Thomas Garrett (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis) and Gary Wagner (University of Arkansas) ask, "Are Traffic Tickets Countercyclical?" Here is the abstract:
There is anecdotal evidence that local governments use traffic tickets to generate revenue. Using panel data for North Carolina counties, we examine whether changes in local government revenue influence the number of traffic tickets issued. We find strong evidence of an asymmetric response by local governments. Specifically, positive changes in revenue have no effect on traffic tickets, but negative revenue changes increase the number of traffic tickets issued. A one percentage point decrease in revenue yields a 0.38 percentage point increase in traffic tickets. We calculate that traffic ticket revenue supplements a low percentage of local revenue losses.