Fact Check

About Those 'Speeding Ticket Frenzy' Alerts

Are state police about to launch a 30-day speeding ticket blitz?

Published Jul 24, 2013

Updated Sep 14, 2022
Young woman pulled over by police officer on the road. (Getty Images/Stock photo)
Young woman pulled over by police officer on the road. (Image Via Getty Images/Stock photo)
Claim:
Police in some U.S. state are about to launch a 30-day speeding ticket frenzy (aka "Operation Yellowjacket").

Fact Check

We first encountered the following warning about a supposed 30-day state police "speeding ticket frenzy" employing unmarked patrol cars in mid-May 2005, when it came to us as an e-mail purporting to detail information gleaned from "a State trooper in south Jersey." At that time the crackdown was said to be scheduled to begin throughout the state of New Jersey on Monday, May 2, 2005:

New Jersey will launch a 30-day speeding ticket frenzy. The state estimates that 9 million dollars will be generated in speeding tickets. 1 million will go to pay state troopers overtime. There will be 50 state troopers on duty at all times patrolling the 9 main intersections and highways.

They are the following:
I-295 north and south
1-95 (Jersey Turnpike) north and south
1-80 east and west
I-287 north and south
I-78 east and west
I-195 east and west
1-280 east and west
Rt. 130 north and south
Garden State Parkway north and south

Now 5 mph above the limit can justify a ticket and every state trooper is supposed to pull a car over and write a ticket every 10 minutes. They have issued 30 brand new unmarked Crown Victoria cruisers and they are bringing all their part timers on full time. If you work in New Jersey, New York, or CT, you must take one of there interstates, routes, or parkways. It's up to you how fast you are doing when they do. I was told 101.5 FM confirmed all of this.

So be safe and don't forget speeding tickets are on you.

You've been warned.

No news outlets reported a 30-day round-up of speeders in New Jersey in May 2005. New Jersey state troopers were issuing considerably more speeding tickets immediately after March 2005 than they had been previously, but that increase was the result of the state's hiring additional officers, not the product of a short-term effort to raise revenue, according to a July 20 report in the Star-Ledger:

The number of summonses issued between March and May [2005] — a total of 45,930 on the two toll roads — is 52 percent higher than the previous three months. The jump in tickets is about 49 percent when compared with the same March-through-May stretch of 2004.

Officials say motorists should get accustomed to tougher enforcement on the two highways. The surge in summonses stems from the hiring of an extra 66 troopers for the Parkway and Turnpike over the past year, not from a short-term ticket blitz, police and highway officials said.

For the first time in several years, the police forces on the toll highways are near what officials consider optimal levels — 206 troopers on the Parkway and 225 on the Turnpike.

Nonetheless, this same basic warning has been recirculated on the Internet every year since then, sometimes multiple times per year, in versions listing different states and different dates (see more examples below). These repetitions all follow a pattern of announcing a "30-day speeding ticket frenzy" (often said to be called "Operation Yellowjacket"), naming the state (or city/county) in which it will take place, listing a date on which the "frenzy" will supposedly commence, and identifying particular motorways which will allegedly be a focus of traffic enforcers.

Although state troopers will sometimes engage in traffic enforcement details (lasting from a few hours to a few days) which involve extra patrols on targeted highways, we have yet to encounter any case in which one of the unannounced, statewide "30-day speeding ticket frenzies" warned about in email forwards and social media posts actually took place.

When states do engage in multi-agency efforts to combat drunk and speeding drivers, such as the H.E.A.T. (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) program or the I-80 Challenge Highway Safety Initiative, those efforts are typically publicly announced in advance, since two major components of traffic safety programs are motorist awareness of police presence and driver education, and neither of those aspects is facilitated through a "secret" police crackdown.

Variations

In July 2005, the suspect New Jersey warning was modified into one about a particular region in Tennessee:

We received this from a friend who got it from a man that he teaches Sunday school with that works at the Bristol police department. Just thought I would pass it on.

Tri-Cities will launch a 30-day speeding ticket frenzy on July 31 2005. The state of Tennessee estimates that 9 million dollars will be generated in speeding tickets. 1 million will go to pay state troopers overtime. There will be 57 state troopers on duty at all times patrolling.

They are the following:
I-81 north and south
1-26 north and south
1-40 east and west

Now 5 mph above the limit can justify a ticket and every state trooper is supposed to pull a car over and write a ticket every 10 minutes. They have issued 30 brand new unmarked Crown Victoria cruisers and they are bringing all their part timers on full time. I was told 101.5 FM confirmed all of this.

