Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tickets as Taxes

Recently, during a conversation comparing the obedient driving habits of Americans with the Turks or Indians, I suggested that enforcement of traffic laws in America is encouraged by strong voter aversion to taxes.
This paper predicts and finds evidence that local law enforcement are more likely to give speeding tickets to out-of-towners, tickets to those who are unlikely to appeal their case, and give tickets when taxes cannot be raised. Confirming another suspicion, young women are more likely to get away without a ticket. But does placing a pro-police sticker on your car help? What about looking like a hippie? Further research is necessary...

I have long viewed prosecutorial discretion as a large gap in efforts to create equal treatment under the law. Courts are often very concerned if a law mentions race or gender, but there is virtually no check on an officer's or prosecutor's decision to choose to enforce the law in a biased manner.

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