Red Ink in the Rearview Mirror: Local Fiscal Conditions and the Issuance of Traffic Tickets
Municipalities have revenue motives for enforcing traffic laws in addition to public-safety motives because many traffic offenses are punished via fines and the issuing municipality often retains the revenue. Anecdotal evidence supports this revenue motive. We empirically test the revenue motive using a panel of annual data for North Carolina counties from 1990 to 2003. We find that significantly more tickets are issued in the year following a decline in revenue but that the issuance of traffic tickets does not decline in years following revenue increases. Elasticity estimates reveal that a 10 percent decrease in negative revenue growth results in a 6.4 percent increase in the growth rate of traffic tickets. Our results suggest that tickets are used as a revenue-generation tool rather than solely a means to increase public safety. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
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