By on March 9, 2011

WIZARD… NEEDS… FOOD! Okay, only some of you are the right age to remember where that phrase originated, but if you are, just imagine that same voice saying, SOUTH… CAROLINA… NEEDS… CASH! There’s an $800 million hole in the state budget. If I ran the state, I’d slap a $400 tariff on every smartphone from China that crosses the border and get David Boies to argue that the interstate commerce clause shouldn’t be any part of “the living Constitution”. That’s my awesome idea and I’m excited about it.

Since most of you live in the so-called “real world”, however, you’ve no doubt realized from whence some of this missing money is going to be extorted: the hapless, helpless American motorist.

Fox News reports that the South Carolina legislature is considering creating a $150 no-points ticket for drivers caught going between 1 and 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

But state Rep. Todd Rutherford, a Democratic co-sponsor of the bill, told that the legislation isn’t aimed at closing the deficit. While the local ticketing process would help divert revenues from insurance companies to the cash-strapped state, Rutherford said it’s directed at providing additional protections for motorists.

“My biggest thing is motorists should have an option and law enforcement should have an option,” he said.

Since the current South Carolina law actually requires mandatory roadside lethal injection for drivers caught going 1mph over the limit, it’s a nice option to have. Oh, no, wait. The current penalty isn’t lethal injection. It’s a $15 ticket. Look for countless deadly high-speed chases to ensue as SC motorists choose to flee rather than pay a bill and a half. Or not.

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39 Comments on “Speed A Little, Pay A Lot, Keep It On The DL In SC...”

  • avatar

    I love how they package this stuff in the rhetoric of free choice (so that people might grudgingly swallow it).

    By the way, what’s with the Mountie picture?

  • avatar

    I have little/no respect for the law because all they do is TAX PEOPLE through fines.  When they aren’t pulling in enough revenue, they just make something else either illegal or fineable. After all, they aren’t trying to protect us – they are merely trying to pull in $ and create more jobs for cops.
    Police officer will/do lie in court and the judge is backing the state. If they are willing to give you $15 tickets per mile over the speed limit, what they are really doing is telling you to your face, we are out to f**k you and we will keep coming up with new and better ways to do so.

    Between the sky high gas prices and the fascist pigs, I may end up trading in my SRT8 and my S550 for a Chevy Volt :(

    • 0 avatar

      Gauntlet! Man, that game blew me away the first time I encountered it an arcade. Sadly that also means I’m the right (wrong) age.

    • 0 avatar

      Between the sky high gas prices and the fascist pigs, I may end up trading in my SRT8 and my S550 for a Chevy Volt :(
      Awesome; you do that.

    • 0 avatar

      After all, they aren’t trying to protect us – they are merely trying to pull in $ and create more jobs for cops.

      I wouldn’t go that far.  As a veteran and as a motorist, I have a love/hate relationship for law enforcement.  I know several cops around the four corners area of NM and, for the most part, they lay their asses on the line every day and deal with criminals, idiots, etc.  One of the fathers on my daughter’s soccer team is a city policeman, and he just got nearly killed by a drug crazed woman driving a car and trying to run over him as he was directing traffic.  He’ll be in surgeries and rehab for nearly a year.  Yes, there are the usual power hungry rednecks in uniform, but it’s still a necessary job – a job I would not want.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, if you can’t increase taxes you have to get money somewhere.  Think of it as a reverse lottery.

  • avatar

    Great article.
    I remember my love/addiction of quarter popping Gauntlet at the local comic shop. (which was incidentally later supplanted by by free-basing of Mortal Kombat)

    SC’s use of speed trapping taxpayers is part of a growing and disturbing trend of paying government bills with implied ‘sin’ taxes.  In a country where people pay between $0.01-$0.02/mile on the average to use a road via gas tax, something had to give.  It’s sad that our politicians think so little of us that that they’d rather take  the easy way out with a punishment tax rather than doing the right thing and just adding a nickel (or ten nickels) to the gas tax.

