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Operation Yellow Jacket - Speeding Ticket Frenzy Hoax

Summary:
Email warns motorists in Michigan about a "31 day speeding ticket frenzy" called "Operation Yellow Jacket" in which troopers will drive MI-DOT trucks as well as unmarked police cruisers in order to nab as many speeders as possible (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, March 2009)
Subject: Operation Yellow Jacket

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
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!!!



Commentary:

©iStockphoto.com/David Birkbeck

Speeding Car
An email claiming that police in Michigan are launching a "speeding ticket frenzy" is a hoax
This email warns motorists in the American state of Michigan that state police are running a "31 day speeding ticket frenzy" called 'Operation Yellow Jacket' during March 2009. According to the message, Michigan State Police will use specially modified MI-DOT trucks as well as new unmarked police cruisers to nab motorists.

However, Michigan State Police have dismissed the message as a hoax in a statement published on the Michigan Government website:
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.
The message is in fact just a recycled version of a hoax email that has circulated for several years and targeted a number of other states including California, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Earlier versions of the hoax omitted references to "Operation Yellow Jacket" and the use of modified trucks. The following example of a 2005 version of the hoax reveals that the current Michigan version is no more than an updated mutation of earlier hoaxes:
New Jersey will launch a 30 day speeding ticket frenzy from July 1 through the 30th.

The state estimates that 9 million dollars will be generated in speeding tickets. 1 million will go to pay state troopers over time. There will be 50 state troopers on duty at all times patrolling the 9 main intersections and highways.

Warning for everyone: 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 in 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. So be safe and don't forget speeding tickets are on you.
While the Michigan email is certainly a hoax, it should be noted that elements of the message are derived from actual events. In 2007, police in Pennsylvania, operated radar guns from PennDOT trucks in order to catch motorists speeding in construction zones. This program was called "Operation Yellow Jacket". Similar programs of the same name have operated in other US states. Thus it seems that, in this version of the "warning" email, information about genuine "Operation Yellow Jacket" programs has been mingled with false information about an upcoming "speeding ticket frenzy" and the supposed operation has been moved to Michigan.



References:
March 2, 2009 - Michigan's 'Operation Yellow Jacket' is a Hoax
Pennsylvania Steps Up Sneaky Speed Traps
Fact Finder: Operation Yellow Jacket Hoax

Last updated: 6th March 2009
First published: 6th March 2009

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen

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