Pandemic results in fewer drivers, less tickets, hurting NC’s bottom line

North Carolina news

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The NC State Highway Patrol reports fewer people are on the road since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

It means fewer tickets being handed out, which hurts North Carolina’s bottom line.

“All the sudden, one day, cars weren’t on the road,” First Sergeant Christopher Knox said. “People were at home.”

In 2020, state troopers issued 60,000 fewer tickets, or a 20 percent decrease than in years past.

Knox said state troopers issue citations to help prevent crashes and save people’s lives, but it all adds up.

“From a couple hundred-dollar citation to a mandatory court appearance where someone would have to show up,” he said. “That would mainly be related to the speed at which they were going.”

The anticipated millions in fees and fines would go back into the community where the driver broke the law.

“A good portion of that goes back to schools,” Knox said. “A good portion of that goes back to the court system. I do believe a vast majority of those fines go back into the community.”

The difference is in North Carolina’s Judicial Branch annual reports. It shows a more than $70 million decrease in last year’s fiscal year compared to 2018-19. Court clerks distributed $629 million dollars in 2019-20 and $702.9 million in 2018-19. These funds were distributed to the state general fund and local governments.

Federal dollars from the CARES Act and the most recent COVID-19 relief passed in December is filling in the gaps until state lawmakers evaluate the total losses and pass a state budget.

A representative from House Speaker Tim Moore’s office said there’s enough money to help state agencies and schools until a budget is passed.

Knox said no matter what happens, state troopers will focus on the roads.

“We’re still out there,” he said. “We’re still doing everything we can to save lives.”

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