    It’s really sad that this political reality means that a uniformed officer at $60k/year (or more) + benefits must sit on the side of the road in a $40k cruiser and aim a $3k radar at hapless drivers so they can go to court and that probably has a $50/violation overhead cost.  

    • 0 avatar

      SC’s use of speed trapping taxpayers is part of a growing and disturbing trend of paying government bills with implied ‘sin’ taxes.

      This is because America’s tax regime it, frankly, batsh_t insane.

      Instead of a single, monolithic sales and simple income tax, the “fear of government” mantra has pretty much forced the worst of the tax burden on the smallest entities.  So, instead of a VAT, which is automatic and requires hardly any staff to administer, you get city, state, county taxes, tolls for everything under the sun, and a huge bureaucracy duplicated at three or four levels of government to administer it.

      America really needs to grow up in this respect.  Admit that it’s not 1779 any more, that most people live in towns & cities and not on isolated ranches or camping under the stars, and that you need to pay taxes for services and pay them, because it’s your citizenry’s attitude that forces government to try stuff like this.

      I still remember, years ago, my time as a young systems analyst working on an ERP package for a company that did business in the Canada, the US and Europe.  In Canada I had to worry about two taxes, in Europe, maybe one or two per country.  In the US?  Hundreds of combinations.  Madness.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not as if treating traffic safety as a revenue stream is in any way confined to conservative, anti tax backwaters.

      New Jersey has the highest tax burden of any state.  High sales tax, high income tax, obscenely high property tax, high corporate tax.  Yet they still have red light cameras.  Triple ticket surcharges (pay it again every year for 3 years.)  $3000 fines for not paying your surcharge in time.  The NMA rated NJ traffic enforcement as the worst in the country in the most recent rankings, just ahead of (or behind, depending on your way of thinking) Ohio and Maryland.
      It’s not a lack of traditional revenue.  It’s a surplus of unsustainable promises.

    • 0 avatar

      New Jersey has the highest tax burden of any state

      I didn’t say “high”, or “low” or “conservative” or “liberal”.  I said “batshit”.  Batshit recognizes no political, ethnic or class divisions.  It simply is.

      And yes, having a zillion little microtaxes qualifies as “batshit”.

      It’s not a lack of traditional revenue.  It’s a surplus of unsustainable promises.

      In a way, it’s both.  There’s nothing wrong with promising a lot of services.  There’s nothing wrong with taxation.  There’s a lot wrong with back-door, nibbled-to-death-by-ducks taxes that cost almost as much to administer as they return used to fund half-baked programs.

      Programs—government or private—are very much “Go big or go home” affairs: either you commit will, revenue and time to them and they succeed, or you do them underhandedly and off the table and in a compromised fashion and they fail.

    • 0 avatar

      The use of drivers exceeding two numbers to balance budgets on a sign is not limited to the U.S., and it is not caused by anti-tax attitudes in this country. That assertion is false.

      We’ve had this discussion before, and, as was proven during the discussion, fines were HIGHER in many European countries and Canadian provinces.

      Let’s therefore please put this strawman in the field where it belongs. Higher taxes, or more centralized collection, is not going to end speed traps or the endless desire to generate revenue through motorists.

    • 0 avatar

      In a previous discussion on this topic, it was shown that many European nations and Canadian provinces have HIGHER fines than any state in the U.S., and also rely on the revenue from traffic tickets. I’d therefore like to see proof that this phenomenon is driven by anti-tax attitudes in the U.S.

      It’s driven by revenue-hungry governments, plain and simple. Overspending is the problem here.

  • avatar

    In Massachusetts, we have our own little variation of “screw the motorists for cash.” They charge outrageous fees to challenge tickets. Fortunately, a local attorney is going to challenge the fees.

