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Traffic violations are a source of funding for many U.S. cities

For many people who receive a traffic ticket, the penalties may seem minor. You may feel disgruntled, but choose to pay the fee anyway, to avoid the process of appealing a relatively small fine.

But what may look minor to you is a big deal to municipalities across the country. Many cities rely heavily on motor vehicle revenues – ranging from parking fees to gas taxes and towing charges.

While state and federal governments primarily use income taxes to fund their budgets, cities and municipalities see vehicle-related revenue as a primary source of income. One study found that the 25 largest U.S. cities collected $5 billion in vehicle revenues in the 2016 fiscal year. Approximately $1.9 billion of that came from parking citations and traffic violations alone.

What this means for drivers

While larger cities may have more flexibility in the types of fees and taxes they collect, many small towns and municipalities rely on vehicle fees and parking payments for over half of their revenues.

This is just one reason why you may notice your town strictly enforcing parking and traffic laws. In one city you may get away with driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, while in another you may not be as lucky.

As some localities are very reliant on these forms of revenue, you may feel as though you are being unfairly targeted by these practices. Even the most minor traffic violations could have lasting financial impacts, raising your auto insurance rates and leading to more significant fines in the future.

That is just one reason why next time you receive a traffic ticket or parking violation, you should think twice before just paying the fine. While our local governments need to raise revenue to continue operating, it should not come at your expense.

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