CHARLOTTE COUNTY Fla.- Getting a speeding ticket is never fun and in Southwest Florida it's not cheap either. In Charlotte County speeding fines range from 126 dollars to 458 dollars and Punta Gorda Police Chief Butch Arenal says fines like that are unrealistic. "We are human beings and it is difficult for our officers too, on many occasions, to write a citation that could devastate a families income," said Arenal. He is not alone. Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron does not like the fine rate either. "For the most part, officers have a real hard time writing those tickets," said Cameron.
The numbers reflect it. Since 2007, the number of speeding tickets written in Charlotte County has dropped from over 5000 a year to under 2000. Almost a 62 percent drop. Not to say that officers aren't writing tickets, but instead of a speeding ticket, an officer may cite you for failure to obey a traffic control device (the speed limit sign) which carries a much smaller fine than a speeding ticket, which is exactly what happened to Mark Bass 8 months ago. He was pulled over for speeding and the officer gave him a citation for failing to obey a traffic control device. "The ticket would have been 300 dollars and it was only 120 dollar ticket," said Bass gratefully. State representative Paige Kreegle has voted for the rate increases in the past, but he says in these economic times maybe this issue needs to be revisited. "It might be time to open that discussion reviewing the entire fee schedule for fines and traffic violations," said Kreegle. Which would sit a lot better with the law enforcement leaders in Charlotte County.