The Arizona House of Representatives yesterday passed a proposal to significantly cut the price of some speeding tickets.
On a 40-20 vote, the House voted to pass House Bill 2662, which would expand one of Arizona's lesser known laws -- a ban on the "waste of finite resources."
Currently, the law allows police to write up a ticket that costs about $15 for speeders going 10 mph or less over the speed limit, but that law only applies to 55 mph zone. These days, 55 mph are exceedingly rare in Arizona, so this bill would expand the law to apply to all highways and many streets.
"For example in a 75 [mph] zone, you get a ticket for doing 80, you can get this type of penalty," Republican Representative David Stevens explained in a committee hearing last month.
Stevens' bill would apply that to all standard speed limits, so drivers pulled over for exceeding the speed limit anywhere by 10 mph or less could instead by fined for wasting gas (or diesel . . . or electricity), instead of being given a true speeding ticket, at the cost of a few hundred bucks.
There was no debate of the bill on the House floor yesterday. The only person who commented was Democratic Representative Victoria Steele, who was concerned about potential losses of revenue for towns.
"On the face of it, this looks like, 'Woohoo! I can speed and I can only get charged $15, it doesn't affect my points, it doesn't affect my insurance -- I get a free ticket, so to speak,'" Steele said. "This is going to have an enormous impact on our cities and towns. I think we should leave this up to local control and let our local governments make these decisions."
As Steele mentioned, a "waste of finite resources" ticket doesn't rack up points on your license, and such a fine wouldn't affect your insurance rates. It also doesn't apply to speeders in school zones, construction zones, or residential areas.
Despite a few hearings on this bill so far, there hasn't been much public dissent from lawmakers.
However, in 2012, late Representative Chester Crandell proposed scrapping the "waste of finite resources" law altogether. There was a 55 mph zone in Crandell's rural district, and had a constituent get a ticket for going 3 mph over the speed limit.
According to legislative notes taken during that hearing, Crandell reasoned that, "The officer has the discretion to issue a warning to get a person's attention without using this statute, and if someone consistently speeds and is continually stopped, the officer will see that on their record and has the ability to cite the person."
This year's bill now goes to the Senate for approval.
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This bill does not affect the price of tickets for going 11 mph or more over the speed limit, which will still cost a few hundred bucks. The speed cameras around the state are set to go off for people exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph or more (except in school zones), so unless that changes, this bill won't have an impact on tickets from the cameras.
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