The Florida Legislature has passed a bill making it illegal for police departments to institute traffic-ticket quotas.
The Florida House unanimously passed a bill that outlaws law enforcement agencies from instituting traffic-ticket quotas, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The legislation, which has already passed the Senate, now heads to the governor's desk for final approval. The bill is a response to a scandal that has plagued the now-disbanded police department of Waldo, where traffic tickets accounted for 60 percent of the police department's budget. Such traffic offenses, although seen as merely an inconvenience by many motorists, can lead to serious consequences for some individuals, including insurmountable debt and license suspensions.
Senate Bill 264, otherwise known as the "Waldo Bill," will make it illegal for police departments to create quotas for traffic tickets. The bill will also make it mandatory for cities or counties to alert state authorities if more than a third of their law enforcement's budget comes from traffic tickets.
Although a ban on traffic-ticket quotas had already been in place, the new bill clarifies the current prohibition and introduces extra safeguards. If the proposed legislation is ultimately signed by Gov. Rick Scott then it will go into effect July 1.
The bill is a response to an investigation into the scandal-plagued police department of Waldo. The city had developed a reputation for being one of the country's worst speed traps after the Gainesville Sun reported that 60 percent of the city's police department budget was coming from traffic tickets. Disgruntled officers in the police department had accused the police chief of introducing traffic-ticket quotas.
The scandal led to an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which found that the police department provided inadequate measures for proper evidence collection and storage. The investigation led to a number of members of the police department resigning, including the police chief. The issue eventually led to the Waldo City Council disbanding the small police department outright late last year.
Although receiving a traffic ticket certainly doesn't appear to carry the same consequences as being charged with a more serious offense, the fact is that over time traffic offenses can add up and become very serious problems. For people who cannot afford to pay them, traffic tickets can lead to insurmountable debt and credit problems. For those who have accrued enough penalty points then these offenses can even lead to a license suspension.
As a result, traffic offenses should be taken seriously since they can eventually lead to long-term consequences. Before simply paying for a traffic ticket, a defense attorney should be consulted to find out what potential legal options may exist to fight a traffic violation.
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