The worst speed traps? They’re in Florida

Billboard on US Highway 301 S. warning drivers about Lawtey's speed trap

Danger, danger. If you’re among the flock of snowbirds driving from the Great White North to Florida this winter and you wisely opt for the scenic, less-trafficked route along US Highway 301 South from Baldwin to Gainesville or Ocala, beware that you will pass two notorious speed traps.

Before you reach the towns of Waldo and Lawtey (20 miles apart), which use speeding-violation fines to fill their coffers, you’ll see billboards giving fair warning. While unsigned, the billboards are paid for by the American Automobile Association.

Police officer with speed gun just over Lawtey city limits. We took this in September 2010.

“Waldo and Lawtey are the only two municipalities in the US recognized by AAA as traffic traps,” Gregg Laskoski, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South, told me today. While AAA designates some other towns as a “strict enforcement” area for speeders, only Waldo and Lawtey have the not-so-complimentary speed-trap label.  “The distinction comes when the municipality exceeds a certain level of its budget funded exclusively by traffic tickets. We’re not sure exactly what theirs is, but we know they’re high.”

Earlier newspaper reports have put the towns’ ticketing income at a third of their budgets. And an ABC News report last July said that in Lawtey, population 700, police officers in 2007 wrote nearly 9,000 tickets, netting the town $300,000. That’s more than 25 tickets a day!

The police response is always “We’re just making sure people are safe.”

According to earlier articles, AAA pressed the Florida Department of Transportation to at least give drivers more warning. Now there are markers saying “speed strictly enforced.” In Lawtey and Waldo’s defense (though I think they deserve their bad reputations), they’ve erected pre-speed signs highlighted with brightly colored reflective strips that warn of impending speed reductions, from 65 gradually down to 30. I drive this route enough to know they’re not kidding.

If you get nailed, see hints on fighting speed-trap tickets at the National Motorists Association’s site at www.speedtrap.org. And of course we’d love to hear your speed-trap stories.

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144 Responses to “The worst speed traps? They’re in Florida”

  1. Wessel Says:

    The whole story makes me think so much about speed traps in former Eastern Germany.

    In the 1980s it was common practice to have speed traps on the East German autobahn to fill local coffers (or who knows, to fill the pockets of Ossie police officers). The trap consisted of a series of small speed limit signs quickly descending in speed with the police officer at the last sign. When violating one of the speed limits a ticket was handed over to be paid in hard currency, preferably West German D-Marks on the spot. If you couldn’t pay, you were in for a long day at the police station.

  2. Kim Harrell Says:

    I just got caught in this trap, and it DEFINATELY is a trap! I had the misfortune to follow my GPS directions to Jacksonville from the Tampa area. It took me right through Waldo, Starke and Lawtey. On the way through I saw the AAA spped trap signs and was very careful and used my cruise control at each speed limit change….even at 35mph. On the way home I was also being very careful, until I was having a conversation with my friend and missed one of the speed limit changes. This resulted in me driving 55 in a 45 zone. The thing that makes this a ridiculous trap is they change the speed limit about every block…from 65 to 55 to 45 to 35 to 45 to 55 to 65. They change so fast that it is hard to slow down exactly AT the sign…which as the officer will tell you, is where the limit changes. So once you’re on the other side of the sign, you are speeding. I received my $191.00 ticket with the 55 sign in front of my car and the 45 sign behind it….literally. People who have not been there will assume I am exaggerating but I tell you I am not. If they didn’t want to make it a speed trap then they would set the limit at 35 and leave it there until you are out of their town. In addition, they change the speed limits very close to a red light. So it is stupid to change the speed limit just before a signal which is a traffic slowing device all by itself. I will never spend another dime in any of those towns and I hope the economic downturn bankrupts them. I also spent yesterday wishing alot of terrible diseases on their city leaders but then decided that wasn’t a very Christian thing to do. so maybe just an unpleasant bout of food poisoning will hit them.

    • didaniel Says:

      Tell your friends you’re right, Kim. It is a bona fide speed trap. I wouldn’t blame your GPS — that route is MUCH better from Jax to Tampa. You avoid major traffic in Jax and especially Orlando. And people just are more pleasant on the country highway — with, of course, the exception of the speed traps. They’re a terrible nuisance, and out-of-towners are hard pressed to believe they’re as bad as I’m saying they are. But you are certainly proof. I thank you for writing, and I’m very sorry for your ridiculous and expensive ticket.

      • jake Says:

        i ama truckdriver travel all across the country and to keep up with the speed limits on this road is crazy i never try to go over 5 miles over most the time 5 under to conserve fuel i have not got a ticket there yet but the way they change you dont now how fast your suppost to be going……set the criuse at 35 ….thats what gives cops a bad name

    • X Says:

      I have suffered exactly the same story going to University of Florida from Jacksonville, the same $191.00 ticket, etc, etc. And there is no other way to go to FU !!!! (April 2011)

  3. Mike Says:

    Well, now, two days later and you can add Hampton. I’ve lived in North Florida for all of my life and have made the commute between Jacksonville and Gainesville hundreds of times. I’ve always known about Waldo and Lawtey, and have never been ticketed in either one.
    Hampton, now, is a different story. Some years ago, (maybe 15) they extended their city limits to include US 301 and lowered the speed limit to 55. For a few years, you could add Hampton to your list of speed traps, but then for some reason (pressure, maybe) they backed off having a speed trap and the “Speed Strictly Enforced” signs came down.
    I’m here to tell you that the signs need to go back up. They got me going 65 in a 55 zone. Hampton is a city centered on CR 18 at the railroad tracks–a mile east of 301. Their extending the city limits seems to be pretty much just a sham to let them connect with the ticket gravy train.
    So watch out for the traffic light on 301 in southern Bradford county.

    • didaniel Says:

      I’m sorry for your ticket, Mike, but I don’t see how getting ticketed going 65 in a 55 is a “speed trap” unless it changed immediately without warning and you were pulled over the second you went by the sign. If that’s the case, I hope you fight it because I think you’d win. Good luck!

  4. Kunle Says:

    I was ticketed today in the city of LAWTEY. I couldnt believe it. It was so quick despite being careful and going with the traffic. It was a female red head office that ticket me. It was a set up.

    I didn’t know the reputation of the town until i was on my way back (heading North) that i saw a big billboard warning motorists of “speed trap” in the city. I was lucky that i wasn’t ticketed in Waldo. Didn’t know about that one.

    It a shame. Is it possible to mount a successful contest in this case? My ticket is $266 :(

    • didaniel Says:

      You can try to fight it, but if you were speeding there’s probably not much of a chance. You might also contact the Tampa office of AAA, as they have been fighting Lawtey’s policy. Good luck!

  5. William Jones Says:

    My daughter and I were forced to go thru Waldo driving from Jacksonville to Tampa 2 weeks ago and received a $244 ticket for driving 60 in a 45.

    These Waldo thug cops work in pairs now so they can lie in court backing up each others stories.

    They lurk just a few feet in front of a 55 MPH speed sign where the speed technically is still 45…then add about 5 mph onto your ticket. That’s exactly how they got us for 60 in a 45.

    So that’s how they do it. Highway robbery.

    A disgrace to the State of Florida

    You cannot drive along Hwy 301 in Waldo, Fl without seeing flashing blue cop lights dotting the hiway.

    What a bunch of scum.

    I’m fighting mine in court at the Alachua County Courthouse.

    Hopefully the judge will give us a break as I have no points on my record.

    Just to let yall know as of New Years 2010 Waldo is STILL a town to be avoided at all costs due to malicious speed trap tactics.

    • didaniel Says:

      I feel your pain. Highway 301 is the best route from Jax to Tampa, but it does come with the danger of a ticket. I was traveling there a few weeks ago and it is really a challenge to hold to those ridiculous limits, even being fully aware of the consequences.

  6. Pete Says:

    Just got a $394 ticket in Waldo for going 31 in a 15 school zone. All signs at the road level said 35mph. Only indication was one sign strung up 30 feet above the road where nobody should be looking when they are driving. Very bad place this town. Sleazy bastards will get what is theirs. They probably claim to be christian people too. I have friends in politics and will do everything in my power to put bad press for this town and this poorly run liberal state (as messed up as California) who allows this bull to go on.

