Ever wonder what happened to the $100 fine you paid on that speeding ticket?
Well, none of it went to the officer who wrote the ticket. Nor do local departments depend on fines to fund their operations.
"We don't plan our budget on how many tickets we had in the past, hoping we get enough," said Sgt. David Turno of the Aiken Department of Public Safety. "Speeding-ticket fines are not a source that is always there."
In South Carolina, about half of the money from fines stays in the general fund of the city or county where the ticket is written. General fund money pays for garbage pickup, city administration, police and fire operations and other operating expenses.
In Aiken, however, speeding tickets provide a small percentage of the money in the general fund. In fiscal year 2000-01, the city collected about $284,000 in municipal court fines - which includes misdemeanor criminal charges and traffic violations. The city's budget for the fiscal year was $31.5 million.
In Georgia, about 70 percent of the money from fines stays in the county or city where the ticket is written. But that doesn't mean fines cover all of the police budget.
In Thomson, the annual police budget is about $600,000. Traffic fines bring in about $140,000 to the city's general fund.
"(Fines) in no way pay salaries or any of that kind of stuff in the police department. We're not self-supporting like the water or gas (departments)," said Thomson Chief John Hathaway.
Traffic ticket fines in Georgia also go to state retirement funds for court clerks, probate judges and sheriffs.
In terms of a $100 ticket:
Georgia has a similar requirement. But the state adds surcharges to the ticket that funds victims' assistance. In the case of a $100 fine, $5 is added and given to local victims' assistance programs.
Georgia also adds 10 percent for a county jail fund, which helps pay for staffing and construction of local jails. An additional 10 percent goes to the state law enforcement and prosecutor training fund.
In reality in Georgia, a $100 fine is actually a $125 fine.
A $100 fine in Georgia:
A $100 fine in South Carolina:
Staff writer Greg Rickabaugh contributed to the story.
Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.