The evidence is anecdotal but compelling. In some cases, it would seem law enforcement officers are given a quota they must meet for issuing tickets. One Republican legislator recalled his days as a police officer when he was forced to write three tickets a day. Other citizens have shared stories of officers admitting to being under the gun to issue tickets.

That is why HB264 was concocted. The bill, in simple language, would prohibit police agencies from telling their officers to pen a set number of tickets. It's pretty straight forward. But what has been interesting is the number of complaints about it. If, as some claim, there are no quotas, then why the objections? Are they afraid lawmakers could use up too much ink? Do they fret about sending "the wrong message"? What's the beef?

If there are no ticket quotas now, ban them outright so there won't be in the future. It's more than trying to "solve a problem that doesn't exist." A problem does exist. And the problem is public trust and perception. Codify the ban, put it on the books and set it in concrete so that citizens don't feel they're getting the old run-around.

If inspectors were expected to meet quotas (say, three a day) for the number of restaurant violations or building code violations they were expected to write, there would be a fuss. That would become inventing violations that don't exist. But traffic is a different animal.

In fact, what the legislation inadvertently exposes is just how many people in Utah willfully violate traffic laws. No one is saying there aren't many violations. They are saying some of those shouldn't be pursued. The recklessness on Utah's roads could be called a dirty little secret, but it's not little or a secret. Something about being behind the wheel makes people believe they are a law unto themselves. Until that problem is understood and dealt with in better fashion, talk about quotas will take a back seat to the truth: Utahns — and residents of other states — quickly go from "law abiding" to "scofflaws" with the click of an ignition switch.