    • didaniel Says:

      Ugh, that bites. … Btw, I cleaned up your language a bit, Pete. Not sure what liberal (Florida? Liberal?) and Christian has to do with it, but, yep, it’s a speed trap. I haven’t heard about the school-zone trick. Sounds extra heinous.

  7. Syb20 Says:

    I was driving from Jacksonville (March 10) and was getting off 301 on my way to Gainesville, I was slowing down from 45mph, the speed limit for 301 in that area, and making a right into this other road with a school zone. I swear I was hitting on my brakes as I was going around the curve (curve speed limit is 35mph) and there is a school right in front of me, with a speed limit of 15mph. I got a ticket for doing 32 in this 15mph zone which I was approaching. I swear this 15mph zone is probably 2 blocks, and is hard to see when you coming around the bend. When you see the school, you are already ruled in violation. So I got a ticket for $394 and I dont think that makes sense. I was slowing down from 45mph and was under the 35mph I still get a ticket, and right in front of me where the guy stopped me was a sign for 55mph. How ridiculous is that?? Am going to fight this one; but i dont knnow how :( Starting with the UF legal dept for students. Free lawyers, maybe they can get it reduced.

    • didaniel Says:

      This whole school-zone thing is new to me, probably because i don’t enter the highway there. I’ll stay alert for yet another new hazard. Thanks for letting us know.

  8. eiafdxp19 Says:

    Echo Pete and Syb20 here. Almost the exact same scenario. I was the passenger, and coming off the exit from 301 to 24 saw no school zone sign but did see the 35 mph sign; all the while it was hard to figure out if there was one lane of traffic or two, and all of a sudden there’s a ’15 MPH when flashing’ sign. This is at 12:40PM and a school crossing light is flashing! Are you kidding me?? Now if you’re the driver and trying to process all this info and don’t see this light, you figure if you’re doing 31 in a 35 zone, you’re OK. By the way, no registration was given to the officer, even though he asked for it. I guess the $394 fine caused him to forget to get about it. BTW, being out of state (NC) I guess they don’t expect anyone to contest. All this after being very careful when seeing the ‘speedtrap’ billboards and the bewildering collection of speed reduction signs, some no more than a few hundred feet apart (duly documented elsewhere). Bottom line, I will tell every one I know and by any means of communication not to travel anywhere in Alachua County.

  9. Doug Says:

    I am 46 years old. I have no problem paying a ticket when I know I was in the wrong, however, I have a BIG problem when I get a ticket for something I didn’t do.
    I got a speeding ticket in the well known Lawtey’s speed trap area. I actually was not speeding as my son witnessed – a BMW was speeding past me and my radar went off – we could see the police in front of us on the side of the road – we both looked at the speedometer and we were under the limit – so no worries – then the officer proceeded to pull us over instead. I feel he decided to choose me because I was driving a fancy new Tahoe, my radar detector in the window, and my out of state plates….easy money. He got a laser speed reading from the other car that passed us. I wish I had a video to send to FOX news. I questioned the officer in a very civil way and explained how this sets a bad example for children. He threatened me and asked me if I was looking to go to jail! My son was in tears and now hates the police! I had to explain that they are not usually bad. He is a mature 10 year old boy. I will likely send a letter to whatever authorities expressing my disappointment in a professional manner. A bad example this officer sets. No question about it, this was a dishonest officer! Reviewing websites about this small town’s speed trap and the gross funds they make from it, something should be done – significant publicity should be given to this method of theft.
    If I had the way – I would propose a simple improvement in all laser guns used; all that needs changed is an accurate camera system should be integrated into the laser system where an electronically secure file is created when the laser trigger is pulled that contains an accurate picture of the part of the vehicle being monitored and logged by the laser. This way a dishonest officer would no longer be able to bend the law to their liking.
    Also, in my ticket, no speed is recorded or written in the mph section; the officer left this blank.

    This incident simply lights a fire under me to try and do something about it.

    • didaniel Says:

      Sounds awful!! I would contact AAA office in Tampa, as they’re the ones who pay for the warning billboards, and also write a letter to the editor of the Gainesville, Fla. and Jacksonville, Fla. papers, call chief of police, and the mayor.

  10. fla 301 Says:

    You dumb yankees need to wake up and pay attention to the speed limit signs instead of talking to each other and on your cellphones….i live down here, do the limit and have no problems, but yet you speed right past me in town…..YOU DESERVE TICKETS AND I LAUGH AT EVERY ONE OF YOU…..

    • didaniel Says:

      Hmmm… I wasn’t going to post the “dumb Yankees” response because it’s so mean-spirited, but then I thought what the heck. I’m not really out to censor folks, and you know who looks dumber in this post, of course. Not that it matters, but I once was with a friend who got a ticket in Waldo and we were both Floridians with a Florida tag. These are speed traps, pure and simple.

    • jason Says:

      I’d say FLA301 is the chief of police in Lawtey. Many for being such an old man i’m surprised you know how to use a computer. Wait actually i take it back it can’t be the chief of police because there’s no way they even have internet in Lawtey, let alone have they heard of a computer. Country boy rednecks….

    • Dan Says:

      These cops from meaningless “speed trap” towns only ticket out-of-town drivers. Typical ignorant, poor redneck.

      • didaniel Says:

        They certainly ticket people with Florida plates, but I’m not sure how it breaks down. I don’t agree with pejorative blanket statements like “ignorant, poor redneck.”

  11. Pete Says:

    Yep, they got me also on a totally trumped up charge. Got hit for a 65 in a 55 zone so the officer said. I explained to him that we were in a 65 zone and he then changed his story and said that I accelerated from the stop light up to 65 before I got to the 65 mph sign. I then explained to him that it was less than a 1/10th of a mile from the light to the sign and my old beater 1983 Mazda pickup powered by 4 little hamsters was incapable of getting up to 65 that quickly (3/4 of a mile and I might have a chance to get to 65mph if I put it to the floorboard). No dice and he still wrote me up a ticket for $191. Like others here I wasn’t about to drive a 2000+ mile round trip to fight it, however I did write a very formal letter to their Traffic Bureau with my complaints. I still haven’t received anything back and don’t really expect to. One thing I didn’t tell the officer is that I’m also a LEO with over 25 years in another state. Needless to say, I am very partial to Florida licence plates now. Drive Safe out there.

  12. Sherrie Says:

    This morning I got a ticket going through Waldo. I was born and raised in this area and know about Waldo’s speed trap. I was very careful to watch for the speed zone changes and when I was stopped I was doing 32 in a 35 mph zone. He then informed me about the school zone — the ticket cost me $394.

    The sun was shining in my face. I had my visor down to block it and I DID NOT see a school zone sign. I work for the school system. I am VERY aware of the school zones.

    This is the first ticket I have ever received.

  13. Peter Bondsfield Says:

    I received a $394 ticket in the 15mph school zone in Waldo on May 5th 2010. The cop “Mr nice guy” advised I was doing 30mph in a 15mph school zone. On my return journey I noticed all school zone lights were extinguished in this area except the 15mph from 301 to 24. How convenient! I question the legality of these flashing yellow lights in school zones in Florida. In most jurisdictions a yellow flashing light is attached to an advisory sign such as dangerous bend, construction site and even on a traffic signal. Even the school buses in Florida display yellow lights before using the red ones. They are not regulatory lights. I think they could at least use the fluorescent signs you see on the highways. At least they are distinguishable. These people are scammers, I am surprised that the State of Florida allows this, it give them a black eye. It adds Florida to the joke about rural cops in the South always giving stupid tickets!

    • didaniel Says:

      It seems unbelievable to me, too. AAA has tried, but I guess they’ve learned how to stay within the letter of the law, but certainly not the spirit.

