D.C. Increases Traffic Ticket Costs

June 1, 2010

The Washington Examiner reports on the new price of tickets in the district:

Mayor Adrian Fenty approved increasing 71 traffic fines as wells as raising various business fees as part of an effort to balance the city’s budget. The increases are projected to generate about $7 million this fiscal year, which ends in September.

D.C. Traffic Fines:

Infraction

Old fine

New fine

Speeding 11 to 15 mph

$50

$125

Speeding 16 to 20 mph

$100

$150

Speeding 21 to 25 mph

$150

$200

Speeding over 25 mph

$200

$250

Driving too slow

$15

$50

Broken speedometer

$25

$75

No running lights

$25

$75

Failure to yield

$25

$100

Violating “No turn on red” signs

$50

$100

Operating with high beams on

$25

$75

Rolling right turn at red light

$50

$100

Coasting

$15

$75

Interfering with traffic when pulling from curb

$25

$100

Not having windshield wipers

$25

$75

Failing to secure loads

$50

$250

Passing a stopped school bus that has lights flashing

$50

$50

It is a mistake to increase the cost of tickets to raise more revenue. And while I’m sure Fenty would deny that this is what is happening, I doubt anyone in D.C. would believe him. Governments are not meant to raise revenue, they are meant to enforce laws. If citizens begin to see laws as arbitrary—like paying $250 instead of $50 for failing to tie a red flag to an oversized load—then they lose trust and respect for law enforcement. Not to mention we get bad laws. One might argue that you don’t have to pay the ticket if you abide by the law (or if you’re D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas). But then why not make the fines in the thousands? If the government were to enforce every law it would cripple society. There should be proportionality when determining the amount of fines. And government budgets should not be in the equation.


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