Mar 25, 2014 7:57 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck
Two towns in Acadiana, notorious as speed traps, could get that official title by the state. Lawmakers are debating legislation that would designate an area as a speed trap. Towns that get more than half of its revenue comes from fines, including speeding tickets, could get that label.
A KATC investigation found that Fenton in Jeff Davis Parish and Washington in St. Landry Parish could each fall into this category. Last year, Fenton took in 89 percent of its revenue from fines, and for Washington it was 70 percent.
Some residents hope the legislation will put the brakes on speed traps.
"Who wants to come to an area when you know you're going to get a fine for $300, even when you maybe not even be speeding. That's a speed trap, when they entrap you," Washington resident Dorothy Worthy said.
Seventy-six-year-old Worthy lives just around the corner from Interstate 49, and says she sees cars getting pulled over all the time.
"I'm praying that the legislature will vote to change this," Worthy said.
Last year, Washington brought in about $1.3 million in fines from violations, including speeding tickets. That's even after the legislature tried to cut back on "speed traps" in 2009 by requiring some towns to pay the state for fines collected from speeding tickets less than 10 miles over the limit on interstates.
But that law only applies to towns that are not govern by a Home Rule Charter. Washington voters adopted a Home Rule Charter in November 2010, exempting them from that law.
However, if this new bill is passed, another law would require the town to put up signs warning about the speed trap. If they don't, that money will instead go to the state treasury.
"Now all I hear when I'm away from the little town is, "Oh Washington has a speed trap. We try our best to not go anywhere near washington anymore,'" Worthy said.
Several Acadiana towns were not far behind Fenton and Washington. Henderson last year got 49 percent of its revenue from fines, but that's after the police chief and assistant chief were arrested last year for an alleged ticket-quota scheme along Interstate 10. Before that investigation, Henderson was averaging around 70 percent of their revenue from fines.
Port barre also narrowly misses the proposed cut off. It gets about 37 percent of its revenue from fines.
Grand Coteau and Turkey Creek come in at 30 percent.
Less than 20 percent of revenue in both Maurice and Krotz Springs comes from fines. Patterson comes in at 10 percent.
Percent of revenue from fines
Port Barre: 36.69%
Grand Coteau: 31.27%
Turkey Creek: 30.46%
Krotz Springs: 17.46%