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  15. deedee Says:

    I am from NE Florida and spent many a hay day traveling to Gainesville right through Lawtey and Waldo. We all knew about it and did our best to respect the speed traps but today was down right crooked! My father was driving a small dump truck through Waldo and was clocked doing 58 in a 45. the problem is the truck was bought from a county government and has a governor that prevents the truck from going over 55 and we were only traveling 47 at the time while decelerating from doing 50 in the 55 zone. The officer clocked another vehicle that pulled past us and then wrote the ticket against my father. Even the Bradford county cops who serve in the town between Waldo and Lawtey will tell you these guys are dirty….they enjoy their speed trap notoriety and get there kicks out of there twisted “celebrity” status.

  16. VM Says:

    I am planning my trip in a few weeks from Toronto to Sarasota FL. I found this info about Waldo and Lawtey because for some reason Google maps sugest to travel through 301, but AAA triptik offers to go through Orlando. After reading all these responses, I decided I’ll use AAA route – that is I’ll go through Orlando. Altough it is 40km more, it is just 12 minutes longer. How bad is trafic in Orlando when I want to pass it on the way to Sarasota? I’ll be passing Jacksonville around 7pm Friday night, then probably I’ll stay somewere before Orlando to sleap and on the Saturday morning I’ll leave for Sarasota. I have to be in Sarasota Saturday around noon.

    Altough these small cities get some money from trafic tickets, they don’t get any money from people like me on other stuff – for example they are in the right spot for me to spend a night – that is hotel and dinner for a large family , but instead I’ll spend my money in some other town on the I95 or I4 route. Problem is these cops are punishing other towns on that route too, but it is their problem, not mine.

    • didaniel Says:

      It is your problem if you opt for Orlando, which has awful traffic on the interstate. I’ve driven both routes many times, and in fact am driving down Saturday as well. I’ll be on 301, slowing waaaaaaaaay down for the speed traps. I much prefer that over getting stuck in Orlando six-lane interstate bumper-to-bumper traffic. And on the Fourth week. Yikes, and no thanks!

      • VM Says:

        Would you suggest any alternative to these towns? For example taking road 121 instead? Is that road much worse? Is trafic so bad in Orlando even Saturday morning?
        Too many people reported that they got ticket even driving below speed limit. I dont’ want to start my vacation with a speeding ticket :-).

        Thanks for your help!

  17. DJ Says:

    I do think it is time for the Florida Legislature to simply revoke the charters of these two localities for these fraudulent and despicable acts.

    These are STATE and FEDERAL Highways. The speed limits should be set by professionals with expertise in traffic management.

    Alternatively, I am sure there would be wide support for building an interstate freeway or state tollway with a 1000′ buffer on each side directly through the center of these towns where the right of way is specifically by law not within the corporate limits of these towns.

    • didaniel Says:

      I’m not sure about that solution. Seems like someone who can prove entrapment should at least start with taking them to court. All in all, yes, it is an outrage and hard to believe it continues. We drove through last week and I”ll be driving through tomorrow, and, wow, do I watch my speed.

  18. john Says:

    Just joined the “Waldo Club”

    I can’t believe it, both my wife and I commented about going through Waldo, we watched every sign and kept it under the limit but we still got nailed. We received a near $200 ticket for going 65 in a 55 – hell we were just between the signs we knew the 55 was coming. I can’t believe 2 adult drivers can’t make it through that town both fully aware of what they do there.
    It is an outrage and the state of Florida needs to cut the amount of money they receive from tickets. By cutting the revenue they receive they won’t have enough money to put gas in the cruiser.

    I for one will use I-75 / I 10 to Jacksonville and I do hope all those backward “ssa” people starve because they won’t get anymore of my money I’m done with Waldo.

    • didaniel Says:

      That stinks. I am so sorry. I, too, am so super careful and won’t be surprised if someday I’m nailed. Why, why, why is this allowed to continue? One day I muster the energy to investigate further. Thanks for sharing your pain. We feel for you.

  19. D Says:

    Man, am I ever glad that I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, where the RCMP (which for those who don’t know are, in most provinces/territories federal, provincial, and municipal police) will rarely ever have much for a speed “trap”, what they do, however, is have an unmarked car, of the same make/model of the regular RCMP cars, with all the antennas and such as a radar car, (which does stand out to the motorist who actually pays attention to the road and the traffic) and then have the marked car up the highway, usually in the service “U-Turn Road” (for construction and emergency crews’ usage), or the nearest on-ramp, out of sight from where the offending motorist would be. Most people have enough sense to slow down, but the ones who are doing well over the limit, such as 140km/h (about 87mph) in a 110km/h (about 68mph) zone, are the ones they’re usually after. Now, what really puzzles me, is that 140km/h is the highest my cruise control can be set to, using the “Accelerate” button…

    Usually, if you’re only a few over the speed limit, and you meet an RCMP car driving along a town/country road, most often he/she won’t do anything, except point downward as a way to instruct you to lower your speed. Although, I have ridden in an RCMP car, and the radar clocked the car itself to be doing an average of 90km/h (just under 56mph) in an 80 (50mph) zone. Since trees don’t actually come towards you while going around turns, one could say that is an accurate measurement of a the police car’s speed.

  20. D Says:

    I also usually like to refer to police as “Bears” like how they do in songs and movies about truckers, but, in the case of your horrid speed traps, I would call those police officers “Pigs” as most people like to call police officers these days.

  21. Jan Says:

    WALDO….you have to be careful getting off 301 in waldo its a school zone right around the corner and if your not paying attention it drops to 15 mph before you can react. I was cited on a federal holiday with school closed in this school zone. Waldo is getting just as bad they quickly drop the speed throught the intersection on 301 from 65 to 55 then back to 65 dont blink you will miss it. The state needs to stop this by limiting the amount the city can recieve from citations and the state should keep 100 percent of the revenue over that limit, then writting tickets wouldnt pay and this would all go away.

  22. JWL Says:

    My day was ruined by the school zone speed trap in Waldo. Got a ticket for 35 in a 15 for a $444 ticket. I’m not convinced the light was blinking. I certainly would have slowed down had I seen it! I had already slowed from 65 to 55 to 45 to 35 following the other signs. Does anyone know when that light starts and stops blinking? My ticket was written at 7:45am. Could it be off due to daylight savings time?

    The officer looked right at the car seat for my 18 month old daughter in the back of my beat-up minivan and then took away the money I needed to buy her Christmas gifts. He didn’t even have the guts to show me how much the ticket was. I had to open it up after he was gone for that kick in the teeth.

    You’d think that if their real interest were to protect kids (and not to write exorbitant tickets) that they’d have additional signs posted. There wasn’t a child in sight – and no houses on the side opposite the school where kids would be coming to school from. By 7:45am I’m sure all of the kids were already there.

  23. John Says:

    I travel from Sarasota to DC and back three or four times a year. Yes, 301 is the better choice when it comes to distance and fuel consumption.

    Yesterday was my turn in Lawtey. The officer wrote me up for 59 in a 45 mph zone, my first ticket in over 40 years. I know I wasn’t speeding because I know that that stretch of 301 is a trap. I slow down, generally a couple of miles below the speed limit as insurance.

    But it comes down to my word against the officer and his radar gun. As the magistrate is likely to be related to the officer (and his pets), this is not an argument I want to take into court.

    What is more galling than the literal highway robbery is that a) ticket has to be paid by other than a personal check and b) the ticket contains the clear threat that if the ticket is contested, all costs will fall on the defendant. No costs are stated, not even a range. So what are we talking about here? I’m willing to bet that it’s closer to $1K than $25.00.

    The non-specific threat has the odor of a SLAPP suit, one that challenges a person with costly litigation for trying to exercise a basic right. Here, the right isn’t driving–which is a state regulated privilege–but the right to confront an accuser in a court. By making it too expensive to challenge, Lawtey gets free money.

    Yes, I’d like to see that stretch of 301 have its municipal charters revoked. Alternatively, move 301 out of their jurisdictions. My other ideas would land me in Starke, not exactly on my itinerary, though also on 301.