So be safe and don't forget speeding tickets are on you.

You've been warned.

 At the end of 2005, the same warning was modified yet again to refer to Orange County in southern California:

Orange County traffic tickets

For those of us who like to drive fast…..

California Highway Patrol will launch a 30-day speeding ticket frenzy in South Orange County starting January 25, 2006. The state estimates that 22 million dollars will be generated in speeding tickets. 3 million will go to pay California Highway Patrol officer overtime. There will be 90 California Highway Patrol officers on duty at all times patrolling the

7 freeways. They are the following: 73, 55, 133, 241, 57, 5, 605 freeways

Now 7 mph above the limit can justify a ticket and every California Highway Patrol officers is supposed to pull a car over and write a ticket every 10 minutes. They have issued 50 brand new unmarked Crown Victoria cruisers and they are bringing all their part timers on full time. If you live or work in South Orange County you must take one of their freeways. It's up to you how fast you are doing when they do. This is a test by the CHP to raise the extra funds for the State of California. The wealthy folks of South Orange County can afford this new tax. The California State Legislators dreamed up this law to help close the budget gap or something like that. I was told KICU-FM confirmed all of this. So be safe and don't forget speeding tickets are on you.

You've been warned.

 In January 2006 alone, similarly-worded fake warnings targeted residents of Texas, Michigan, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania.

Two years later, in 2008, we find the warning circulating among residents of Louisville, Kentucky:

Heads Up, In February, We will launch a 30-day speeding ticket frenzy.

The city estimates that 9 million dollars will be generated in speeding tickets. 1 million will go to pay Mero Police overtime.

There will be 50 Metro Traffic Officers on duty 24/7 patrolling the following highways AND MORE!

I-65 North and South
I-64 From Shelbyville Rd. to Portland Av
Preston Highway to city limits

Now, 5 mph above the limit can justify a ticket, and every Traffic officer is supposed to pull a car over and write a ticket every 10 minutes. They have issued 30 brand new unmarked Crown Victoria cruisers and they are bringing all their part timers on full time.

In mid-April 2008, a similar warning was issued about Portland, Oregon:

Alert to Portland drivers!

Portland will launch a 21 day speeding Frenzy! The state of Oregon estimates there will be 9 million made in speeding tickets. 1 million dollars will go to paying troopers overtime. There will be 40 OSP troopers and local police officers on duty at all times patrolling these areas.

I-5 North and south from Woodburn to Delta park
I 84 Eastbound and Westbound from downtown to I205
I 205 Northbound from I5 to Hwy 84*
*this is where they anticipate highest volume of tickets.
Us 26 WB and EB Sunset Hwy from the tunnel to Cornell
Hwy 217 from Washington Square to I5
Hwy 18 from Hwy99 to Grand Rhone

5mph or over can justify a ticket and state troopers are instructed to pull over anyone going 5mph over the limit. OSP has issued 15 new unmarked Crown Victoria cruisers for this 21 day period. This new ticket revenue will help close the budget crisis they are facing. This "ticket frenzy" has been confirmed by news stations in Portland.

Look out speeders!

In August 2008 this version mixing the standard "30 day speeding frenzy" canard with the actual Pennsylvania "Operation Yellow Jacket" appeared in inboxes:

Operation Yellow Jacket - Speeding Tickets
Operation Yellow Jacket

Look out for Penn dot trucks parked along the road or appearing behind you pacing you, it could be a Trooper driving the truck, it is called 'Operation Yellow Jacket' and will be off and on all summer, each district has a truck cleaned up and ready to go!

Starting today, Pennsylvania will launch a 30 day speeding ticket frenzy. The state estimates that 9 million dollars will be generated in speeding tickets. 1 million will go to pay state troopers overtime. There will be 50 state troopers on duty at all times patrolling the 9 main intersections and highways.

They are the following:

Rte. 1 north and south
PA-220
I-99 north and south
I-95 north and south
I-279 north and south
I-276 east and west
I-376 east and west
I-76 east and west
I-80 east and west
I-79 north and south
I-70 east and west
PA-60
PA-66
US-22 & 322

5 mph above the limit can justify a ticket and every state trooper is supposed to pull a car over and write a ticket every 10 to 20 minutes. They have issued 30 brand new unmarked Dodge Charger Police cruisers and are bringing in all of their part timers on full time.

