Louisiana law reins in speed traps

| 7/9/2009

Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill intended to discourage small cities and towns in Louisiana from relying on traffic tickets to fill local coffers.

Previously HB626, the new law targets communities without home rule charters that have police patrol spots on interstates and issue tickets as a way to generate revenue.

Speed traps are not prohibited in the new law; however, it requires that in affected areas where tickets are issued for driving less than 10 mph over the speed limit, revenue from the tickets be routed to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. The commission would spend the money on highway safety programs.

The new rule takes effect Aug. 15.

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.

Several dozen mayors in the state attempted to persuade the governor to veto the bill. Their concern is that the law discourages active enforcement of the speed laws by local agencies. The ripple effect would lead to more drug traffic along highways, increased fatalities and higher vehicle insurance.

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, others are needlessly lumped in and negatively affected by the law.

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.