Tickets could fund police cars
By Chris Lusvardi

SPRINGFIELD - The cost of a speeding ticket in Illinois could increase to help pay for replacing old, rusting police cars.

State Rep. Shane Cultra has proposed legislation to add a $5 fee for anyone who receives a ticket from the state police and is convicted for speeding.The money raised would help the state police buy new cars.A House committee is scheduled to hear Cultra's bill today, the Legislature's first day of the spring session.

The Onarga Republican said state police from his district approached him about the problem because the agency has no money in its budget to regularly replace the vehicles.

Rick Hector, a spokesman for the state police, said the agency has not been able to replace any vehicles using general revenue funds since 2002. In that time, 87 vehicles have been replaced using other funds. The agency has 2,314 vehicles.

"It's poor management on the part of the state," Cultra said. "Once they're behind, it's hard to catch up."

Hector said the agency's fleet averages 122,000 miles of use, and some vehicles are about 10 years old. Ideally, the state police would like to replace its vehicles when they hit 80,000 miles, Hector said.

"It's definitely a concern we have as an agency," Hector said. "We are working with legislators and the governor and hope we can eliminate and reduce the mileage on the vehicles."

Hector said the state police inspects their vehicles on a regular basis, but some vehicles have been breaking down. Some of the older squads have rust on their frames and pose a safety threat for the drivers of the vehicles and others on the road, he said.

The bill's sponsor also is concerned about the safety of the vehicles.

"When they go at high speeds, they need to be reliable," Cultra said.

Cultra didn't have an exact dollar amount on how much money the fee would raise, but he said it would be a "substantial amount."

The proposal is House Bill 4307.