Traffic cops rack up record city revenue

By P.A. Sévigny on February 5, 2009

For the third year in a row, the city broke its own record as police and parking authorities managed to rack up almost $200M for assorted parking and driving code offenses committed on the island and in the city. Based upon a 6% increase over the number of tickets issued during the previous year, informed critics and more than a few outraged drivers believe the city’s draconian parking policies are nothing less than a “hidden tax”.

“If the tickets are meant to encourage safety and better driving conditions in the city and on the island,” said SOS Ticket legal counsel Eric Lamontagne, “Why are they handing out more tickets for more offenses? This argument doesn’t make sense unless the real objective is simply to bring in more money for the city”

While police spokesman Ian Lafrenière said the SPVM (Service de la Police de la Ville de Montréal) disputes the city’s traffic revenue figures, he does agree traffic violations will be making more money for the city than it made during previous years. In the past year, police issued 614,134 tickets for assorted moving code violations while another 1,219,362 assorted parking tickets were written up by the city’s parking agents. 

While the city expects to make over $135 million out of last year’s various traffic tickets, this sum does not include court costs and accrued interest due to late payments of assorted fines. While many believe the city’s ticket revenue is mostly due to the city’s draconian parking policies, police statistics over the past three years indicate there’s very little difference in the number of parking offences committed over the past three years. While some may consider the city’s new parking policies to be effective, others believe it’s more a question of market saturation insofar as parking agents are handing out the maximum possible amount of parking tickets and can’t issue any more unless the city adds further restrictions to its parking policies.

Moving code violations are another matter. Ever since Yvan Delorme took over as Montreal’s chief of police, the city’s traffic department has been turned into the SPVM’s new cheval de guerre. Previous to Delorme’s promotion in 2005, the SPVM’s overworked traffic department issued only 329 789 tickets for assorted road code violations. In 2006, after Delorme took over the police force, the police beefed up their circulation department and the tally rose to 543 0006 tickets for code violations after which another 579 650 tickets were written up in 2007. Last year, the SPVM’s 133 working traffic cops issued 614 134 code tickets and nobody expects any less in the years to come.

As both the province and the city continue to adapt and renew the code (code routier) drivers will have to be even more careful. 

 “You can eat a sandwich, drink hot coffee and put on your make-up,” said Lamontagne, “…but don’t let the cops see you talking on a cell phone because you’re going to be in big trouble.”

As a lawyer, Lamontagne doesn’t mind seeing the police do their job but he also thinks justice is in trouble when the punishment (ie: the fines) begins to exceed the importance or the significance of the original offense  

“When people begin to think the law is nothing more than a means to exploit them,” he said, “…then people cease to respect the law and then the whole system is in trouble.” 

 

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