Florida’s new “Waldo Bill” (SB 264) was passed unanimously with no debate in the Florida Senate on Wednesday April 8, 2015. The bill, which still needs to pass the House and be approved by the governor before it becomes law, seeks to end traffic ticket quotas in the state for good. (UPDATE: The bill was approved by Florida Governor Rick Scott on May 14, 2015 with an effective date of July 1, 2015.)
While traffic ticket quotas were previously prohibited in Florida state statutes, the new bill adds teeth to previous legislations by adding clearer language to include ALL law enforcement agencies, establishing consequences for violators and establishing requirements for disclosing traffic ticket revenue.
Florida’s new law actually takes the monitoring to a new level. Agencies with revenue exceeding one third of their operating costs will be required to report that revenue to state officials for investigation. The city of Waldo would have been thoroughly investigated, as it was reported that traffic tickets accounted for over one half of the city’s revenue.
The bill’s nickname comes from the Alachua County city of Waldo, located on the popular U.S. 301 between Gainesville and Jacksonville and once considered one of the nation’s worst speed traps.
Are Traffic Ticket Quotas Illegal?
Traffic ticket quotas are already illegal in most jurisdictions across the country. A 2013 case in Los Angeles awarded a $6 million settlement to LAPD officers who accused their superiors of imposing a secret traffic ticket quota system in their jurisdiction. Quotas are against state law in California, and the lawsuit allowed the officers to fight back against superior officers who reprimanded, denied overtime assignments, gave undesirable work and subjected officers to other forms of harassment in retribution to officers who failed to meet quota minimums or raised concerns about the quotas.
Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed similar quota-banning legislation into law in 2014, which gave the discretion to law enforcement officers to decide when and where to issue citations without the pressure of a quota system. Many officers have complained in the past about unspoken policies that not writing citations may mean that the officers are not doing their job.
To find out if ticket quotas are illegal, you will need to research the laws in your local jurisdiction. There are currently no federal laws banning the concept of a ticket quota, since the laws regarding ticketing are the jurisdiction of state and local governments.
Will Ticket Numbers Decrease Under New Law?
Even if quotas are not spelled out, that definitely does not mean that Florida traffic tickets will stop or even drop in quantity. This also does not mean that any traffic ticket given under a quota is in any way invalidated; even if it was potentially given under an illegal quota, it is still a legitimate violation.
If you receive a traffic ticket in Florida, make sure you investigate your options! Florida drivers are eligible to take a Basic Driver Improvement (BDI) course once in a year period but no more than 5 times total. These traffic school courses allow Florida drivers to avoid points being assessed on their license, which can cause insurance increases or even insurance cancellation. For more information on Florida Basic Driver Improvement or on other traffic school options, visit Florida Online Traffic School.