HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - Are speeding tickets being written as matter of public safety or to generate revenue? It's a question being put to deputies in Hopewell.
In 2011, the department issued what's being called a disproportionate number of tickets on one section of highway.
It's called the 'million dollar highway'... a short stretch of I-295 that runs through Hopewell. This section of highway is drawing a lot of attention because of the number of speeding tickets deputies have handed out.
In 2011, the department issued more than 14,000 tickets on a two-mile stretch on I-295 — generating just over $2 million.
It's a figure that has many, including a state senator and AAA Mid-Atlantic, asking questions.
"This appears to be a gross number of tickets in a very small stretch of roadway, and when it becomes more about revenue and less about safety, that's when we begin to ask questions," said Martha Meade for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Hopewell Sheriff Greg Anderson began the I-295 safety program in 2007.
"I think it's a great public safety program, I know we're saving lives," said Sheriff Anderson.
Sheriff Anderson says his deputies are doing their job and that writing speeding tickets isn't about raising revenue — but keeping the roadways safe.
The speed limit on that stretch is 70 mph.
"We write no ticket until it's 81 mph, which by the Code of VA is a class 1 misdemeanor," said Sheriff Anderson.
Most of the speeding tickets handed out by Hopewell deputies on I-295 are issued to out-of-state motorists.
"It's unusual that a sheriff's department would have 11 deputies working 14 hours a day, issuing summons that total a million dollars worth of income for Hopewell in 2010 and double that — $2 million — in 2011," said Meade.
AAA Mid-Atlantic said it's not against enforcement and wants to ensure that enforcement is fair and equitable.
The sheriff of Hopewell said he and his deputies will continue to enforce the law.
A recent audit revealed the commonwealth collected more than $100 million in revenue from speeding tickets in 2010.
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