A disturbing trend throughout the country involving police agencies and small fines has become entrenched in small towns. The trend involves police departments relying on small fines and other fees to fund their operating budgets and it has become a dangerous one. These towns are financing their local governments by issuing thousands of small fines and fees for minor traffic violations and New Jersey is not exempt from this practice. There are 18 municipalities, townships or boroughs throughout New Jersey who follow this practice.
Why is This Practice in Place?
The practice of generating millions of dollars in fines and fees by hundreds of police departments across the country has become popular because of the views against raising taxes. Many locations across the country make it politically challenging to raise taxes as residents vehemently oppose these increases to support emergency services.
Difference Between Fines and Fees
There is a big difference between fines and fees. For starters, fines are issued by police officers to those who violate traffic laws. Fees are in no way related to fines. Fees are assessed by local and state governments in an effort to fund different programs, including police motorcycle units, supplemental police retirement funds and injury trust funds. The fees are assessed for mandatory drug testing, a jury trial and monthly parole meetings. The fees assessed then accrue interest if they are unpaid.
Money from Fines and Fees Built Into Budgets
Many municipalities across the country, including New Jersey, add line items into their budgets annually for money raised from fines and fees. Many towns in the state rely on this money every year to fund different programs because they are tourist destinations with very little year-round populations. Fines are issued to the thousands of visitors who flood these towns every summer. For example, Sea Isle City, North Wildwood and Wildwood all made the list for 2018. Other shore towns on the list are Beach Haven, Ship Bottom, Seaside Park, Seaside Heights, Sea Girt, Lake Como Borough, Belmar, Asbury Park, Allenhurst, Deal and Sea Bright.
An Uncertain Fiscal Future
All of the towns that rely on fines and fees as part of their annual operating budget face an uncertain fiscal future. Why? As technology continues to advance, cars are getting closer to autonomy, which means fines for traffic violations like speeding and other offenses will more than likely drop in volume. This has become a major concern for municipalities that rely on this money for their operations as they face quite an uncertain fiscal future.
Are Officers Pressured to Write Tickets?
The biggest concern regarding fines and fees centers around the pressure police officers might feel to write more tickets in an effort to raise the revenue of the town in which they work. Ridgetop, Tennessee was investigated recently and it was discovered that an illegal ticket quota was in place for the officers. The same was discovered in Mount Enterprise, Texas, where a municipal clerk was found to have been pushing a ticket quota. Another concern is that officers spend too much time looking for traffic violations in order to issue fines instead of focusing on more pressing matters, such as solving violent crimes.
Contact an Experienced Traffic Violations Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Traffic Violations Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with traffic violations in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Stephen R. Piper have successfully represented clients charged with traffic violations in Camden, Cherry Hill, Evesham, Moorestown and throughout New Jersey. Call 856-351-5335 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 212 W Route 38, Suite 440 in Moorestown, NJ 08057.
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