Fining Lawbreakers? Or are Speed Traps about making money for someone else?

A few years ago, I got pulled over in Limestone. Actually – BEFORE the infamous “Speed Trap” that everyone talks about.

I had just exited the expressway, and was on 219, traveling slower than the flow of traffic. I know I was speeding. So I’ll ADMIT that I know I was speeding. Here’s the deal. With the angle of the sun, I couldn’t see the numbers really well, but I could see my needle. I’m guessing I was going over 60 and under 65 in a 55 mile an hour zone, with cars ahead of me going faster, and a car passing me on the left.

As I drove, I saw a Sheriff’s deputy turning from the other side of the highway, and immediately stepped on my brakes as a reaction. As I looked down, I saw my speed drop to 55.  When I stepped on my brakes, he was still traveling northbound.

The police officer pulled in behind me, passing two other southbound cars to do so – and pulled me over.

He told me I was going 71.
I respectfully disagreed, and told him that I would be protesting it in court.

So I had to reschedule my first hearing, and showed up a couple months later. I was the first person in the door, and was told they usually see people in a first come/first served order.

And yet, I watched and listened as about 30 people were called ahead of me. A couple people were cited for commercial violations. Another was cited for driving 55 in the 40.

But the overwhelming majority of the folks were asked to approach, where the judge talked as quiet as he could – but loud enough that we all heard him. Many of the defendants said, “I know I was speeding, but I wasn’t going 71 miles per hour.”

The judge then cited them with “failure to obey a traffic sign” and charged them each $100.

Meanwhile, the officer who wrote my ticket comes in, and I hear him say to the clerk (again, attempting to be discreet) “Thanks for calling me. Man, I forgot all about this!”

The way I understand it – if a police officer doesn’t show up for a hearing – the ticket is thrown out. But – instead of letting that scenario play itself out – they made me wait till the end of the evening, and they called the officer in from home to prosecute me.

He pulled me aside for a “pre-trial conference” and I again affirmed, that I was speeding, but I wasn’t going the speed he said that I was. He offered to lessen the charge to “failure to obey a traffic sign” – a charge with which I was admittedly guilty – and then I went in and saw the judge who lowered my fine to $100.

There were dozens of others that day – all CONTESTING a 71 mile an hour ticket – who were all given a $100 fine and a lesser charge.

I have also never seen an accident on the stretch of road from the stateline to Route 86. Ever. A flat tire once. Lots of traffic tickets being written. Some crazy guy driving a nice sedan down on the railroad tracks. But I’ve NEVER seen an accident on that stretch of road.

The question I have about Limestone / Carrollton is this:

Is this area so heavily enforced, with poorly marked signage, solely to raise funds? Do the police frequent here at the request of state/county/local lawmakers? Is the problem with speed, or with poor signage? Or is the problem that someone is TRYING to make their budgets out of speed enforcement?

I think that safety is important. Certainly, if the state can prove that the area needs reduced speed to keep the safety, I’m all for that. But my guess is – this area has been proven to be a source of speeding ticket income, and so it’s been intentionally given poor signage, and thuggish enforcement.