It appears that what many have suspected for years, has now been made public—and a Waldo, Florida police chief has been suspended as a result. In 2012, The National Motorists Association ranked Waldo, located 125 miles north of Orlando, third in its annual under-50,000 population listing of “Worst Speed Trap Cities” in America. Five police officers spoke to the town’s city councilors, stating officers are under a directive to issue at least 12 traffic tickets per 12-hour shift. The revenues from these speeding tickets constitute anywhere from a quarter to a full half of the city’s annual revenues, and even City Manager Kim Worley admitted that the small town of Waldo has had a reputation as a speed trap for over five decades.
When asked about whether officers were required to issue a dozen speeding tickets per shift, however, Worley hedged, stating some officers might have “misinterpreted” a mandate to “file12 pieces of paper” as a requirement to issue 12 tickets. Officer Brandon Roberts, offered proof to the contrary in the form of an electronic presentation and printed e-mails showing Chief Mike Szabo directed officers to write 12 tickets per 12-hour shift or “face punishment.” The officers apparently decided to speak up after losing faith in the chain of command, and Szabo, Police Chief since 2007, was suspended on August 12th.
Over 100 pages of documents were filed by the officers to substantiate their claims. One officer stated he delivered an end-of-shift report to Chief Szabo on June 18th in which he reported writing five tickets. Officer Brian Shoaf received an e-mail in return from Szabo stating, “Seems like you have some work to do when you come in.”
As drivers approach Waldo on U.S. Highway 301, traveling the posted 65 mph, signs quickly reduce the speed limit to 55, then 45, then 35 within a relatively short distance. City Manager Worley claims the speed limit signs are marked clearly and the police officers are not concealing themselves in order to catch speeders.
Are Speed Traps and Ticket Quotas Legal?
Many question the legality of speed traps, however according to Florida law, so long as the police officer conducts the traffic stop and subsequent citation as he would under any other circumstances, speed traps are valid. Ticket quotas, however, are a clear violation of Florida law. Florida Statute 316.640 (2) states: An agency of the state as described in subparagraph 1 is prohibited from establishing a traffic citation quota…
Getting Help from an Experienced Speeding Ticket Defense Attorney
If you were one of the many motorists targeted as part of a speeding citation quota, it could be beneficial for you to speak to a an experienced lawyer who handles speeding tickets to discuss your options. Our attorneys consistently fight for the rights of our clients, whether for a speeding violation or something more serious, and we believe municipalities must follow Florida laws in the same way residents are required to do so. Call a Florida speeding ticket attorney today and let us use our experience and knowledge to fight your speeding ticket!