It comes as no surprise to anyone who has received a Florida speeding ticket that it is a matter of big business for the state. Millions of dollars a year line the pockets of cities and fill the coffers of the state and local government offices. Take a look at the books of any municipality and, presuming they are accurate, you will see where traffic ticket revenue helps to meet budgetary shortfalls. When you think about it, it begs the question as to whether or not local governments should be counting on people breaking the law to meet their fiscal obligations. Of course musing upon the actions of government can often open a can of worms as to questions such as right, wrong, fair, and unfair. Such is the case with speeding tickets. There is no denying that the funds that speeding tickets raise are great, but one segment of speeding violators which is not quantifiable is that of speeding cops. It’s not quantifiable because seldom does a cop get stopped for committing the same speeding violations for which other drivers get fined, at least not when driving a police cruiser. Even when stopped in a personal vehicle, it is highly unlikely that a police officer will receive a speeding ticket once the cop who initiates the stop realizes that he is dealing with one of his fellow “boys in blue.”
Surely, all of us have experienced the frustration of driving in heavy traffic while trying to obey traffic laws (not always an easy task) when suddenly a cops whizzes by us. He is not running with lights and/or siren, and it is about the time of a shift change so you know he is just headed home. Seeing cops get away with this without good reason and suffering little or no ramifications can be infuriating. This is especially true if you have been the recipient of a speeding ticket…or two. It’s no wonder that most of us get a little spark of glee in our hearts when we hear about a police officer getting busted for committing the very same violations that they seem to enjoy ticketing the rest of us for. Unfortunately, this seems to be a seldom occurrence and then only when they commit major violations or on a repeated basis. Occasionally, however, violations among cops are so egregious or the occurrences become systemic in a given area that it attracts the attention of those who are willing to do something about it. Youtube is riddled with videos of people recording cops who are speeding or otherwise abusing the power with which they have been entrusted. Fortunately, we can still often count on news sources to conduct investigations into such behavior. The Sun-Sentinel conducted an investigation in 2012 which resulted in 44 Miami-Dade police officers being censured. The investigation revealed that these officers consistently drove county vehicles at speeds of more than 90 miles per hour. Fifty percent of the time, these cops were off-duty when they committed these violations. I don’t know which is more incensing, the fact that half of the time that they were breaking this particular law was while we taxpayers were paying them, or that the other half the time they were breaking the law and putting others at risk on their personal time.
The inquiry also revealed that while on duty, a lot of these police officers exceed the limits that even their department policy permitted during crucial conditions. These sound like some pretty serious infractions to me, yet the only penalties that most of these officers suffered were to briefly lose the privilege of driving the county vehicles home after their shift and/or to take an 8-hour driver’s safety training course. In addition to those findings, the year-long investigation also uncovered that almost 800 police officers from a multitude of agencies drove between 90 and 130 miles per hour according to SunPass records. Sadly, it took the involvement of the media to bring this serious issues to light which in turn incited the various law enforcement agencies to conduct individual investigations. The outcome of these investigations was that 138 officers were disciplined by not only their respective agencies, but also by the counties in which they operated. Unfortunately the discipline they received was severely lacking teeth in that with only two exceptions, the penalties issued were nothing more than reprimands.
There are incidences where the police officers who break traffic laws suffer more severe penalties including termination or incarceration, but these actions are usually reserved for “rogue” cops who commit more serious crimes. Such was the case with one Miami cop who was arrested for fleeing from a Florida State Trooper for more than 18 miles at speeds that topped out at over 100 mph. Why was he in such a hurry? Apparently, he was on his way to his second job while driving his City of Miami police cruiser. The way that police officers such as the ones I have mentioned here abuse their power is outrageous. Any additional driver’s training they receive doesn’t necessarily make it any safer for them to speed and justify taking the well-being of others into their own hands. The fact that they are entrusted with the power to determine whether or not the average citizen is acting within the confines of Florida’s traffic laws makes it even more critical that they hold themselves to a higher standard of care. Couple that responsibility with the fact that these speeding violations often happen in police vehicles that are paid for with our tax dollars, as is the gas that fuels them, and the insurance that covers them, and it is easy to get annoyed by the knowledge that rarely do these cops see the same consequences as we do for committing the very same offenses.
Most of us are taught at a very young age to respect police officers, comply with their demands, and operate within the limits of the law. That is a bitter pill to continuously try to swallow when we feel like the standards by which law enforcement operates are different from those that the rest of us are expected to abide by. If you get a speeding ticket or any other type of traffic citation, give us a call at 954-967-9888 for a free consultation. We feel that protecting your rights are just as important, if not more so, than the rights afforded the police officers who write you traffic tickets.