    • didaniel Says:

      John’s final sentence, dear readers, is a reference to the state prison there in Starke. So, John, I’m so sorry for you. I keep waiting for my time to come as well, but I swear that if I *know* I was doing 45 and got a ticket for 59, I’ll be fighting it. I was there over the holidays and though I slowed WAY down I also found myself not always slowing way down in time, and I could see that for a few seconds I was speeding, either on my way down on speedometer or up, when leaving town, and I imagine this is how they get a lot of folks. I do wonder if other speeding tickets state that defendant must bear the costs of contested tickets. It’s an interesting point to raise, so thank you!

  24. John Burgess Says:

    Well, a 200-mile drive to argue the case, unknown costs, and a low likelihood of my word being valued more highly than Officer Pickpocket argues against fighting the ticket.

    I will, however, call up to Lawtey to see what the court costs might be and report back.

  25. Buddy Griffin Says:

    Helli DiDaniel, My son just got a ticket in Waldo. He followed me down to the flea market as i was going on to Ocala and he could drive my car back home afterwards. He was being watched from behind a big white building at the flea market. He didn’t fasten his seat belt immediately upon getting into the car, but had it on when the officer showed up accusing his windows were too dark. They were tested by the officer and found to be a whopping 5% too dark. He saw a black bag in the floor board and all but drawing his gun inquired as to what was in the bag. It was to extremely lethal CD’s which were purchased at the flea market both which were PG rated. He graciously waived the ticket on the dangerous windows but gave a $80 ticket for the seat belt which he had observed not being fastened from a distance. My son is 20, a student, and has a part time job making $175 per week. This is not justice except for the Gustavo Waldo Police Dept. whose days are numbered as the economy will not support much longer. Evidence is Wisconsin, Calif., and the federal govt. all of which is not supporting the citizens but existing because of them. They wouldn’t exist if they didn’t get their income from the public being spied on and supporting their tactics. I hope judgement day proves as harsh for them as they are on others. The snuff spitting officers need to try somewhere like Jacksonville where the real crime is and maybe one of the “not so respectful of the law knows how to take care of them!”.

    • didaniel Says:

      Amazing that they both ticketed the seat belt from observing from afar, and that they **waived** the window tinting. When do they ever waive anything?! Consider your son lucky. And why the heck did he over-tint in the first place?

  26. John Says:

    Sorry I didn’t report back as quickly as I should have on court costs.

    I could not get a definitive answer from the Court clerk. All she would say is that “they vary” and that “they could run over $1,000, ‘depending.’”

    Until I win a lottery, I won’t trust my luck on whether my costs would come in at the low or high end of that estimate!

    To be fair, though, when I sent in a check for $7.00, along with my Driver’s Ed certificate, to cover processing costs as the information on the ticket/return envelope seemed to suggest, it was returned un-chashed, with a note saying that this cost was not levied to those who paid the fine online. Magnanimous when it comes to chickenfeed, apparently.

  27. didaniel Says:

    Funny about the $7! I don’t blame you about not taking a chance.

  28. Joe W. Says:

    Just went thru the Florida speed trap area yesterday but had no problem. I was quite aware of the rep. so eyes were on every sign between Gainesville and Jacksonville. I also was aware speed limits are in effect at the exact location of the sign so I was already on the brakes and below the limit before I reached them…but still , it was nerve-wracking because of the muliple, quick speed zone changes and many of them had no advisory that the limit was about to change… So the danger was eyes on the signs but off the road. In their zeal to make a buck they are creating a hazard for drivers and pedestrians..obviously, safety is not the number one priority….

  29. didaniel Says:

    Interesting point of view!

  30. Bill Says:

    Just got a ticket in LAWTEE. Claimed I was doing 66 in a 55. I knew about the speed trap and was slowing with the changing speed signs when I spotted him. The officer would not show me his radar showing I was speeding and insisted I stay in the car. I’m telling you I was not speeding or trying to get away with anything. The police did not want to hear any of it. They are licensed pirates and they need to have there police rights taken away as they are massively abusing their powers.

    • didaniel Says:

      That is so awful. I worry about the same thing. So sorry that happened to you. :(

    • Lisa S Says:

      I had the same expirience on Friday. The PO refused to show me the radar reading and stated that Fl law does not require it. I just that a new law was passed that the use of a radar has to be posted on the citation, which it was not. I am going to fight the ticket. Hopefully I’ll win.

      • didaniel Says:

        Please let us know how it goes and good luck! I don’t understand the importance of whether use of a radar is posted on citation, but I’ll take your word for it.

  31. Vickie Andrade Says:

    Travel Florida several times yearly for many years, KNOW about the speed trap signs and changing limits, watch very carefully, 64 yr. female, with ticket in my life about 25 yrs. ago. Five miles past Waldo, 4 miles before Stark, 65mph speed limit, travelling with 81 yr. aunt, retired as baliff for Rowan County, NC and we are both watching signs and speed. I see light ahead is green, white tractor trailer beside me in right lane, going slightly faster than me (I’m on 62 with cruise), he is blocking right side of hwy. view, pick-up truck in left turn lane to my left, time is 7:45am, mid-August , 2011, still not daylight, white police car pulls rapidly out of drive on left of highway, U-turns and I am amazed he’s pulling me over in white van, tractor trailer goes on. He says I’m doing
    65 in 55mph at Hampton. I politely tell him I thought it was 65mph area, and he says, “No, speed limit slows down between towns”……..What town??
    I accept my ticket, go up and return to view area again to see how I didn’t see signs, etc.
    There’s a sign on each side of 301, saying 55mph, view was blocked by white tractor trailer on my right and pick up truck on left in turn lane, low visibilty; no warning sign of speed reduction ahead. It is only 1/10 of a mile 55, on each side of the traffic light! There’s no buildings, no homes, NOTHING to indicate a “town”, except a sign that says “Hampton” and another sign with arrow to the right, indicating the town is to the right on a road leading from #301.
    WHY would a speed limit sign be erected on the LEFT SIDE of a left turn lane in the median? I am a great driver, but I have to watch the road to keep my vehicle in my own lane with a vehicle on each side of me! WHO would be looking to the left of a left turn lane with vehicles turning left at a light? NEVER have I seen such a traffic hazard……. no warnings of the “town” ahead, reduction in speed limit, but Mr.
    Rodriguez is ready for you!!! He already had another vehicle pulled in the 3 minutes it took me to turn around and view the area again.

  32. Toronto School Buses Says:

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  34. nhgomer68@yahoo.com Says:

    ALERT!!! Now the city of Hampton, Florida has joined the the Speed Trap brigade of Hwy. 301. Hampton is located between Starke and Waldo. A small stretch of approx. 3 miles of Hwy. 301 with one traffic light. Second week of Dec., on the south bound side they had 3 patrol cars doing a circle from the traffic light south with a steady ticket writing party. I checked and the department has 5-9 employees, on this day two officers in a Plain black unmarked cruiser pulled me in for speeding(68 in a 55) and had nothing to say except, “Smiling and enjoy your stay in Florida” as he handed me a $191.00 ticket. I have been traveling Hwy. 301 for over 40 years and this was my first ticket in the state of Florida, I know of the many speed traps and am very careful of my speed. This ticket is bogus and I will appear in court to contest it. The two other cruisers were an unmarked brown cruiser and a marked city of Hampton blue and white cruiser. Beware of your speed, as they may not be accurate for this city Chuck

    • didaniel Says:

      So sorry to hear that, Chuck. I’m glad you mentioned this because I was there twice around the holidays (going south, then north) and thought, hmmmm, Hampton? I don’t remember that town. So your note confirms my mental note. I guess they figured they’d get in on the fast-buck game. Why this remains legal I’m not sure. I found myself speeding up just before the limit went up — yet another dangerous habit. I didn’t get popped, but I could have been. Let us know what happens!

  35. Mark Says:

    I just got one in Hampton too. I was coming south on 221 and turned left onto 18. As I turned I saw a 45 MPH sign in front of me. As I drove towards it, I noticed the flashing lights in my rear view mirror. Clocked doing 44 in a 30 zone…..I was “still within the city limits.”

    I’m unsure if there ever was a 30 MPH sign on the route I took. If there was, I missed it completely. I was under the assumption that 45 was the correct speed.

    Sigh.

