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Can Homeowners Get A Traffic Ticket In An HOA?

Is someone citing you a traffic ticket in HOA roads? Perfectly above board, according to the Illinois supreme court. So if you’re in the state of Illinois, you can get speeding tickets in HOA neighborhoods.

When it comes to HOA traffic fines, can other HOAs in other states levy traffic violation fines as well? It’s not just when can HOA issue traffic tickets – it’s also about what constitutes speeding in an HOA, and who gets to define it.

Traffic Ticket in HOA: Many Sides to the Debate

People seem to be in such a hurry nowadays, but at what cost to those around you? We repeatedly see unfortunate accidents on the news. But many of us also fail to change our driving habits. Too many drivers think that a traffic accident will not happen to them or a loved one. Some may even have the mistaken notion that an HOA community has less need for stringent traffic rules.

However, reality can’t be more different. Speeding, as well as other traffic violations, is a frequent issue throughout many communities. Thus, many communities will put speed limit signs. This is an attempt to quell this, and for a while it may, to a certain extent, curb violations. On the other hand, there are still those that will continue to violate traffic norms in an HOA. Thus, it makes little difference to them whether speed limit signs are posted or not.

Options Available to HOAs

Shoes and arrows pointing in different directions on asphalt floor | hoa traffic finesWhat can the community do to stop this?

Well, like many of the questions discussed in these blogs, it will come down to a couple of factors primarily dealing with your governing documents (assuming your community streets are private, if they are public then you will want to stay on top of the local authorities regarding whichever issue it may be).

Very few associations will have anything in them regarding traffic violations in any specificity.

Certainly, not too many HOAs will have provisions for issuing HOA traffic fines, let alone citing drivers with speeding tickets in HOA properties.

However, this is where the nuisance clause (common in most associations governing documents) comes in as the “catch-all”. If people are speeding throughout the community and rolling through stop signs, this poses a threat to the people in the community. This could certainly be considered a nuisance to anyone on the outside looking in.

The association can then go through their normal violation policy with the residents. Many of these policies can eventually lead to fines. This wouldn’t be a “ticket” in the police sense, but the financial consequences may be enough to sway the homeowners into slowing down.

Poris Versus Lake Holiday Property Owners Association

One unfortunate homeowner set a precedent when it comes to HOAs issuing traffic tickets. Long story short, Mr. Kenneth Poris was detained by private security officers. This was in 2008 when Lake Holiday in LaSalle County, Illinois had set a speed limit of 25 miles per hour.

Mr. Poris was allegedly clocked going way over that – 34 miles per hour, and he was pulled over.  After debate, the association offices ended up issuing the resident a speeding citation.

Should the association’s privately hired officers be able to exercise police powers? At the end of the trial, the court decided in favor of the association. The reasoning behind it is based on what they consider to be a reasonable exercise of the HOA’s rules. Thus, since Mr. Poris agreed to follow those rules, and the court found them reasonable in this context, the citation stands.

Divided Opinion Between HOA Experts

Businessman putting a card with text Ask the Expert in the pocket | hoa traffic finesOn one hand, you have HOA experts who are concerned with the role that private security officers play in this.

To issue a speeding ticket in HOA roads, the driver needs to be pulled over. In most cases, this is simply a matter of signaling to the driver, and the driver then cooperating accordingly.

However, in some cases, a private security officer may not have the right training to apprehend a moving vehicle. Is it appropriate to expect security vendors to do that kind of work on behalf of the HOA? Will they be covered with the proper regulations when it comes to detaining drivers? That’s the sort of issue that can also lead to a possible violation of the driver’s rights.

Not only that, but the HOA also opens itself to possible lawsuits for unlawful arrest. Plus, there’s also the question of evidence and documentation. How should an HOA’s security officers prove that the driver was speeding?

The Need for HOAs to Police Their Community

However, other experts can see how getting a traffic ticket in HOA makes sense. In the case of the Poris decision, the court did base its decision on a policy of non-interference. That is, the court will generally refrain from meddling into the internal actions of associations.

So if a member enters a private agreement with the HOA board, and it comes to the point that traffic citations are issued, the Illinois court will, in general, “not interfere with the internal affairs of a voluntary association absent mistake, fraud, collusion or arbitrariness.”

Alternatives to Issuing a Traffic Ticket in HOA Neighborhoods

Ultimately, both HOA managers and HOA members are concerned with where the line gets drawn. Does it stop at traffic fines, or will it escalate to apprehension and detainment? Will the issue of searches come up in this debate? In any case, an HOA will need to be careful not to overstep their boundaries with the law enforcement agencies in their area.

Fortunately, there are still other ways to keep traffic violations to a minimum. Plus, they don’t have to involve issuing a traffic ticket in HOA communities, as well. Before resorting to using police powers, HOAs can try a few ideas to make their neighborhood safer.

Things like speed bumps, signs, and speed indicators can go a long way towards guiding drivers towards a safer commute home. It also helps to remind HOA members that road safety is a community responsibility and that they have an important role in it as well.

 

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