Quota-Driven Traffic Tickets — What are Your Options?

Do Police Officers Have Traffic Ticket Quotas?

It can often seem like police officers have either quotas or incentives related to the number of traffic tickets they issue. At certain times each month, they may set up traps in high traffic areas or zones where speeding is more likely. The question, of course, is so what? If you were speeding, does it matter whether the police officer had a quota?

Under Pennsylvania law, police departments (including the state police department) are prohibited from directly or indirectly ordering or encouraging officers to issue a given number of tickets. This includes setting “numbers” as part of a performance review, as well as offering bonuses or other rewards to those officers who issue the most traffic tickets.

And Pennsylvania police officers have a somewhat checkered history when it comes to the issue of quotas. A 2002 newspaper expose showed that state troopers were required to meet the “station average,” and could be subject to discipline for failing to do so. Officers told reporters that it was routine to be granted easy overtime pay if you met or exceeded unwritten quotas.

The unfortunate reality is that it will be extremely difficult to impossible to have a traffic ticket dismissed based solely on the argument that the officer was meeting a quota. Even those officers who admitted that they were forced to meet quotas still insisted that they only gave tickets to motorists who were in violation of the law. Nonetheless, the more tickets a police officer issues, the more times he or she will have to appear in court, should you decide to challenge the citation. One of the best ways to get your ticket dismissed is to request a hearing, as the officer who issued the ticket may not show up.

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