Harpersville speed trap

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The Harpersville speed trap was a notorious speed trap located on U. S. Highway 280 (the "Florida Shot Route") in the vicinity of Harpersville in the early 1950s.

The re-routing of Shelby County Highway 91 into town in the late 1940s, where U.S. Highway 231 and Alabama State Highway 25 already crossed, formed a giant intersection, a broad empty area of two acres, governed by a stop sign. Patrolmen found it overwhelming to enforce local traffic codes in the face of an influx of motorists traveling between Chicago and Tampa, Florida.

In 1952 the speed limit in the Town of Harpersville was still set at 25 miles per hour. G. C. Looney, chief of police for neighboring Vincent, arrested motorist J. B. McCord of Lineville and accepted a $10 cash payment as an appearance bond on the spot. The Alabama Motorists Association began an investigation and charged that many officers in the area had been pulling over speeders and taking cash payments as bonds to avoid court appearances. The Alabama Department of Examiners for Public Accounts followed up with an audit of records for Justice of the Peace J. S. Newman.

After being presented with the evidence and charges, Harpersville mayor J. W. Donahoo ordered the speed limit raised to 40 miles per hour and instructed his town's lone police officer, Gordie Whitfield, not to accept cash bonds. The AMA promised to provide legal representation to any motorist asked to pay cash to an officer of the law after being pulled over.

The Harpersville area is still regarded as a speed trap for motorists on Highway 280.

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