earn city dollars. The traffic violations are clear, but once they have your car, they spin you around for as much money as they can squeeze from you:

      http://www.aetv.com/parking-wars/

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