Utah House approves bill that would outlaw ticket quotas

| 2/4/2008

A bill halfway through the Utah statehouse is intended to prevent law enforcement officers from going on ticket writing sprees.

State law now sends 65 percent of revenue from traffic citations to the Legislature. The money goes for use in 13 programs. The rest is split evenly between the municipality where the ticket was issued and the law enforcement agency that issued the ticket.

The House voted 39-31 to advance a bill to the Senate that would prohibit all law enforcement agencies in the state from setting traffic ticket quotas. The protection also would apply to complaints and warning notices.

Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, is trying to pass the bill for the second time. It stalled in a Senate committee a year ago.

Before this year’s House vote, Hansen told lawmakers he had firsthand knowledge that officers in Ogden City are required to write a certain number of tickets. In testimony, his daughter recounted an incident where she was pulled over with her father for changing lanes without signaling and was told by an officer there is a quota, the Deseret Morning News reported.

Police chiefs opposed to the bill say it would strip them of their ability to require reluctant officers to write tickets when necessary. They want to maintain local control rather than have the state step in to dictate management of local law enforcement issues.

Supporters of the measure say there’s a difference between telling officers to write a certain number of tickets and telling them to write all the infractions they see. Others say that if chiefs have officers who refuse to write tickets, the problem is with the officers who refuse to enforce the laws – not the lack of a ticket quota.

The bill – HB264 – is awaiting consideration in the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Utah in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor