Whew! Another tourist season is behind us, spring breakers have departed, and life in South Florida is beginning to return to its usual everyday pace. Granted, that is not exactly a lackadaisical pace, but it is somewhat slower than it is from October through April. Before you issue a sigh of relief, keep in mind that summer is just around the corner, and we all know what happens during the summer. Just when we wave goodbye to the college students of spring break, families with younger children start to flock to our beautiful beaches, our many state parks, our amusement parks, and myriad other attractions that draw so many people to Florida. Just like those who come down to escape harsh winters, thousands of families count on summer breaks as an opportunity to pile the kids in the car and head south. There are a lot of beautiful areas in this country with much to offer, but there are very few places that offer our warm tropical days and cool evening breezes. Factor in the multitude of parks and recreational areas I mentioned previously, and Florida is a paradise for a family vacation.
We welcome these families who arrive with palm trees in their eyes and designs on having a tropical drink in their hands. They have to stay somewhere which is great for the lodging industry. They have to eat somewhere which supports the restaurant industry. These wonderful visitors represent an economic boon for our region in measurable and immeasurable ways. Unfortunately, for many of our neighbors to the north, they can also be faced with expenses that they were not anticipating. A flat tire or other unexpected car repairs, a lost wallet, stolen credit card, or that oft-unexpected transient rental tax, also known as the tourist development tax, all of which can drive a lovely vacation right off the rails. Then there is that other “industry” looking to help unsuspecting visitors lighten their wallets.
I am referring, of course, to law enforcement agencies. Boy, what a racket they have going here in South Florida. We have all heard the denials regarding whether or not they have ticket quotas, but most of us have also heard the stories about whole towns that are set up as one big speed trap. Probably the most notable of these towns is Waldo in northern Florida, and its ‘sister city’ of Lawtey which is 20 miles away from Waldo. Each has a reputation that is just as notorious as the other for being a speed trap. Highway 301 passes through both of these towns, and as a main artery between Interstate 95 in northeast Florida to Interstate 75, this makes Hwy. 301 a primary road of travel for many of our visitors. What better place to set up speed traps and look for out-of-state tags with drivers who are just trying to get to their vacation destinations?
When you fall prey to these or other such speed traps, your vacation gets a lot more expensive and a lot more complicated. This can often be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for some families. Times can be very difficult when raising a family, consequently, planning vacations may require much financial wrangling just to ensure they happen. The fine that will be imposed for a speeding ticket can be hundreds of dollars which could signify the tip of the iceberg that will sink the family vacation. Add to that the court costs and the amount of money that will have to be doled out for the next few years on increased insurance rates, and this could create a real financial hardship for some families.
Up to this point, I have only addressed the issues that a traffic ticket may present for families, but young adult drivers are often the recipients of traffic citations; most notably young, male drivers. The reasons for this are many. Young men tend to be in the highest ranking group of risk-takers. False bravado, a sense of infallibility, ego, or what have you often lead young men to make choices that a little time and maturation may amend. Speeding is definitely among those poor choices that young adults may choose participate in, especially when they are in the company of their friends. Statistics bear out that a lot of accidents that occur among young adults occur when they have members of their peer group in the vehicle. This is not surprising when you know that numerous scientific studies have concluded that the part of the brain that deals with analyzing choices and their consequences continues to develop until the age of approximately 25. This may explain why so many young adults tend to “live in the moment.” Where families may get stopped for speeding because they are just ready to get on with their vacation, young adults may enjoy the thrill of the open road, a feeling of escape, and the general enthusiasm of hitting the beaches. These young adults face the same fines and penalties for a speeding ticket that are imposed against other drivers. Yet, this is another socio-economic group that may frequently struggle with meeting the financial burden of such assessments.
Speeding infractions are just one major issue that young drivers frequently commit. Driving while under the influence, whether it be alcohol or illegal substances, is also a common issue within this age group. Obviously, young adults are not the only drivers who commit this offense, but the same joie di vive that impacts some of the other poor decisions that young people may make also influences their decision to drink and drive. Sadly, both the decision to drink and drive or to speed costs hundreds of lives every year when someone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are impaired or even if they just choose to engage in driving behaviors that are unsafe for themselves and others. However, not everyone who is issued a speeding ticket or arrested for a DUI is guilty of the accusation. If you have received a traffic ticket of any kind, give our office a call at 954-967-9888 for a free consultation. The memories you make during your Florida vacation should be priceless, and hopefully will not marred by the costs of unexpected traffic tickets.