Deputies say speeding tickets worth the effort

Monday, Mar 05, 2007 - 12:00 AM



ABINGDON – Flashing blue lights have been showing up in more rear-view mirrors for those traveling Interstate 81 and other highways in Washington County.

In 2006, sheriff’s deputies wrote more than 9,300 traffic tickets that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Because of a 2004 change in county policy, most of the revenue generated by tickets goes back to the Sheriff’s Office.

The numbers started increasing in January 2005, when Sheriff Fred Newman decided to get more aggressive about patrolling the highways for motorists speeding or committing other traffic offenses.

Of course, it means more grumbling over tickets, but law enforcement officials say it means safer highways, more criminals behind bars and other benefits to county residents.

Between Jan. 1, 2005, and June 30 last year, traffic enforcement revenue in Washington County topped half a million dollars. Where does all the money go?

"It’s used for employee supplements, it’s used to make purchases of equipment and ... it’s used in crime prevention," said Newman.

"We try to utilize the monies as much as we can with Project Lifesaver and things of that nature to benefit the citizens of the county."

Washington County sheriff’s deputies wrote 9,305 traffic tickets last year, 7,007 of them for speeding.

The average speed cited on I-81 was 79 miles per hour