Should Officers Have Traffic Ticket Quotas?
The debate of whether or not to have traffic ticket quotas is a touchy subject. While departments may see it as a way to promote productivity, officers often feel pressured to give tickets when they’re unwarranted in order to reach monthly or weekly quotas. Some states have outlawed ticket requirements and some resist talking about the issue, but other areas still put officers in the difficult position of reaching a certain number of tickets or arrests each month.
Part of the reason why government agencies care about how many traffic tickets are written is because the majority of the fines go directly back to the state. Fees and fines are used to pay for many of South Carolina’s courts and training academies for police officers. While some experts state that there are no longer quotas in place, there are still several agencies that feel pressured and officers who claim to be required to write a certain amount of tickets each month. Rural areas often rely heavily on fees to fund their departments.
In South Carolina, more than half of each ticket can go to state surcharges. The fee for traffic violations is often low but increases with surcharges added on that are to be given to the state. In fact, some courts have a mandatory $5 fee added on to each ticket that goes straight to the police training academy. While each municipality has some control over the cost of certain tickets, the state does require additional charges and recommends that each fine be increased to the maximum possible amount. For example, while a driver who receives a ticket for speeding 13 miles over the speed limit might be written a ticket that has a $25-$50 local fine, the required state additions will increase that amount to $81-$133. While these added surcharges may hurt drivers financially, they benefit the state and local agencies and may be the driving force for leaders to encourage traffic ticket quotas. On the other hand, the fine for a traffic ticket serves as a deterrent to reckless driving and traveling at unsafe speeds and the law should be enforced uniformly. Motorists passing through a small town often view a sudden reduction in the speed limit as a speed trap, while residents of that town may see this as a necessary safety precaution.