Speeding Tickets: Cash Cow

Without the money generated by traffic tickets, most small towns could not afford a police department. In this way, small towns are all alike. Although the state of Texas can fine cities that obtain over 30% of their revenue from tickets, these audits don’t necessarily happen. David Viscarde, a former volunteer municipal court judge for the small town of Calvert, says “The mindset of most small towns—including Calvert, and I can only speak for Calvert—is ‘After all, we’re only Calvert, who’s going to know?’ The problem is, I knew.”

Viscarde quit his position after being forced to deal with what he called an “excessive” number of speeding tickets. He says he felt pressure from city officials to push speeding tickets through court. Calvert falls in what is referred to as the “Texas Triangle,” a clump of small towns in central Texas that issue a disproportionate amount of tickets relative to the number of people living in each town. In some small towns, one officer is often responsible for writing tickets only, for the sole purpose of generating revenue. “Their municipal court is their cash cow,” says Viscarde.

Viscarde says that small towns count on the fact that people will not take their tickets to court, and will simply pay the fine. The ironic twist is that Calvert does not have a prosecutor, so they are unable to try cases anyway. Viscarde was simply fed up with the “tidal wave” of speeding tickets that would cover his desk each Monday, and felt that there were better ways he should be spending his time.

It is important to remember that a ticket is only an accusation that you violated a traffic law. The ticket does not prove your guilt. That is what the State of Texas must prove in court before you can be convicted. By mailing in the ticket and fees, you are pleading guilty. If you have received a citation, contact a traffic ticket attorney to discuss your options. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you understand what is at stake.

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