I-295 Tickets Break Record
By Caitlin Davis
Sep 5, 2012, 11:25
The Interstate 295 Safety Program in Hopewell is still going strong. The Hopewell Sheriff’s Office wrote a record breaking number of tickets for the month of July.
In July, the sheriff’s office wrote 1,562 tickets. Of those tickets, 1,319 were speeds of 80 to 89 and 74 were 90 to 99. Of those, 1,197 were out of state and 323 were in state, with 22 from Hopewell. The total fines were $70,793 with $36,383.86 total fines collected.
“My hope has come true,” Hopewell Sheriff Greg Anderson said. “This is great program. We save lives.”
Aside from just writing speeding tickets, some for drivers traveling as fast as 100 mph, the Sheriff’s Office has written tickets for other violations, including DUIs and suspended driver’s licenses.
During the month of July, the Sheriff’s office wrote two tickets for suspended driver’s license, eight tickets for seat belt violations, seven tickets for possession of marijuana, three tickets for no child restraints, two tickets for felony child endangerment, one ticket for possession of cocaine, two DUI tickets and one ticket for driving without a license.
In one case, Anderson said a woman was driving 100 mph with an unrestrained child in the passenger’s lap.
Anderson’s program on I-295 has been dubbed the million dollar mile and has endured some criticism due to the high number of tickets written and the money generated. The state now sees a portion of that money.
When the budget for the state was passed April 18, an amendment was passed also allowing the state to collect money from tickets.
The Senate Bill 500 states that when local fines and fees collected exceed 40 percent of total revenue, the state will require 50 percent of the excess revenue to be transferred to the state’s Literary Fund.
According to the Virginia Department of Education, the Literary Fund provides low-interest loans for school construction, grants under the interest rate subsidiary program, debt service for technology funding and support for the state’s share of teacher retirement.
Senator John Watkins was one of the authors of this bill. He said the 1-295 program is not about safety.
“It is not justice for the right reasons,” Watkins said in April.
The I-295 Safety Program has also come under fire from AAA Mid-Atlantic. A press release came out in April, stating opposition to the program.
Martha Meade, from AAA Mid-Atlantic, said AAA is not against writing tickets for speeders. She said this is not an issue of public safety.
“It is about the fact that the number of tickets seems extraordinarily high,” Meade said in April.
Meade said AAA is not against speed enforcement and wants to make sure that drivers are safe on roadways. However, she said AAA is not sure that is what is happening with this I-295 project.
“Is this in the name of traffic safety or is it a revenue generating machine?” she asked in April.
Commonwealth Attorney Rick Newman took the tickets to court when he made a motion in March to have the I-295 tickets processed under state law instead of with the Hopewell Sheriff’s Office. His motion failed, as former Judge Kenneth Nye overruled the motion in April.
“I see no reason to change what has been going on ... I overrule this motion,” Nye said at the conclusion of the court case.
Nevertheless, Anderson remains proud of his program.
“The motoring public wins, the state wins,” Anderson said. “We are doing a great thing. I have no doubt about that. We are going to continue being out there and we are going to continue to save lives.”