    • didaniel Says:

      Sorry about that, Mark. I’m sure there was a sign somewhere, but they don’t always make it easy to see. Especially if you were turning onto a new road. One of my fears is that I’ll speed up before it’s allowed. I’m guessing they clock a lot of people that way.

  36. John Says:

    I think there are only two solutions to the speed trap problem.

    First, one could–were funds available–start a boycott of all merchants along this strip of 301. To be effective, though, would take money to buy billboard space on both ends of the traps.

    The other is something that any driver could do: When approaching Lawtey on 301, reduce your speed to 30 mph and keep it there until you leave 301. Sure, it’s slow, but it serves to both avoid tickets and to back up local traffic–share the pain with those who profit from the traps’ existence.

    • didaniel Says:

      There actually are billboards on Highway 301, paid by AAA out of its Tampa office. I’d say after driving 301 a gillion times, many people do stay at a snail’s pace. The ones who do not baffle me. Do they just not see the signs, do they ignore them, or … the most intriguing idea, are they locals and locals are perhaps not ticketed? Now that would be interesting.

      • John Says:

        I realize there are signs that warn of the traps. My suggestion is that different signs — signs that actively call for a boycott of all merchants in the blighted area — be put up. Let the citizens who benefit from the money confiscations feel some pain for their disregard for justice.

        They get the benefit of lower taxes because the police unjustly enrich a budget that taxpayers would otherwise have to front. Perhaps if they had to pay the real costs, the taxpayers would decide they didn’t need speed traps.

        Instead, I see residents scolding, “Shouldn’t speed!” when the issue is not speeding, per se, but the yo-yoing of speed signs with the sole intent of increasing city income through speeding tickets. The citizens seem to be willing to turn a blind eye — conveniently — because it’s good for their pocketbooks. Let’s make it bad for their pocketbooks instead!

      • didaniel Says:

        I seriously doubt the residents are gaining much from the speed traps. I think a follow-the-money campaign would be more instructive. The police dept. is taking in the money. Where is it going? I also don’t think many thru-drivers stop in those towns anyway. The businesses serve the locals, so I can’t imagine a boycott aimed at travelers would make a dent in anyone’s business.

      • Doug Bracken Says:

        In this area some unlucky people are getting tickets that aren’t even speeding. Some of the issues are because of dishonest officers and dishonest methods. Dishonest methods such as using another speeders radar clock to pullover somebody who isn’t speeding. I can’t believe after all this time that the state of Florida hasn’t dealt with this issue yet.

      • didaniel Says:

        I agree. It’s the unscrupulous behavior that really gets to me. As to why Florida hasn’t dealt with it, I’d say they have bigger fish to fry and butting heads with police is something I don’t find the government doing much of. I’ve hoped that the Gainesville Sun or the Florida Times Union in Jacksonville or a TV station would do some digging, not that we should leave it up to the media to keep on top of things. But that’s often the way it goes. Someone needs to take on the project of getting this issue recognized as important. Doug?

  37. Got a speeding ticket... should I go to court? - Page 2 - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums Says:

    [...] up because there are two towns in Florida that are notorious for ticketing anyone who drives thru. The worst speed traps? They’re in Florida Places we go, People we see Before you reach the towns of Waldo and Lawtey (20 miles apart), which use speeding-violation [...]

  38. Rugged Maniac 5k | Starpulp Says:

    [...] Yup, the Rugged Maniac 5k was at Waldo Motorsports. If you’ve ever driven from Jacksonville to Gainesville, you’re probably familiar with Waldo for it’s famously, huge speed trap. [...]

  39. jeff Says:

    $191 Dollar Ticket, really inappropriate ass of a cop. When i asked him where, he got all defensive and nervous.

    I am pretty sure it was crap, I paid close attention and was very conscious of my speed.
    The officer had some big story about where and how I was within 100yds of the 55 mph sign, but was already going 55mph, but was in the 45mph zone.
    While I recall consciously looking at my speedometer and staying at the speed limit.
    Has anyone successfully fought a ticket there, and how did you do it?
    Thanks

    • didaniel Says:

      I’m so sorry, Jeff. If I ever get a ticket there, I’m sure that will be why. It’s really hard to not speak up in advance. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t, but good luck fighting it. I don’t know anyone who has, or if people who have are successful. Please let us know if you try. It’s such a ridiculous large amount of money. Where do you live? I always wonder if locals get off the hook. Would love to see a study on that!

  40. Larry Says:

    I made the trip today from Fernandina to Gainesville via US 301. It was 104 miles one way. I made the trip north from Gainesville to Fernandina 17 years ago and recognized it as a speed trap then during my first shot up US 301. I have avoided it since. I took an alternate route home, I75N to I10 E and it took 136 miles but it was 15 minutes faster than the trip going down. And I stopped on I75 for gas and ate at a restaurant just off of I 10. Think about that all you 301 businessmen. I would not shop in your towns just on principle.
    Several years ago one of the news investigative programs did a story on those towns and found that a huge chunk, 50% or more of the towns’ budget,was funded with speeding tickets. I wonder what your collective reputation has cost you in the long run.

    • didaniel Says:

      I used to take the same alternate route you did, Larry, until I got tired of being stuck in traffic jams near Jacksonville and especially Orlando. Too, too many times I sat on I-4 fuming. I find 301 to be extremely peaceful, rural and lovely — except those dang speed traps. But sum total, they make up 5 miles of the 104-mile corridor. Of course I”ll change my tune if I get a ticket. I did just get one in town in Moab, Utah. All my fault, though I’m blaming the rental car and overzealous trooper. But it was $90, not more than double, like at these traps.

  41. Dan Says:

    You people are insane! Drive the speed limit. Pull your heads out of your rear ends. Take a little personal responsibility for a change. I’ve lived in the area for 35 years and drive this route regularly. I’ve never been stopped and I rarely see anyone else being stopped. Driving a 2 ton or more motor vehicle is not like taking a ride at Disney. It takes concentration and patience. You can drive a thousand miles and have nothing ever happen until mile 1001. It’s the same reason 10 people died in the smoke on I-75. They drove into a whiteout and didn’t slow down. They just assumed they would pop out the other side. Everyone thinks they can drive like they’re at the Daytona 500 and nothing will happen. Then they blame FHP or some other government agency for not gently taking them by the hand and telling them “slow down junior.” Grow up folks!!

    • didaniel Says:

      Wow, Dan, such empathy for others! I drive that corridor a few times a year and often see people pulled over, so I”m surpised that you drive it often and rarely see people pulled over. It’s a known speed trap by AAA, but I’m sure you think that organization should grow up, too, huh? As for the people who died in the interstate crash, it was determined that the road should not have been reopened. It was immediate white-out conditions, with no warning for drivers. We all make mistakes, can slow down, should follow the rules more, but I don’t think your example is a great one. But each to their own!

    • P Nichol Says:

      Dan if you have lived in the area for 35 years & drive this route on a regular basis I am sure you have this route memorized like the back of your hand & it know enough to drive it without any problems. It is those who are not accustomed to it that are having problems. Be careful though, it sounds like even the most careful have found themselves with tickets. Your arrogance leaves you wide open.

  42. Kathryn C Flanagan Says:

    I was on my way to my niece’s funeral in Ocala on June 10, 2012; I was driving south on 301 near Waldo, I passed a military convey that was in the right lane. Apparently I did not see the speed limit sign change from 65 to 45, Boy, the cop pulled me over immediately; I showed him my driver’s license; asked him if he wanted to see my insurance and registration cards-he said “No.”-I am sure he had already pulled up my information before he had walked up to my car. Well, my ticket is $244.00, that has to be paid by July 9, 2012. I live on Social Security and my financial assistance to this county at this time will greatly hurt my financial needs in July. I would argue about this ticket with this county, but they would only have the state of Georgia suspend my license. I have no recourse except to do this!! —I remember over the years, different members of my family have gotten tickets in Waldo, and in fact, I had just mentioned that fact to my husband when I saw the “Speed Trap” sign!!

    • didaniel Says:

      I’m so sorry to learn about your experiences. :(

      • Kathryn C Flanagan Says:

        “Sorry” want pay by bills in July, after I pay this $244.00. Hope the cops in Waldo get their eyes glazed from eating so many of the donuts I am paying them to eat!!

