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Oklahoma Speed Trap Town Must Pay Back Fines. It Refuses.

Written by Gary North on May 25, 2012

Occasionally, there is justice. Not this time. Not yet, anyway.

The justification for imposing fines for speeding is to get a fund to pay victims of hit-and-run accidents. The idea of victim’s rights should determine fines.

In practice, police departments use fines as a revenue source. This is a perversion of the law. It is also universal.

A town in Oklahoma (population 600) has been handing out speeding violations for decades. But the town council made a mistake. By state law, it had to publish its laws and fine schedule. If it failed to do this within 14 days, the fines have to be returned. Guess what? The laws were never posted. Since 1977.

Oh, dear. Big, big oh, dear.

The town is so tiny that it has no police force. It outsourced its speed trapping operation. It rented county sheriff’s deputies at $5,500 a month. To make this pay, the deputies had to hand out a lot of tickets. They were up to the task.

Then the town got caught breaking the law. It had failed to publish the fine schedule. There was an outside audit of the entire operation.

“Any ordinances (other than those pertaining to the appropriation of money) that are not published within 15 days of their passage are not in force,” notes the audit. As a result, “the municipal court should not have collected fines of more than $50. The court has over-collected approximately $106,308 in fines through the end of June 2011”; in addition, the court also “over-collected” nearly $8,000 in court costs. The auditor directed the Bernice Town Board to reimburse those who had been subjected to illegal fines (in one instance, a motorist was given a ticket for $545).

The town’s attorney responded as any good attorney would: he said that the town council had meant well. He admitted that the town “did not follow the strict technical requires for publication [of the traffic ordinance], the public clearly had constructive notice of the existence of the Bernice Penal Code. . . .” In short, it’s the thought that counts.

So, the town’s board has voted to keep the money. It took the vote in a closed meeting, which violated the state’s Open Meeting Act.

Towns like this are ripe for a training program for local Tea Party members. It would not take much to take over a town like this.

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5 thoughts on “Oklahoma Speed Trap Town Must Pay Back Fines. It Refuses.

  1. AD Roberts says:

    You did not mention the town. My guess is that it is Wynona in Osage county. They mainly look for out of state tags. Then, after they write the ticket, their first question is, "How much money do you have on you?". That's right. They take it all.

  2. ProundPatriotToo says:

    Did they get their training from Obama?

  3. Sojourner says:

    The town name is mentioned in the quote from the auditor; it is Bernice, Oklahoma. My guess is there are plenty of towns in this catagory.

    We all get worked up over the federal government overstepping its Constitutional authority, and rightly so. But the fact is, our rights are much more likely to betrampled locally. It's axiomatic; the lower the level of government the more likely official misconduct becomes.

    Unfortunately, far too few of us have the will, mental alertness or the requisite knowledge to identify and effectively defend against such government misbehavior. Case in point: it took a (government) aidit to finally bring this to light after 39 years!

    Nearly forty years of sheep to the slaughter! Don't hold your breath waiting for the citizens of this once great nation to suddenly rise up nd seize back their rights. I wish it were different.

  4. Bill McCroskey says:

    Many local police just give out tickets that are totally bogus as revenue sources. Wentzville MO. is a prime example. I was totally alone as far as traffic and had a out of state plate was ticketed for 10 mph over (I was not even close to the posted speed limit of 55 mph) and it cost me $165.00 nice gig if you can get it. Other drivers from Iowa reported the same experience in this same town.

  5. DoctorBob says:

    Sadly, our police long ago gave up even the illusion that they were there to "protect and serve" us. Quite frankly, they are revenue agents with guns – and an ATTITUDE!! My small town (in Illinois), population 5000, is a speed trap town. We have 13 full-time police officers in a town that hasn't had a violent crime in about 35 years. It's a sleepy little bedroom community. Yet, the local cops are lurking behind every bush, every sign, ready to pounce on you! It's a major source of revenue for the town, which actually wants to hire 2 more cops!!! Of course, if you question this openly, you instantly become the target of the cops. I have ZERO respect for them, and regard them as on the level of snakes, lurking in the bushes and waiting to strike you. We need to fire about 8 or 9 of them, but I don't know how we can get that job done. They are the bullies with the guns.