6/12/2007Louisiana: Audit Reveals Speed Trap Data
A legislative audit begins to take some account of the number of speed traps operating in the state of Louisiana.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor released a report last Wednesday attempting to document the amount of money small towns collect from motorists. The state legislature initiated the investigation last year citing concern that the speed trap reputation of a number of communities could harm tourism. The legislature ordered the audit to find, "the extent to which speed limits and their enforcement in municipalities are based more on revenue generation rather than public safety."
Many towns failed to cooperate, claiming the relevant records were maintained only on paper and stored in boxes. The auditor complained that even when towns did provide information, he was often unable to square the figures with conflicting data from the state police and judiciary, both of which are supposed to receive information on every ticket issued. Without reliable data, the auditor was unable to report figures about how much money speed traps bring in statewide.
"In the seven instances where data was available from all three sources, the numbers have wide discrepancies," the auditor wrote. "After identifying such discrepancies, we had to conclude that the data is unreliable."
Nonetheless, the report documented how a number of towns like Baskin, Georgetown, Lillie and Robeline made more than 85 percent of their general budget revenue from tickets. At least fifteen localities made more than half their revenue from tickets.
Louisiana has no law prohibiting speed traps, and municipalities are allowed to use "mayor's courts" where the presiding officer in speeding cases also controls the budget that receives the fine revenue. The Ohio legislature is currently considering a ban on mayor's courts.
The full audit report is available in a 459k PDF file at the source link below.
Top Louisiana Speed Traps, FY 2005Source: Excessive Fine Enforcement (Louisiana Legislative Auditor, 6/6/2007)
Rank Municipality Per Capita Fine 1. Baskin $1719 2. Sicily Island $1517 3. Georgetown $781 4. Dodson $776 5. Woodworth $706 6. Delta $526 7. Lillie $508 8. Washington $370 9. Livonia $349 10. Port Barre $288
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