  43. Kathryn C Flanagan Says:

    “won’t” not “want”!

  44. Gus Says:

    The chief is a “Boss Hog” Jackie Gleason wanna be. When I was ticketed down there, BTW (in Florida the more north you go the more south you end up) he has his fat ars parked behind a billboard but you could still see his stomach sticcking out from behind the sign and he made some obscene jesture (I think) that he’d caught me. Well a lot of people dont even bother paying the fines down there because most states don’t count Fla points on the record so no points no insurance issues. I’m just glad to see that Lawtey is irrelevant and meaningless as those rednecks would probably starve if they had to earn an honest living. Well except for “Boss Hogg” as he could live off of his stomach for years…

    • didaniel Says:

      I was tempted to not allow this comment because it’s negative and personal, but I decided to anyway. I don’t think a person’s stomache has anything to do with his/her job. I do want to point out that I”m pretty sure that Gus, along with stooping to personal attacks, is most likely wrong about Florida points on a license. Everything is computerized these days and if you get a ticket anywhere, it will show up on your insurance. So Lawtey is not irrelevant, as far as I know. If someone thinks differently, please give evidence. And for crying out loud, pay your fines or fight ‘em! Do not ignore them.

  45. Re hannado Says:

    Just had my first ticket “Waldo” of course! How do those guys sleep at night? I will never drive through there again! You know I blame the people who vote these @ssholes in. I blame the people of Waldo for not helping fellow Americans who get railed in the @ss by those flaming @sswhole cops. We should get the names of those @sswhole cops and return the favor when their families travel through our town. All I can say for sure is I have seen it 1000 times what comes around goes around! They will get what is coming to them. I hope they pay with a high interest rate hooked on. They better never need our help. They better never need my services because I hope they can hold there breath a really long time! I only hope some day I get the chance to see them in need, I really do, because knowing they have deep pockets off the backs of people caught in their trap I plan on making them dig really deep. Or telling them to kiss my … Damn they pissed me off.

  46. Jason E. Says:

    As a native Floridian, born and raised in Tampa, and having relatives in Alabama and Georgia, as a young man I made many trips through this corriodor of Hwy 301 and was very familiar with the legendary ticking status of the towns mentioned here. Whenever I traveled this route I was extremely careful to maintain the speed limit. Around 2004 I made a move to Pennsylvania and on a return trip to Tampa in 2005/2006 I became a victim of Waldo receiving a ticket for doing 65 in a 45. I was monitoring my speed closely as always and am 100% sure I was not speeding. Because I was living out of state at the time it wasn’t convienient for me to fight the ticket by returning for a hearing and the word on the street was that the corruption extended to the courts who were upholding the tickets anyway. Needless to say I paid the ticket and it continued to be a sore spot for me for years, even posing a potential problem with some of my future employments which looked negatively on a speeding infraction on my driving record. As a caviat to this tale I’m now a veteran police officer in the state of Pennsylvania. I still travel to Florida often and use this route on occassion but will never stop and patronize any of the businesses on this route to this date. Sad to see that little has changed. I believe now as I did then that the only way this situation will change is for a law to be passed which limits the percentage of revenue a city can receive from such citations as by any standard the percentage in these towns is inordinately high and can only serve to encourage such corrupt behavior. Its sad and truly does give law enforcement a bad name. I have deep respect for officers in my proffession, and through out the state of Florida, and certaintly understand the need for traffic enforcement having written my share of citations over the years, but I have nothing but disdain for crooked cops and politicians. For those of you contemplating travelling this route just be aware that you may be cited even if you did no wrong and for those of you who have been unjustly cited know that you are not alone. Most of all be safe out there where ever you travel….

    • didaniel Says:

      Thanks for your insight, Jason. I totally agree that unless some law is enacted that a town has to limit what percentage of income it takes from traffic tickets, it will forever be viewed as a corrupt speed trap. Although I realize you believe you weren’t speeding, there’s a chance that you speed up a few seconds too early or slowed down a few seconds too late. It’s these hairline infractions that they’re famous for getting people on. I’ll be driving there on Wednesday and will, as usual, be hypervigilant, but I always fear that I’ll slip up! I’m always amazed at how many people pass me — if they don’t know aobut the traps, they’ll find out the hard way. And if they do, well, they either have a secret exemption or they’re tempting fate!

  47. Pep Says:

    Went from JAX to Gainesville for UF-Bowling Green game. Stopped twice for gas, etc. Both times, the guys at the store say “Whatever you do, don’t go a mile over the speed limit on 301.” I’m thinking, yeah, whatever.
    No citation for me on my roundtrip. However, you have to be kidding me. Most US HWY speed limits where towns are present go from 65-55-45-lowest…then reverse on the way out of town. These guys, especially in Waldo, have taken it to a new level. 65-60-55-45-35-30-School Zone….the signs seem endless. It’s definitely a game they are playing. And yes, I saw several motorists being stopped. I’ve always heard of “speed traps” but this one is done by pros, especially when you start looking at how the signs are all placed. A LOT of thought went into this not just to slow traffic (which is cool) but to confuse drivers and give the cops the best chance possible to catch you between signs accelerating. Everyone should drive this route once just to see it.

    • didaniel Says:

      I love the idea — new tourist attraction — driving through speed traps. I was there last week and was very, very, very careful. More so than usual after getting so many comments on this blog posting! I’ll be driving through again later this week. Fingers crossed!

      • Kathryn C Flanagan Says:

        I still really resent having the pay the fine of $244.00 for a June 2012 ticket. I had gone into the left lane to pass a military convoy, and apparently I passed the signed that changed immediately from 65 MPH to 45 MPH. When I paid the fine, as they did not want a personal check, I had to pay a service charge to pay it on my credit card. Well, I think I may just get run over on the interstates anymore, to avoid Waldo, Lawty, and Starke!!

  48. Andy Says:

    Good luck to all places on 301 I am taking 75. Hope more do the the same.40 mins more or 300 your choice.

    • didaniel Says:

      You forgot one choice, Andy — go the speed limit, or just under it. Using I-75 from I-95 is quite a bit out of the way. But, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I was there the other day, usually going under the speed limit in the trap areas. Still, a couple times I found myself a couple miles over the limit and wondering what would have happened if….

  49. My iPhone took a trip without me « Places we go, People we see Says:

    [...] NC, in a day, which is about 11 hours of driving, including the slowdowns during the notorious speed-trap zone along US 301 in Florida. I was operating on three hours sleep because my dang dogs were restless [...]

  50. angela Says:

    I have been driving since I was 17, I am now 41. I have never in my life had a ticket for anything. I have never had any mark on my driving record. I had to go to Gainesville, Fl for my Aunt’s Funeral. In Waldo I got a ticket for $194.00. The cop said I was doing 54 in a 45. The last sign I passed said 55mph.
    There was a PTCurser(#1) in front of me, I was in the left lane. There was another PTCurser(#2) behind me and the cop was behind him. Both PTCursers were burgandy- Twins. The 1st PT was going about 55mph I was pacing him. The 2nd moved into the right lane and passed me. Then the cop speed up and got right on my bumper. If he had gotten any closer he could have picked my teeth!
    As the cop got on my ass, the 2 PTCursers got side by side and made it so you couldn’t get around them. Both had Florida Plates. Mind you the cop saw the 2nd PT pass me. And yet he pulled me over and told me I was going 9 miles over the posted limit. I told him, “That PTCurser passed me so if I was speeding what was he doing?” The cop gave me the ticket anyways. I know I was in a 55mph zone. I can’t prove it. However, after he let me leave not even 10 seconds up the road there was a 45mph speed limit sign and just after that was the exit for Gainsville, Fl..To me that proves I was still in the 55mph zone, the 45mph hadn’t started yet. I can’t afford to go back down there and fight it. I live in Spring Lake, NC. And I had to ask my Step-dad for money to gown down for the Funeral. So you know I can’t afford this ticket. I am going to talk to an attorney though. There are many here in NC that will here your story for free and if they can win your case they tell you what it will cost. So I am thinking about selling some stuff on ebay, just to fight this DIRTY cop. I will gladly pay any price to beat this LIE of a ticket. And make Officer blank(he never gave his name/ and its not on the ticket) stuff it up his chocolate wiz way!

