About ten years ago, the law in the State of Massachusetts was changed so that townships could keep half of the money that they received from motor vehicle infractions.  Prior to this time all collected money was sent to the State and then redistributed back to the towns.  This change in the law has been a disaster.  Small towns have grown huge police forces for the purpose of collecting this money.  Below find a letter that I have sent to Ellen Story, State Representative for Amherst, regarding this matter.  I have also sent a copy of this letter to this List of 196 State Representatives and Massachusetts Senators regarding this matter in the hope of changing back this law.

March 4, 2006

State Representative Ellen Story
Room 167
State House
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Ellen Story:

I have identified a statewide abuse that I would like to bring to your attention.  Two years ago I received a ticket in a Leverett, Massachusetts speed trap.  I fought this ticket and eventually had it dismissed.  I also fought the speed trap, and succeeded in having warning signs installed on State Highway 63 to reduce this threat to motorists.  I was successful in raising community awareness of this hazard through the construction of the website, http://www.leverettspeedtrap.com.  You can still visit this site to review the thoroughness of my research.

Last November I received a parking ticket here in Amherst, and I immediately recognized this as another example of motor vehicle laws being used for the purpose of fundraising.  In response to this abuse I have built another web site, http://www.amherstparkingtrap.com.  Talking with others about my success in Leverett, and my current research here in Amherst, I have been told that there is also a speed trap in Sunderland, and another in Shutesbury.  I have also been told that the police in Pelham ticket drivers for dirty license plates, and in Belchertown officers tailgate motorists down a long, winding stretch of road and ticket them for out of lane violations.  Amherst and every surrounding town are abusing motor vehicle laws for financial gain.  And this may extend to every town in Massachusetts.  My life is too short to build all of the necessary community action websites.

These towns are using motor vehicle fines as a form of hidden taxation.  As an example of this, in 2005 the Town of Amherst had a stated goal of raising an additional $200,000.00 by doubling parking fines.  You can read the documentation of this on my web site.  And I suspect that similar decisions are being made in every city and town across the state.  It is not the intent of these regulatory laws to be used for fundraising.  At one time, I understand that all money from motor vehicle infractions was collected in a single state fund and then redistributed to the townships as appropriate.  Now that the towns are allowed to keep fifty percent of their collected fines, there is too much incentive for them to supplement town revenue at the expense of motorists.  This system isn’t working.  Small towns now have huge police forces just for the purpose of collecting this money.  I am in favor of decentralized government, but these small towns have demonstrated that they cannot govern themselves.  In time, I fear it will only be safe to travel the roads by bicycle.  I need your help to correct these problems.

We need state law changed to end this exploitation.  I am willing to drive to Boston — at my own risk of being ticketed — to discuss this matter with you.  I would also be willing to meet with you at any time that is convenient here in Western Massachusetts.  Let’s do what’s necessary to end these abuses.


Philip Garrow

Enclosed find a table of increased Amherst parking rates effective August 2005.