  • avatar

    Typical response of the out of touch elected.  Make up the shortage caused by overspending by punishing a group that can’t send their lobbyist to persuade the lawmakers that this is not the right solution.
    Maybe they should try something different. Lower the fines. That way they could make it up in volume!

  • avatar

    A tax on people who can’t read a speedometer or set their cruise control.    I like it.

    • 0 avatar

      I have to agree.  I’d rather pay a small fine than receive points, anyway.
      We pay the police to enforce the law, so it’s hard to be selective about which laws we want them to enforce.  Selective law enforcement is what happens elsewhere, hopefully not here.
      If the citizens of SC don’t like their speed limits, then they can petition the legislature to change them.

  • avatar

    I don’t think this is (or will remain) unique to South Caroline. Or, uh, the RCMP.

    Word around L.A. is that the officers of the LAPD have been strongly advised to stop issuing warnings and just write tickets any time they pull someone over.

  • avatar

    You know what would be a more effective way of filling the coffers? A gas tax. Yep, I gather that a good gas tax would even be more effective in slowing things down than more enforcements. When gas is expensive people typically slow down to save gas (money), and speed if their time is worth it. I’m talking from personal experience. Where I am (guess where) super has passed the equivalent of $8/gal. So slowing down a bit does save some real dough.
    I know that solution is political suicide, but it still amazes me that no state has tried that solution. Speeding tickets require active police to enforce, while a gas tax is automatic and well programmed. The amount taxed goes up exponentially with the speed that is driven. Hence speed control.
    Sorry for my rant, I’m a little jealous of your cheap gas… a little.

    • 0 avatar

      Here in Canada its 1.21 a litre = 4.60 US gallon. Just came back from a short trip on the highway, and set my gas pig of a Jimmy at the speed limit of 100KPH = 62 MPH. Every description of vehicle from, Smart cars to Explorers,went by me like I was standing still.

    • 0 avatar

      A gas tax will do nothing to slow people down.  Speed is about control, not expense.

  • avatar

    The thing is, those $15 speeding/$5-10 for running a red light (non-camera intersection) or stop sign, and hurting no one turns into a $90 or $100 ticket with all the bullshit fees they tack onto it. So look for those $150 tickets to cost closer to $250 if you actually show up at the Ream-I mean Courthouse to pay.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Ahhh… a special memory of the South Carolina police.
    My father passed away. I was taking my mom and my family to Myrtle Beach when all of a sudden…
    a police car…
    “Sir may I see your license and…”
    I managed to find a speed trap on the way. Mysteriously the speed limit goes down from 50 to 35 at a small stretch of rural property. Just my luck. Especially since I was driving the Barnacle Bitch.
    Got the ticket. Paid the fine after hurting nothing more than air molecules. Felt like pulling off a William Foster.
    But I had kids and a grieving mom. So they screwed me. But someday… someday…

    • 0 avatar

      Nice Falling Down reference – 3rd favorite movie after JAWS and SEVEN
      Last time I was in Cali – I made it a point to stay in Santa Monica so I could walk to the pier in Venice and stand where DFENS (“or Bill as I like to call him”) stood.

  • avatar

    My sympathies, Steven. There are quite a few burgs near the Grand Strand that have reeediculous speed zones that make it nearly impossible to stay at or under the limit, short of slamming on the brakes every 50 yds.
    As a native of SC, I am not surprised by anything that comes out of the state legislature. But the RCMP M5 reminded me that when BMW first came to Spartanburg, they gifted a 2nd gen M5 to the SC Highway Patrol.  The silver w/blue stripes looked nice but the light bar and those strange wheel covers detracted from it.

