Louisiana Legislature would rein in speed traps

| 6/29/2009

A bill on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk is intended to discourage small towns in Louisiana from relying on traffic tickets to fill local coffers.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill targeting communities without home rule charters that have police patrol spots on interstates and issue tickets as a way to generate revenue. House lawmakers already endorsed the bill – HB626 – by a 72-13 vote.

Sponsored by Rep. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston, the measure doesn’t prohibit speed traps but it requires that in affected areas where tickets are issued for driving less than 10 mph over the speed limit, revenues from the tickets would be routed to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. The commission would spend the money on highway safety programs.

Supporters say the protections are needed to dissuade towns from relying on speeding tickets to generate revenue. Such activities discourage travel and commerce throughout the state, they say.

Others say they want to rein in communities that use their police departments to “pester” nonresident drivers with unreasonable ticketing.

Opponents say if drivers want to avoid getting tickets in so-called “speed traps,” they should slow down.

Owner-operator and OOIDA member Chuck Guintard of Lake Charles, LA, said there are towns in the state that are known speed traps. He said “it would be a good thing” if they were to lose some of their incentive to write tickets.

“If you think about it, they don’t write tickets to protect and to serve. It’s to make money. That’s all it’s for,” Guintard told Land Line.

However, Guintard also points out that while there are communities that need to be reined in there are others that would be needlessly lumped in and negatively affected by the legislation.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.