RICHMOND, Va. – Local speed traps on the interstate just to raise money for town coffers could be a thing of the past in Virginia. It is a practice that has raised a lot of ire across the state.
Buried in the $85 billion budget package approved by the General Assembly late Wednesday is a provision that bans local towns from setting up such interstate speed traps just to collect revenue.
The town of Hopewell, Va., south of Richmond, sits along Interstate 295. It was so good at enforcing speeding laws along the interstate that officers there generated $150,000 a month in traffic tickets.
The change doesn’t stop the local police from enforcing speeding laws.
“For all intents and purposes, this provision, tucked away into the state budget, should largely remove the profit motive from this type of enforcement,” says AAA’s Mid-Atlantic spokesman Lon Anderson.
The auto club lobbied to ban local towns from setting up speed traps on interstate highways.
The state police still patrol the Interstates for speeders.
Money collected from traffic fines and fees is supposed to go to the state Literacy Fund.
In 2010, Virginia collected $101 million in speeding ticket fines and fees.
But $64.8 million went into the coffers of local governments and not the Literacy Fund because the tickets were issued by local police under local traffic laws.
The new rules will still allow local police to issue tickets to speeders on the interstate, but they can no longer set up speed traps just to collect the revenue.
There is some concern that local police will get around this provision in the name of public safety.