Strict enforcement near Mantua prompts proposal to limit how much cities can make from traffic fines

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jan 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-31 20:26:42-05

MANTUA, Utah -- A Utah legislator is questioning the motives behind a notorious highway speed trap in northern Utah.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-District 25, has constituents in Logan, and he sponsored a new bill, Senate Bill 100, that he said came out of years of complaints.

He said it's over strict traffic enforcement in the Mantua area of Highway 89, south of Logan. The area has become so infamous for police pulling people over, that he wanted a bill drafted.

But it's not necessarily because Mantua Police seem gung-ho to catch speeders. Sen. Hillyard said wondered what was motivating the department to take such a strict approach to speeders, because, he said, Mantua makes money from those tickets.

That's why SB 100 would mandate just how much dough city governments can rake in from traffic tickets.

It puts a cap on revenues from traffic fines, by mandating that cities not make more than 25 percent of their total revenues from tickets.

Anything above that would be deposited into the State General Fund.

Sen. Hillyard said city police and judges should not be motivated to make money for the entity they work for. However, Police Chief and Mayor of Mantua, Michael Johnson, said that's not the case.

He said speeding is a huge problem on Highway 89 through Mantua, so they focus on it heavily to stop speeders and drunk drivers.

"Whatever we're doing out here, whether we might make some money off of it or not, the main thing that we're doing out here is ensuring the safety of the motoring public," he said.

While he doesn't agree with Sen. Hillyard's bill and called it prejudicial and ill-conceived, he said it would probably not change their actions of strict speed enforcement and ticket-writing along the highway.

Sen. Hillyard said the bill would affect three towns in the state that currently bring in more than the bill's 25 percent threshold, with Mantua being on that list.

The Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee is taking a look at the bill on Monday afternoon.