    • didaniel Says:

      I’m so sorry, Angela. That’s a terrible story! I’ve always wondered if they target out-of-towners, and your experience certainly makes me more suspicious. If you really want to fight it, I would first call AAA in Tampa, as they are the ones who paid for the billboards warning people about speed traps. Maybe they can offer some direction, if not assistance. Good luck and keep us posted!

    • Kathryn C Flanagan Says:

      Thanks for your comment-posted one in June about my ticket in Waldo of $244.00–I had gotten into the left lane to go around a military convey, and I assume, of the cop said, I was speeding. As in the word “assume”-there is an “ass” and “me” (meaning those dumbass country bumpkins who are cops in that town–hope they enjoyed my money at the doughnut shop-Looks to me like they all get plenty of them!!

  51. Dan Garrobo Says:

    Had anyone video recorded any incedent, or had any vehicle with Laser jammer gone thru that 301 stretch coz am sure they are using Laser radar that can clock your speed on the dot. Radar detectors are useless vs Laser, but laser is highly jammable. I also want to hear from people who uses gadgets to hear the other a different views. Good luck to all.

  52. efriend Says:

    Hello all just got a ticket in Hampton, FL. Has anybody gone to court in Hampton, FL and beat the ticket? How?

    Tagged me at 65 in a 55. I wasn’t speeding and my high-end radar detector never picked up a laser. I don’t think the police officer even aimed the laser at me, I think it was another truck and he pulled me over instead. What is weird is most people that post about speeding tickets in Hampton get a ticket for exacting 65mph. How can most cars be going 65mph instead of some other random number?

    • didaniel Says:

      To my knowledge, no one on this list has tried to fight the ticket. If you do, please let us know. I haven’t seen a pattern of people being ticketed at 65 mph, so not sure about that one.

      • Pat Says:

        I travel through Hampton a minimum of 6 times a week, and witness Hampton’s finest in action (Waldo’s too) quite often! One Wednesday afternoon, earlier this year, my daughter and I picked up my son from school in Starke and headed South on 301 to Gainesville. As we approached Hampton and performed the usual slow down ritual before the 55mph (Speed Trap), my son and I played our usual game of looking to see where the cop is hiding. As we reached the traffic light, we both spied Officer Friendly stopped in the Northbound left turn lane. As we headed South towards the 65mph sign, I noticed the cop make a U turn and turn on his blue light. I said to my son, “That poor sucker behind us, must have been speeding, cause here he comes” Imagine my shock when he pulled me over. He claimed that I had sped back up to 65 before I reached the 65 sign. This was a blatant lie, and from his position, and the car being behind me, there’s no way he could have gotten a clock on me! I did fight the ticket and my son accompanied me as a witness. The hearing was not held in a Court Room, but instead in the Judge’s Chamber.It was quite cozy, with the Judge, officer, and prosecutor, on one side of the table, while my son and I sat on the other side. Needless to say, they all knew each other, and basically, it was my son and my word against the officer’s word! I guess it was decided that my son and I were lying and the officer was telling the truth! The Judge did withhold adjudication of guilt, so I didn’t get any points on my license, but I did have to pay a rather hefty fine and court costs! I might add, that all speeding tickets in Hampton, seem to be exactly 10 mph over the speed limit! It’s almost as if, their radar guns were programmed that way!

      • didaniel Says:

        That’s very interesting, and a funny and sad story. Thank you for sharing. I just know that my day will come. I travel there only a few times a year, but it seems inevitable, and won’t that be ironic!

    • Dan Garrobo Says:

      Did you say your high end radar ? I would presume that youre refering to the likes of V1, 9500ix and alike, yes these radars also detect laser only if its fired upon directly, laser works differently vs Ka police radar. most commuters mount thier gadgets on the windshield. When police use laser/lidar they aim at your headlight or center grill, and since laser is very pinpoint signal, your highend V1 or Escort will never pickup that laser and let say it pickup a laser signal-you already been clocked, at this point you will able to see who’s shooting laser in front of you about 1000 feet of less, and laser can only target one car at a time. Laser, that the new breed of animal out there

  53. vigrimmett Says:

    I have just read all these posts with interest. On Monday my husband and I were travelling home to Ontario from our winter home in Dunedin. We usually don’t go thru Gainesville because there are too many lights and slow downs but unfortunately we missed out turn to go thru Citrus so were stuck and had to go that way. As we were approaching 301 we were looking to see where we had to turn and as we passed a police car it’s lights came on and pulled out behind us. I asked my husband what he did and he said he didn’t know. The officer came up to the window and asked if we knew why he pulled us over. Duh, what did he expect us to day, “yeah we were speeding thru a school zone!” Of course we said we had no idea and then he told us about the school zone. He said there was a flashing sign and cones on the road. We were both confused because didn’t recall seeing either. He gave us a “citation” for $394 for doing 31 in a 15 zone (normally a 35 zone). I told my husband to turn around and go back thru the area where the alleged offence was to have occurred. We did so and were amazed to see how obvious the cones on the road were – makes us think there is no way we could have missed it. This was around 7 PM in the morning so we are questioning whether the light came on and the cones were set up after we went thru. I am a retired police officer and believe that if someone does something wrong they should be accountable for it but in this case (especially after having read everything here) I am starting to believe that the reason we didn’t see the sign and the cones is because they were there! I will be going back to Fla in Jan so will be looking into how I can fight this ticket.

    • didaniel Says:

      Let us know if you decide to fight this. So sorry for your very expensive ticket. I’m guessing that the lights and cones were there, but you were distracted. I just traveled this corridor yesterday — not the school zone but 301 from Ocala to Baldwin on the way home to North Carolina — and I have to will myself to pay attention. Even so, I’ve been listening to the radio or talking on the phone or just daydreaming at times and realized my mind has drifted away from the speed limit changes. That is precisely what they rely on — not only people who ignore the limits but people who just plain miss them. I saw several cars pulled over yesterday and was surprised that a couple had Florida plates. So it’s not just the out-of-staters getting popped.

  54. vigrimmett Says:

    Just confirmed that the light comes on 30 mins before school starts and there is a breakfast program at the school that starts at 7 so it seems the light would have been on. The person I spoke to did not think that the cones would always be out at that time. The end result is that we are going to have to pay the ticket and contribute to the community with the highest revenue from traffic tickets in the country. The ironic part is that we do pay attention to the speed changes because they happen so quickly and so often but at this point must not have been looking above our heads for the yellow flashing light. I do not have an issue with being penalized for an infraction, but $394 is more than some fines in Canada for criminal offences. I agree that going another route is not a good option so I am going to slow right down in this area! Please tell me that there isn’t a fine for going too slow!!!

    • didaniel Says:

      Thank you for checking and for your mature response! Yes, I do think that it’s really easy to miss these things, but the fact that the tickets are so punitive is really so inhospitable and unfair.

  55. vigrimmett Says:

    One last comment: Just went online to pay the ticket and was not able to enter Ontario as an option for licence plate. So called the number provided and was told that could not use this service if I lived outside the USA. Can’t stop laughing! They want to charge everyone but don’t make it easy to make payment. Are they trying to encourage people to just not pay the ticket? Guess we are going to have to go to the bank and get a money order to send them.

  56. m brallier Says:

    I live around here so I knew about Lawtey and Waldo. I see other people discovered the town of Hampton. Just FYI people who live in those areas told me Starke is now starting to strictly enforce the 30 mph on 301. So Beware. At least the speeds do not go up and down in the blink of an eye
    I got $191 ticket for going 43 in a 30 in Hampton. Never saw the sign. Was “in town” in Hampton as I drive to various communities and houses in my work. I did notice going out of Hampton on rural mostly deserted roads where most communities have speed limits of 55 Hampton maintains the 30mph. This extends nearly to the next county. The locals tell me they get tickets too so go slow around there
    Is there a fine for going too slow? I think 30 mph at all times around 301 in North Florida is a great idea to avoid these traps

  57. Dan Garrobo Says:

    Was planning to take shortcut to 301 on 02 JAN 13 heading to Sugar Mtn Ski resort NC to save 28 minutes but decided to take I-75all the way to I-10, did save additional 10 minutes coz did not hav to drive 35mph in small towns and the hassles of encountering corrupt cops. What a shame that these town cops giving these towns bad reputation.

