State wants more speeding ticket money

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There's a fight brewing at the State Capitol about who should get all the money collected from speeding tickets and other traffic violations across the Commonwealth.

Communities like Chesterfield could lose nearly $3 million. State legislators feel that money belongs to them, but local governments are fighting to keep it.

Nobody likes getting a traffic ticket, but that money goes a long way for many communities trying to pay for teachers and police officers. State Senator John Watkins of Midlothian says writing tickets isn't the right way to raise revenues.

"Times are tough for all of us," Watkins said. "That doesn't justify going out and using this as a means of raising money. It's supposed to be law enforcement."

He's drafting a bill that would divert money from traffic tickets away from local governments and give that money to the state. He says too many local governments depend on traffic tickets to pay the bills.

"This is a quota when they do this," he said. "When they get up and testify they're going to pay for their cars and police officers with tickets, that's a quota and that is unethical and inappropriate."

Virginia drivers paid $95 million last year in traffic fines. That's a lot of money potentially leaving local government coffers.

Sterling Rives is the Hanover County Attorney. He says Hanover could lose more than half a million dollars in traffic fines.

He says the reason the state is not getting as much money from traffic tickets is simple - state troopers don't write as many tickets as local police.

"Funds from writing traffic tickets, when those traffic tickets are written by Hanover County Sheriff's deputies logically would go to Hanover County," Rives said.

Henrico could lose up to $4 million in traffic fines as well. Right now Senator Watkins is still drafting this bill.

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