The Lawtey Police Department is a small police department located within Bradford County, Florida located on Highway 301. According to statistics from the Florida Department of Transportation, over 17,000 vehicles pass through Lawtey daily. It is not uncommon for people to take Highway 301 as they are leaving or returning to Florida, as it is a “cut through” from Interstate 75 to Interstate 10. With, Highway 301 has had a long reputation as being a speed trap, with local police departments running aggressive speed enforcement campaigns. At one point there were three different police agencies on that small stretch of 301 running aggressive speed traps, including the Waldo, Lawtey, and Hampton police departments.
Starting in 1995, the American Automobile Association labeled Waldo and Lawtey a traffic trap. That means that AAA determined that speeding tickets were only being issued to motorists as a revenue generator for the cities and not for safety reasons. It was estimated that over half of Waldo’s 1 million police budget came from speeding fines. These speed traps were so prolific that AAA actually paid to advertise warnings to motorists on billboards with language such as “speed trap 5 miles ahead”. The Waldo police department was disbanded in 2014 following an investigation into an illegal ticket quota that was being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Hampton Police Department was also disbanded in 2014 after it was discovered that many of its officers were not trained properly and the city’s finances were in state of disarray.
That leaves the Lawtey Police Department as the only main police department on that tiny stretch of highway 301. In 2018 Lawtey mayor Jimmie Scott and police chief Shane Bennett requested that AAA remove its over 23-year designation as Florida’s worst speed trap. It was the intention of the mayor and elected officials to show the community and outsiders that Lawtey is a place with nice people and a great place to do business. The AAA club met with Chief Bennett and after considering the number of warnings issued to motorists as well as police budget analysis, they decided to lift the city’s status as a speed trap.
Make no mistake about it, the removal of its “Speed trap” status has not stopped the Lawtey Police Department from issuing speeding citations to motorists. The department continues to issue almost 5,000 speeding tickets annually. Interestingly, over 50% of people just pay their tickets outright thereby putting points on their driver’s license and potentially raising their car insurance for years. Florida is part of an interstate driver license compact and typically all the states share information about speeding tickets. That means that if you receive a speeding ticket in Bradford County and you just pay the citation, that reports as a conviction and is a pointable offense. It you are licensed in a jurisdiction that is part of the driver license interstate compact you must be aware of the consequences of just paying a citation.
If you have a commercial license and you receive a ticket from the Lawtey police department you need to really understand the position you are in if you receive a speeding ticket. Several years ago, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles changed the way it reports the disposition of speeding tickets on commercial driver licenses. Unless the ticket is dismissed or amended to a non-moving violation the ticket will be reported as a conviction for Federal purposes only and potentially no points in Florida. That is VERY important because that type of designation will result in a conviction and points on your license for every commercial driver licensed from any state.
If you have received a speeding ticket in Bradford County by the Lawtey Police Department, please feel free to call us at 866-985-7740.
As of 2020, the department has 9 officers that typically issue speeding tickets. In 2019 the department issued 4,831 moving violations