Police say speed trap law would have no effect on parish
HB961, sponsored by Rep. Steve Plyant, R–Winnsboro, would require any local government that receives more than half of its revenue from traffic citations for violation of speed limit laws to be designated as a speed trap. It would also require the Louisiana Department of Transportation to create signs at the entry of the community warning motorists.
Additionally, any revenue more than 50 percent derived from traffic citations would go to the state treasury rather than staying in the local community.
HB962, sponsored by Rep. Regina Barrow, D–Baton Rouge, defines a speed trap as a stretch of highway where the posted speed has not been justified by an engineering or traffic survey conducted within the past five to seven years. The bill says that no law enforcement agent may use such a speed trap to issue traffic citations unless the driver is going 15 miles per hour above the posted speed limit.
Sheriff Greg Champagne said because the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office does not set traffic laws, but only follows them, the legislation should not have an effect on their enforcement efforts.
“Law enforcement agencies don’t set speed limits nor post speed limit signs. We are obligated to enforce them as best we can,” he said. “I believe speed limits should be fair and based upon appropriate guidelines such as quality of the road, the width of the road, the type of area the road runs through.”
Champagne also said the Sheriff’s Office gives drivers plenty of time to adjust their speed when entering a new speed zone.
“I also think the driving public is entitled to adequate advance notice through appropriate signage what the speed limits are and given sufficient distance to adjust,” he said.
While the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office is responsible for traffic citations on local roads, other roadways running through the parish, such as Highway 90 and I-310, are patrolled mainly by Louisiana State Police – Troop B.
Trooper Melissa Matey, spokesperson for State Police Troop B, said if the bills pass it will not change the way the State Police conduct their patrols.
“If that legislation passes that is not going to have an effect on speed enforcement anywhere in Troop B or anywhere in the state,” she said. “Speed enforcement is set in place to deter speeders and decrease the number of crashes.”
Matey said while troopers patrol area roadways, all revenue goes to local governmental bodies.
“We’re not in the business of generating revenue. We are strictly out there for deterrence,” she said.
In addition, Matey said that troopers take into account the time it takes for drivers to slow down between speed zones. “We don’t do speed traps, we do speed enforcement. At 500 feet into a speed zone you may not get a ticket, but at a mile in it is different,” she said.
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