As cities and states scramble to fill budget gaps with revenue from traffic citations, "not only are the (speeding) tolerances much lower, but the frequency of a warning instead of a ticket is way down," says James Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association, a Wisconsin-based drivers' rights group that helps its members fight speeding tickets.
"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," Baxter says. He cites anecdotal evidence of drivers being pulled over at slower speeds.
Tim Davenport, 42, of Kansas City, Mo., was recently stopped on 15th Street in Blue Springs, Mo., and ticketed for going 40 mph in a 35-mph zone — although the police officer initially ticketed him for 40 in a 25, he says. "I drove down that road again, and the posted limit was 35," he says. "I figured the judge wouldn't accept that, since I was over the speed limit, and would still charge me with it. So I went ahead and paid" the $60 ticket.
Ivan Sever, 60, of Boston was stopped on the Massachusetts Turnpike for doing 55 in a 45-mph speed zone. "I had just passed into the section where the speed limit is 45," says Sever, who teaches recording techniques at Berklee College of Music in Boston. "I saw the (trooper) and slowed down. I passed him carefully. He pulled me over, said I was doing 55."