  • avatar

    I’m betting that in SC this will be most enthusiastically enforced on I-95, the path from Maine to Florida.  Thus the “sin” tax is levied largely among people who are not from South Carolina–it’s probably the most legitimate way for states to tax non-residents.  This approach has been elevated to an art form on the tiny stretch of I-95 that runs through Delaware in in the way DC levies parking fines on cars with VA and MD tags.
    I’m a big believer in cruise control and I’m not in as much of a hurry as when I was younger, so this is not that big a deal to me.  I just sort of shrug and reflect on how in the end it will be the economy that does away with motoring freedom.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    A steal at twice the price!  As I think some of our SoCal B&B can confirm, at various traffic signaled intersections in greater LA, there are signs warning you that busting a red light (and, I presume getting your photo taken) can cost you, IIRC, $473.
    For the snarky commenters who labelled this a fine for not being able to read a speedometer or set a speed control (now seemingly unbiquitous), there’s this fact:  lots of research shows that, for the great majority of drivers, speed is self-limiting.  That is, they drive at a speed appropriate for the conditions, the road, etc.  In fact, that is how speed limits are supposed to be set on highways: they are, in effect, descriptive, not normative.
    Now, I recognize, for a rather large subset of the population, who believes that people will run amok in all kinds of ways unless there’s an encyclopedia of laws and regulations, backed by an aggressive constabulary, to rein them in this concept is no less than a flying pig.
    But, it would be truly useful if our finest in blue on the highways concentrated on the 5 percent who are passing everyone else a triple-digit speeds.  Of course, that would require the use of aerial enforcement to identify targets, coordinated with car on the ground . . . much more work than a radar gun by the side of the road.

  • avatar

    Well said Jack.

  • avatar

    At this point I think they NEED. CASH. BADLY!

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    Hey Jack, why don’t you do a TTAC feature presentation on Alex Roy. That’ll get some people fired up around here.

  • avatar

    I nearly peed my pants when I read the Gauntlet reference.  Nice work!

  • avatar

    This just makes it more likely I’ll win Bingo for tickets in five states in a row.

  • avatar

    My latest Garmin GPS knows many road speed limits and beeps when I exceed them. Within a few years they should be able to have every speed limit and update via WiFi so it’s always accurate. So which of the following is more likely to happen ?
    1/ Authorities mandate everyone has a GPS with speed limit beeps to try to prevent another texting teen from getting run over.
    2/ Authorities ban such devices because traffic violation revenue has diminished so much.

    • 0 avatar

      My guess is they try #2. Banning things is what these personality defectives do.
      Note the future Garmin++ will be even better. Add meta traffic data like min/max/average/variance of vehicles’ speed; add real time radar-trap locations from the next-gen networked radar detectors. Speeding tickets will slowly become something relegated to the technologically unwashed.

  • avatar

    I have nothing but respect for LEOs that protecting the public and investigating crime but when they are engaged in purely revenue generating activities such as a speed trap they disgust me. I live in Tampa and at the end of every month the Hillsborough county sheriff’s office sets up a speed trap in a CVS parking lot. They got me at 43 in a 30 last month, $150 fine and 2 points. And then they add insult to injury by sending me a request to support my local sheriff by buying a “get out of a ticket” sticker for $85…I was livid…what total unmitigating gall. The deputy wasn’t happy when I told him they should apply the same zeal to finding the punks vandalizing our neighborhood as they do to writing tickets.

    • 0 avatar

      “The deputy wasn’t happy when I told him they should apply the same zeal to finding the punks vandalizing our neighborhood as they do to writing tickets.”  It’s a lose-lose for him – he’d have to do some actual work for a change and lower the amount of free money he could be seizing from compliant citizenry, plus he’d have to go to court and testify against the vandals (again losing more ‘revenue’ while watching the lawyers strut and crow) and then watch them get slapped on the wrist and set free.

  • avatar

    I was pulled over on I-95 in SC way back in 1980 for going 57 in a 55 zone.

    It was because I had Ohio plates and a Hilton Head Island sticker so the trooper automatically assumed I was an a**hole.

    I was respectful and friendly so I only got a no-cost warning and was advised to ‘git that speedometer checked when y’all git bact to O-hi-ya’.

    I guess they won’t be so nice next time.

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