Ticket Investigation

Emily Corwin / VPR

The laws that determine how speeding tickets are issued and  processed in Vermont are labyrinthine.

A group of Mount Tabor residents attend 2018 Town Meeting inside an early learning classroom.
Emily Corwin / VPR

At 10 cents for every $100, Mount Tabor’s municipal tax rate is among the lowest in the state. Although the rate has always been low, today it is nearly one third what it was in 1999. That’s the year the state’s transportation committee lowered the speed limit on Route 7 in Mount Tabor — against the recommendation of engineers at the Agency of Transportation.

Since then, a single police sergeant has issued over $2 million in traffic fines, mostly to speeding motorists. That money goes a long way in a town of 255. 

Three speed limit signs, one that says 25 mph, one that says 30 mph along with a No Parking This Side of Street sign, and one that is 35 mph
Emily Corwin, Meg Malone / VPR

In 1999, the chairman of the select board for the town of Mount Tabor requested the speed limit on Route 7 in town be reduced from 50 mph to 45 mph. An Agency of Transportation engineering study seemed to support a speed as high as 60 mph. The agency recommended the limit remain at 50 mph.

A stretch of road in Plymouth, Vermont, with a 35 miles per hour speed limit sign on the right and a car approaching in the distance.
Emily Corwin / VPR

Plymouth, Vermont, issued more than $415,620 in traffic ticket fines in 2017 — more than any other town in Vermont. Most tickets were issued in a 35-mile-per-hour zone on Route 100.  The state has not reviewed the speed limit there in 45 years.

A 25 mph speed limit sign on Patchen Road in South Burlington.
Meg Malone / VPR

VPR launched an investigation into the issuing of traffic tickets around Vermont, specifically looking at which towns issued the greatest total fines and number of tickets.

An illustration of a car pulled over on a road by a police officer and the cop is talking to the driver. There is a blue sky, green mountains and a grey house in the background.
Illustration: Aaron Shrewsbury / For VPR

If you got a traffic ticket in Vermont last year, you’re not alone.

Law enforcement issued more than 24,000 tickets worth upwards of $4 million in fines to drivers in Vermont in 2017. A quarter were issued in just three Vermont towns: Plymouth, Bridgewater and Mount Tabor.