Eastville brings in lots of revenue from speeding tickets

December 6, 2023
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According to a story from our partners at WTKR TV 3 in Norfolk, Rt. 13 on the Eastern Shore is famous for one thing, traffic tickets.  Margaret Kavanagh and Brianna Lanham report that if you speed on Lankford Highway, there is a good chance you may  get a ticket.

Kavanagh received a ticket recently and decided to inquire about how many tickets are written and how much revenue they generate for some towns on Rt 13.  She found that Eastville is writing a lot more tickets than many other cities.

According to Jay Beeber, Director of Policy and Research, some Eastern Shore towns do engage in policing for profit.

But law enforcement officials on the Shore deny that.

Eastville Police Chief and Town Administrator Rob Stubbs told TV 3 that “the critics that say policing for profit do not understand Virginia law or how the state helps fund Law Enforcement.”  Stubbs says that many large departments fund positions with local safety enforcement fines just like small towns do.”  Stubbs continued saying ” the Eastville Police Department only stops vehicles that are breaking the laws of Virginia, as a matter of fact we are only stopping vehicles that are breaking those laws by a wide margin.”

Stubbs also added that ticket revenue allows around the clock police protection for Eastville residents which would be unaffordable under normal circumstances. He said that ticket revenue keeps taxes low in Eastville.

Exmore Police Chief Angelo Dimartino said traffic enforcement is needed due to excessive speed on Route 13. He said his department is trying to make the community safer and prevent deaths.

“When we have officers out enforcing safety enforcement for traffic, our crash numbers go down,” DiMartino said.

He said his agency has no interest in the fines and outlined how there are plenty of other tax revenues coming into the town with businesses and hotels.

“The police officers are paid a fixed salary and it does not change based on the amount of tickets they write,” he said. “Pay increases are based on yearly cost of living increases set by the town council and the increases apply to all Town of Exmore employees.”

In Exmore, there are sections of the road where the speed limit drops from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour, but DiMartino said there are very large signs posted that indicate the change.

The town of Eastville reported in 2022 that the revenue from uniform traffic summons generated $1.3 million.

Pep Up

They reported in 2021 that the revenue from uniform traffic summons generated $1.2 million.

The News 3 Investigative Team looked at data gathered from July 1, 2022, until Nov. 22, 2023.

With a population of about half a million, the Virginia Beach Police had 33,829 traffic violation stops during this time. In 29,134 of those cases, at least one citation was written, and 15,582 warnings were given out, according to the website.

Meanwhile, in the town of Eastville with a population of about 350 people, the Eastville Police Department had 20,104 traffic stops, 19,928 citations given out, and 161 warnings issued.  Approximately one mile of Rt. 13 is within the town limits of Eastville.

Stubbs said his department only stops drivers going 70 miles per hour or more when the speed limit in his town is 55 miles an hour.

He says the need for speed enforcement is strong, as many drivers passing through are traveling at extremely high rates. He said this puts citizens, drivers, and the entire public in danger.

“To be fair, there is a problem with speeding on Route 13 and there does need to be something done on it,” Stuart Oliver, an Eastville resident, said.

But Oliver doesn’t agree with how the town is run. He said the constant enforcement is excessive, and he has concerns with the amount of money generated through tickets.

“They sit out there and harvest the tourists,” Oliver said.

The town of Onley also aggressively enforces its speed limits both on Rt 13 and some of the roads entering the town. Both Onley and Exmore lower the speed limit to 45 on Rt. 13 in their town limits.

But one issue is that Rt. 13 is not a limited access highway like the interstates.  There are dozens of local roads intersecting the highway and many of those do not have stop lights.  Also, there are homes with driveways entering the highway all up and down the corridor.

Then there is Route 13’s safety record. Route 13 is a very dangerous road, with 309 total accidents so far this year, which is down from 343 in 2022 according to VDOT. Three fatalities occurred on Route 13 in November this year.

So the bottom line is speeding is still illegal in Virginia. If you speed you’ll still get pulled over and likely get a ticket.

 

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