Speed controls, traffic tickets and the intimidation factor
The beautiful state of Florida is without a doubt one of the most popular vacation spots in the United States. Not only people from other states flock here to vacation, but also people from all over the world come to the Sunshine State. When planning their vacations, these tourists have certain images in mind about what they will see and what they can expect while visiting. here. Beautiful white sand beaches, voluminous sun, blue skies, and swaying palm trees – these are ideal for a subtropical vacation. Of course, there are other images that come to mind that are less pleasant, such as traffic … a lot, a lot of traffic.
Although no one likes having to deal with traffic, it is just one of the drawbacks of living or visiting such a popular place and as we all know, where there is traffic, there are police. Choose your agency: sheriff’s department, state patrol, city police; everyone has a stake in taking advantage of the frustration drivers feel and the actions they take as a result of the congestion that we all have to deal with.
Attacking drivers may seem a bit harsh, but what better way to explain the actions of law enforcement agencies in their tireless efforts to catch drivers who commit even the slightest traffic offenses? The tactics police officers use to do so are often questionable at best. Whether those tactics are speed traps, ticket quotas, or intimidation, I think very few people would disagree that traffic ticket stops have taken a dramatic turn and not in favor of unsuspecting drivers.
Let’s start with the speed traps. We have all seen them and many of us have been victims of them because they can settle in many places along roads and even in the air. Whether the speed trap is located behind a bridge abutment, on an overpass, or along the shoulder of the road, this is just a sneaky way to catch unsuspecting drivers. I have even seen medians that are beautifully landscaped with trees, flowers and shrubs planted that way to allow police officers to wait for speeding vehicles without being seen until you pass them. Medians are probably one of the most frequent hiding places for officers because they are plentiful and allow police officers to take off in any direction to follow a speeding driver.
Often times, drivers who run into speed controls don’t even realize they are speeding until it is too late. We’re humming, thinking about that big project at work or the kids’ softball games, so lo! We see the not-so-friendly officer sitting in his car behind an overpass running board with his radar or LIDAR pointed directly at us.
Why would police officers be so diligent in detecting those who are speeding? Your diligence is often the result of traffic ticket fees, of course. Law enforcement agencies widely deny the existence of traffic ticket quotas because, let’s face it, this concept generates bad press for the police. Quotas give the public the impression that cops are crafty, and rightly so. If they weren’t sneaky in their attempts to catch the sliders, the speed traps mentioned above wouldn’t exist.
The reasons for traffic ticket fees are varied, but the main reason is income. Despite vehement denials from the police, there has been a significant increase in the number of traffic tickets issued in the last two decades that outpaces the increase in the number of drivers on the road. This denies the defense that there is a correlation between population expansion and the volume of traffic tickets issued.
Additionally, there has been more than one city or town that has made national news because its police force has been found to have been instructed to issue X number of fines. That’s right, it’s your job to meet the quotas because, many times, the revenue generated from these traffic tickets covers budget deficits. Those who demand that these tickets be issued are the same people whose wages are paid from this income.
Then there is the issue of bullying. I don’t know if this is a planned practice among law enforcement agencies or if it is just a matter of the state of affairs these days. It seems that we hear about a conflict between the policeman and the driver almost every day. There are drivers who simply do not cooperate with the officers when they are stopped. They can be rude, obnoxious, and / or uncooperative. This, however, doesn’t really make any difference to police officers than to anyone else whose job requires them to deal with the public. If you’ve ever worked in a customer service oriented industry, you know that often when someone feels like they are paying their salary, they expect to be treated in a certain way. This is often how drivers feel when they think they have been unfairly stopped by “a public servant.”
There is the problem that the police force a traffic stop only to find out, sometimes in a very dangerous way, that a criminal has been arrested. A sudden move or aggressive action can be a contributing cause to all the stories we’ve read about conflicts that occur between drivers and officers. You end up with cops who weren’t attentive enough and citizens who felt like they were just exercising their civil rights and didn’t come home at the end of the day. Families and even communities are devastated by such tragedies.
All of these things likely contribute to intimidating conduct by law enforcement, but these are often the exceptions. Most drivers who are stopped generally do not know why they have been stopped or have committed an offense that actually represents little or no pleasure to others. It may be true that when a police officer stops someone, it may be looking for criminals, but that’s a bad excuse to treat everyone as one. It is easy to understand why the average citizen would be offended to be treated in such a way, since most of us just go about our daily lives when we are stopped.
I don’t know the statistics, but I’m willing to bet that the number of drivers attacking or even resisting a police officer during a traffic stop is a small fraction of the number of traffic stops that are made each day. However, most traffic stops appear to involve a police officer who is gruff, unfriendly, and inflexible in his decision to draft that traffic ticket. If you are pulled over for speeding or any other traffic violation, don’t “resist.” Be polite; do not admit your guilt by saying yes, you know why you were detained; and then call us at 954-967-9888 for your free consultation. Not only do you have the right to a fair defense, but you also have the right to be treated with respect and not like a criminal.