The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Cop advises on avoiding tickets

Statistics show Highland Park police department does not target students for speeding

Although considered one of the wealthiest areas in Dallas, the neighborhood around SMU is known more as a speed trap than for its manicured lawn and stately multi-million dollar houses.

Approximately 2,000 people in the Highland Park area receive speeding tickets each year, according to Lt. Jerry Bishop of the Highland Park Police Department.

Even though many teens and college students believe traffic patrol cars intentionally target them, studies show tickets are evenly distributed across all age groups. Many adults may feel they have too much driving experience to get a ticket and feel teenagers, who are constantly in a hurry, are more deserving. The studies do reflect, however, that about half of University Park residents receive tickets in areas where there are school zones. Police have to be strict in these areas, since they are saturated with parents, teachers, and children of all ages.

Some SMU students sense a bias toward them in particular. Bishop disagrees with this idea. Instead, he says “as people grow older, their priorities change. When people are younger, they will be out and about more, and someone is more likely to see an officer outside a bar than at his family cookout.”

The old wives tale about having a five mph cushion also proves to be fiction. Actually, according to Bishop, the cushion depends on the officer’s mood at the time. He personally will not stop anyone unless they are going at least 12 mph over the speed limit. The penalty for these tickets can range from a citation to a $200 fine, and speeding is one of the few traffic laws that is not punishable by arrest.

In order to help offenders cope with getting a ticket, Bishop compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for how to behave when getting a ticket.

The absolute best way to avoid getting a ticket is by admitting the mistake and not speeding in the first place.

Make sure to control your anger and reaction when talking to an officer. Remember that police are people too, and they are just trying to enforce good behavior.

If you do have a story, make sure it is the truth. Some officers are a little more lenient than others and will take your story into account. Remember that first impressions make a huge impact on the officer.

For females: tears never work, so don’t put the officer in that position. Also, don’t try to bribe with money or sexual favors. “By putting an officer in the wrong position, he’s going to have to write out a ticket just to prove that he is doing the right thing,” Bishop says.

Bishop earnestly believes, “Every officer is just trying to enforce a behavior. Some people need a ticket to remind them to follow the law whereas others need a few tickets or for their license to be in jeopardy.”

Although the SMU Police Department cannot give moving fines to any student on or off campus, they do issue between 18,000 and 20,000 parking tickets per semester, according to Capt. Mike Snellgrove.

“It’s easy to avoid a parking ticket,” said Snellgrove. “Just park in the right spot.” There are also classes taught about the right way and place to park, which serve as a good way to keep students from having huge parking fines.

Appealing either type of ticket can be a problem, although senior finance major Chris Gerard recalls getting out of both of his speeding tickets but having problems with his SMU parking fines.

“All I had to do was show up in [Highland Park] court [to get the speeding tickets revoked],” he said. “The court has too many other things to be worrying about other than me going a bit over the speed limit.”

According to Bishop, between 15 and 20 percent of the 2,000 Highland Park related speeding tickets are appealed yearly.

“Some people just don’t want the ticket on their record or they have too many and their license is at risk. On the other hand, others say that it’s easier beating murder than it is a speeding ticket,” Bishop says.

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