    • didaniel Says:

      I agree, it is a shame. I don’t think you’re always saving time, though. Depends on whether I-4 through Orlando is your alternative. If so, I stick with US 301 because I’ve been stuck into too many traffic jams around Orlando to take that chance. Plus I found the 301 drive to be really peaceful and pleasant — EXCEPT for the speed traps, of course!

  58. Dan Garrobo Says:

    Pat, it wud b very difficult to fight ticket his word vs yours. The only way to fight with evidence ic to have a videocam in the car which records with the view of cars speed dial and the road, recording has dates and time as well, this kind of evidence is hard to beat, not onlythat, you can even give it to the local news station and upload in you tube so we can see it too lol. Also you must be aware that they uses Laser – something completely undetectable even if u have a radar detector on board.

    • didaniel Says:

      I wish someone would pursue this! We can always hope…

      • Vi Grimmett Says:

        On my drive down in Jan I opted to stick to 10 and 75 rather than take the chance on 301. I’m not sure it took me any longer but it was nice to just set my cruise at a certain speed and not have to worry about the limit changing. We enjoyed the more scenic route on 301 but getting the ticket changed all that. Too bad that the people who work in that corrider are going to lose the business because more and more people are going to stay away.

      • didaniel Says:

        Not sure what I do if I get a ticket. I might feel the same way. YOu’re lucky you weren’t stuck in a traffic jam around Orlando. Those can be brutal, but not as expensive!

  59. eric Says:

    Dont you get it didaniel. these people are going i10 to I 75, not through Orlando, so they wont hit traffic on the I 4 corridor. In listening to your babble, you sound like a local yockel acting like you live in n.c.. what gives?

  60. Forget About Patent Trolls, Copyright Trolls Can Be Even Scarier | Says:

    […] I went to University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida for my undergrad degree. If you want to head north to Jacksonville, you would drive through a little town called Waldo.  There was a stoplight, an Amtrak Station, and little else in this ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ town.  What the town had going for it was this steady amount of traffic going right through the only main road in town. The town, specifically the police department, decided to turn this traffic into a revenue source and set up speed traps.  They became so notorious with these traps that Waldo and Lawtey are the only two municipalities in the US recognized by AAA as traffic traps. “The distinction comes when the municipality exceeds a certain level of its budget funded exclusively by traffic tickets. We’re not sure exactly what theirs is, but we know they’re high”, said Gregg Laskoski, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South. (http://bydianedaniel.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/the-worst-speed-traps-theyre-in-florida/) […]

  61. gkalman Says:

    By the way, Eric’s tone is not called for here. That was a not too bright way to provide what otherwise is fair criticism.

    Every time someone mentions I 10 x I 75 above, didaniel always chimes in with the Orlando traffic comment. Especially if you are going from Gainesville to Jacksonville and staying on the interstates, you are not going through Orlando (or Miami, for that matter).

    Nonetheless, in a discussion forum where a known speed trap is discussed, alternative routes should be acknowledged correctly.

    • didaniel Says:

      Thanks. You’re right! I should have been clearer. I’m of course focusing on ME and MY trips. ;) (It is my blog after all.) My trip is from NC to Tampa Bay. Many people drive from northern US to Fla. Gulf Coast. In that case, they do in fact need to cross the state at some point, and the choices are either Speed Trap Alley for I-4. So that is why I keep mentioning I-4, which does go through Orlando. But, you are correct that I-10 does not. Thanks for the clarification!

      • didaniel Says:

        I went through the corridor twice in past week and went a tad over the limit, I admit, as everyone else was, and I was thinking how stupid I was! And, in retrospect, lucky.

  62. Susan Says:

    There is another way. Google Maps can help.

    I’ve lived In Ocala for 11 years. I know this area like the back of my hand, and no one goes up and down 301 from Gainesville to Jacksonville if they can help it.

    When I go to Jacksonville, I go thru the Ocala National Forest heading towards Palatka and pick up 17. If you take this route heading south, you can pick up 301 just south of Ocala in Belleview, and the drive south towards Tampa will be pleasant and uneventful.

    I worked in Palatka for a year and this route has good roads and is very consistent with speeds. Yes, you have to do the speed limit, and there are places where you have to slow down, but it’s not insane like 301.

    My daughter went to UF and when she went to Jacksonville, she took 121 through Lake Butler, towards Maclenny, hooking up with I-10.

    I’ll never spend a dollar along the north Florida 301 corridor. Waldo and Lawtey have sealed the deal for their town and every one else’s. Vote with your wallet, folks. And I’m sorry for those that got nailed.

    • didaniel Says:

      Thanks for that, Susan. I can see how that would work well from Jax, but coming from I-95 north, it wouldn’t make sense for me. I’m often traveling between NC and Tampa area, and I go from 95 to 295 to 10 to 301, bypassing Jax. I still think 301 is the quickest and less trafficky route. If I’m ever popped, I might change my mind. I do hate the speed traps on many levels, but in the end they’re slowing me down maybe five minutes total. So I suffer, but not in silence.

  63. SLOWING TRAFFIC TO A TARGET SPEED: How To Make Our Streets Safer | Steve Miller's Blog Says:

    […] fine would cancel the necessity of returning for a future court appearance.  (There are still some “speed trap towns” , mostly in the rural South and in […]

  64. Linda Spies Says:

    I was at a stop light in Waldo with an elderly dog in the backseat who would stand at every stoplight. As I slowly accelerated in the left lane, a police car with light flashing came up behind me. I pulled right and so did he. I pulled over and was told I was doing 54 approaching the light. Impossible, with this elderly dog to be considered when I slowed and accelerated. The lying sack of —- gave me a ticket for $175 which I paid since I wasn’t driving back to be heard by one of their judges. Insurance company said rates wouldn’t be affected since they were known in that area for unlawful
    enforcement. Too bad they destroyed so many businesses that depended on the tourist passing through.

    • didaniel Says:

      Thanks for sharing that, Linda. I think you made a wise choice, especially since I’m pretty sure elderly dog reasoning won’t hold up in court. ;) Though nothing much seems to hold up there. I found it very interesting that your insurance company gives you grace because of Waldo’s reputation. I sure wish someone would do something about all this.

  65. Leslie Says:

    Well, didaniel, it seems you are about to get your wish, at least about Hampton. Did you see the news about it last weekend? Apparently the entire government there are being exposed as crooks.

  66. Ray Says:

    Having a NC license and got th ticket for driving 59 in 45 zone. I know I was not driving because me and my cousin (in another car) were aware of he speed traps and was right on the speed limit.
    The cop was not willing to hear me out.
    What are my options. Penalty amount is $191!

    • didaniel Says:

      Sadly, your only option is going to court and most people find it’s not “worth it.” But if you do fight it, let us know!

      • Ray Says:

        It is not worth fighting as discussed in previous comments.
        So do I just pay the fine online. DO I need to take the classes?
        Will this effect my driving record in NC?

      • didaniel Says:

        I don’t think you need to take classes, unless there’s something I don’t know about. Yes, a speeding ticket (or any moving violation) has the possibility of affecting your driving record and insurance rates, anywhere in the US. I would call your insurance provider and see if they have suggestions. I’m not sure how Florida works, but I”ve been able to lessen speeding charges in NC and Utah by hiring an attorney (not expensive). But you have to work with an attorney in the county of the infraction. Good luck!

  67. Dana Greyson Says:

    I’m going to protest my citation by letter (as I’m not local) – hoping for at least reduction in the $244 fee. Requires a notarized letter a prepayment for the full amount of the fine before the decision. I don’t plan to pay an attorney or the national motorists or the AAA. Anyone out there have any experience with that?

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