Down economy could mean more speeding tickets

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PHOENIX -- If you're used to that cushion of 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit that law-enforcement usually allows, you could soon be in for a speeding ticket thanks to the economy.

Cities and states across the country that are struggling to close often massive budget gaps are turning to the revenue generated by speeding tickets. That means fewer warnings and less tolerance for those who routinely speed just a little.

For years, many -- if not most -- drivers have relied on the gap between the actual speed limit and the speed at which officers issue citations -- usually between 5 and 12 mph.

According to a 2005 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, police in 42 states, including Arizona, routinely let drivers go speed by a few miles per hour. That's changing.

"Most people, if they're stopped now, are getting a ticket even if it's only a minor violation of a few miles per hour," James Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association, told USA Today. National Motorists Association is a Wisconsin-based drivers' rights group that helps its members fight speeding tickets.

According to a study published last year in the Journal of Law and Economics, it's not uncommon for law enforcement to hand out more speeding tickets in tough economic times.

While photo-enforcement cameras in Arizona are set to snap drivers at 11mph over the posted speed limit, officers can issue a ticket for anything faster than what's posted.