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When the Beat Generation Becomes the Revenue Generation

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… or, When Beating Your Traffic Ticket isn’t Possible in Oregon:

(Previous OLR Blog post about Beating Your Traffic Ticket.

Locals know which town and city Traffic Courts are not open to a conversation about whether or not a traffic law was violated or whether or not there was police or prosecutorial misconduct.

Thursday’s article in the Oregonian’s Washington County Metro-West news, Drivers charged up about traffic tickets in North Plains: Good luck getting your fine reduced in a city that depends on traffic violations for a fifth of its income, Thursday, June 19, 2008, by Jill Rehkopf Smith:

(Note: North Plains, Oregon, is home to the Elephant Garlic Festival.)

Excerpt:

NORTH PLAINS — In the first place, Patty Fogel didn’t think she broke the law. She tried to change to the left lane but found it blocked. So she slowed, as required when passing a stopped emergency vehicle along a highway.

In the second place, the $335 fine for “failure to maintain safe distance from an emergency vehicle” was $90 higher than anywhere else in Washington County except Beaverton.

In the third place, with her trip down from Vernonia and her 37 years of citation-free driving, Fogel expected at least a reduction in the ticket cost.

It was a reasonable expectation — anywhere but here in North Plains Municipal Court.

Judge Steven Leskin, the Portland-based attorney who presides here once a month, is clear: “We’re not doing a favor by reducing the fines. We want you to change your behavior.”

He and North Plains Police Chief Scott Whitehead speak passionately about driver carelessness and the need for safety.

But there’s more than safety at stake in North Plains, where voters have passed only one of four property tax levies proposed since 1980. The city now relies heavily on traffic fines to support its general fund.

There’s nothing illegal about that. But it’s something for drivers and cyclists to consider as they pass through the city and its 1.5-mile stretch of U.S. 26.

For all the blatant lawbreakers who file through Leskin’s courtroom, there are many others who think the process is unfair and walk out steaming….” (read full story)

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