When you plead guilty or are found guilty in a criminal traffic case, a fine is typically imposed. This can either be part of a plea agreement you reached with the prosecutor, or the fine can be imposed by the court. We recently concluded a criminal traffic case in Tempe Municipal Court wherein the plea agreement specified the fine would be $125. When the court got done with it though, a total of $505 was owing. Here’s how that breaks down:

$125 fine for the violation.

$20 court enhancement fee.

$30 public safety enhancement fee.

$185 in surcharges.

$125 prosecutor charge.

$20 time payment fee

This sure looks like a revenue generation scheme rather than an administration of justice. That should be no surprise though. Consider the numerous jurisdictions, including Paradise Valley, that have been caught shortening red light times to generate additional red light photo enforcement revenue at the expense of safety; or consider defensive driving school where you don’t technically pay a fine but 83% of the cost of the class goes straight back to the court and the state of Arizona; or consider that some municipalities were actually created for the sole purpose of collecting fines from motorists; or consider the concept of speeding tickets in general.

Sure, some drivers are ticketed for doing stupid or dangerous stuff. But oftentimes, it is simply revenue generation for the jurisdiction issuing the tickets.