The logistics make speeding in Rosepine, New Llano, Anacoco and Hornbeck a losing proposition for many motorists.
Taking a chance driving over the limit in larger jurisdictions with many streets to patrol means lower odds of getting caught; lead-footing it on U.S. 171, the North-South pass-through artery of the four Vernon municipalities, is pushing your luck.
Whether the quartet are speed traps or diligent enforcers of the law is a matter of perspective. Many who have received tickets think the former; residents and officials the latter.
New Llano perhaps sits at the forefront of dissatisfaction. “Most who come in to pay their ticket don’t argue that they weren’t speeding, they just argue with being caught at it. So, don’t speed,” said one official, who preferred being nameless.
“Hope they are satisfied. They got my money in their trap,” said a social media post.
The four municipalities dispute that they are what is generally viewed as a speed trap. Officials point out the change in speed limits is clearly marked at reasonable distance and patrols don’t hide in wait to ambush drivers.
“We sit out on the side of the highway. We don’t hide,” said a patrolman.
He said the assertion that officers are encouraged to write a certain number of tickets is not so.
Under Louisiana law that would be illegal, he noted. Municipalities and departments are prohibited from established or maintaining “formal or informal” policies requiring or suggesting a number of any type or combination of types of arrests or traffic citations.
Based on comments on social media, the general public seems to think the four are propping up their revenues with traffic court revenue. Legislative audits shed light on that.
The most recent audit shows Rosepine received $227,000 in fines and forfeitures in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. That’s about one-third the General Fund income. However, $206,000 of that was used to pay public safety expenses.
In New Llano, fines and fees totaled $598,000 of $1.56 million General Fund income, with public safety expense at $681,000.
Anacoco had fines and fees income of $100,000, with public safety expenses at $84,000. The General Fund revenue was $263,400.
Hornbeck’s fines and forfeitures income was $26,500, with public safety expense at $18,500. The General Fund revenue totaled $188,000.
Once they have a ticket, many drivers are incensed when they have to pay the freight.
Base fines are set by ordinance, with court costs added according to state law. There is a list of mandatory charges, added by the Legislature by separate votes. That ranges from $16 to about $60, depending on size of the municipality.
Every municipality in Louisiana is entitled to levy costs of $30 per citation. Anacoco ($20), New Llano ($40) and Rosepine ($30) can add more, according to specific state statues, and they do.
Louisiana is an “absolute speed limits” state, meaning it is among those that enforce limits beginning at 1 mph over the posted maximum.
Many jurisdictions do not write citations until a vehicle is clocked five miles per hour or over the limit.
Rosepine, Anacoco and Hornbeck have no fine schedule for speeding less than 10 mph over. New Llano does.
A New Llano official said motorists not driving erratically, turning incorrectly, etc. are probably not going to get stopped at less than 5 mph over. Over 5 is a different story.