Driving Ticket fine increase in PA:
Starting on August 15th, the price of a ticket for violation of PA Law 39:3-29 (failure to show your driver's license, registration, or insurance card at the time you are stopped) is going from $44.00 to $173.00. Please make sure your vehicles have the proper documents in them. If you jump in the car to run to the store and forget your wallet with your license in it and you are stopped…. Oh well… you just spent $173. And the fine for not having all three documents is $519!!!

https://www.dot.state.pa.us

 

And in March 2009, the Pennsylvania "Operation Yellow Jacket" version was relocated to Michigan:

Look out for MI-DOT trucks parked along the road or suddenly appearing behind you pacing you - it could be a Trooper driving the truck.

Called 'Operation Yellow Jacket', each Michigan State Police District has a truck cleaned up and ready to go! These trucks have specially-modified engines that can virtually catapult the truck from snow-plow speed to intercept speed in seconds. And when the engine boost kicks in, the warning lights automatically change from flashing yellow to the dreaded red and blue!

Starting March 1, 2009, Michigan will launch a 31 day speeding ticket frenzy. The state estimates that $9 million dollars will be generated in speeding tickets, with an additional $3.5 million in revenue for failure
to wear a seatbelt. $1 million will go to pay state troopers overtime. There will be 47 state troopers on duty at all times patrolling the main intersections and highways with the highest rates of speeding. They are the following:

I-75, especially from the Ohio line north to Woodhaven, and again from Auburn Hills to Flint.
I-96 east and west in its entirety
I-275 north and south
I-675 north and south
I-94 east and west from Battle Creek to Jackson
I-696 east and west in its entirety
I-196 east and west
US-131 north and south
I-69 east and west from Lansing to Flint and again from Flint eastward to Port Huron.
I-69 north and south from I-94 to Lansing
M-14 east and west from I-94 to I-275
M-39 from I-94 to I-96
M-59, especially from Pontiac to Utica , and from Utica east to I-94
US-10 from Midland to Bay City
US-23 from I-96 to Flint
US-27 from Lansing to Mt. Pleasant

Quotas:
5 mph above the limit can justify a ticket and every state trooper is supposed to pull a car over and write a ticket every 10 to 20 minutes. They have issued 30 brand new unmarked Dodge Charger Police cruisers and
canceled all vacation time. In addition, they are bringing in all of their part timers on full time for the month. This nonsense will conclude on April 1.

Driving Ticket fine increase in MI:
Starting on January 15th, the price of a ticket for violation of MI Law 39:3-29 (failure to show your driver's license, registration, or proof of insurance card at the time you are stopped) went from $44.00 to $173.00. Please make sure your vehicles have the proper documents in them. If you jump in the car to run to the store and forget your wallet with your license in it and you are stopped…. Oh well… you just spent $173. And the fine for not having all three documents is $519!!!"

 The state of Michigan put a disclaimer on its web site noting that no such operation was being undertaken by Michigan State Police:

March 2, 2009 - Michigan's 'Operation Yellow Jacket' is a Hoax
Contact: Shanon Akans, Public Affairs, (517) 336-6364
Agency: State Police

The Michigan State Police (MSP) wants citizens to know that a widely distributed e-mail message about a "31-day speeding ticket frenzy" in Michigan titled "Operation Yellow Jacket" is completely false. There is no such effort underway at this time, or any time in the future, to generate revenue through the issuance of traffic citations. Citizens should regard the "Operation Yellow Jacket" warning as nothing more than an urban legend.

As a reminder, MSP traffic enforcement initiatives always involve a uniformed officer in a marked patrol vehicle.

Versions of this e-mail have been circulating in cyberspace for a few years. The recent addition of Operation Yellow Jacket comes from a work-zone safety enforcement effort conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police. Several other states including California, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have also been targeted in this hoax.

These alerts have continued to appear with regularity ever since, though more recently the main vectors of the hoax have been social media accounts, not forwarded emails. As recently as 2020, the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security notified residents of the state that such alerts are false and should be ignored:


Sources:

Malinconico, Joe. "Toll-Road Troopers Have Just the Ticket."
[New Jersey] Star-Ledger. 20 July 2005.

The Associated Press. "Report: NJ Had Lowest Proportion of Speeding Crashes."
15 June 2005.

Updates

Update [Sept. 14, 2022]: Added August 2020 statement from NJ Homeland Security.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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