Well this is complete garbage. I received a citation by mail the other day with a picture of my truck stating that I had been speeding in a school zone in Tallulah Falls, Georgia on September 14, 2022. Now this is odd as I don’t usually speed, but that is a picture of my truck. So I go look it up on Google Maps and guess what. That’s State Road 441 through Tallulah Falls with a 55 mph speed limit and they clocked me at 57. Now here is the trick. Because there is a Middle School adjacent to a high speed road, they just slapped the camera system on there as a speed trap. I have no problem with school speed zones and I have zero issue if there are busses coming and going and the flashing lights are activated, but this is a pure, old-fashioned speed trap designed for revenue. Here is how you know. If I am in a school zone, the lights ought to be flashing to put me on notice that a 55 mph state road is all of a sudden dropping to 45. If I still speed, that’s on me. There were no flashing lights that day at 2:37 in the afternoon.
Now read what the police chief said to the Clayton Tribune;
“Elrod said that if for some reason the lights are not flashing during the designated hours, it might mean they need to be repaired or replaced. However, the camera will still issue citations if motorists are speeding through the designated area during the specified times. Elrod clarified the speed limit is set by the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We here at Tallulah Falls don’t set the speed limit, we just enforce it to the best of our ability,” Elrod said.” Clayton Tribune September 15
Got that? We can still ticket you even if the lights are not flashing, which they were not.
Wait you might say, I thought photo tickets were out in Georgia. Here’s the real gimmick. This is not a moving violation. It is a civil penalty that the DOT cooked up. As a civil penalty, you do not have criminal rules applying meaning all they have to show is you were speeding by a preponderance of the evidence and not beyond a reasonable doubt. See the difference. Furthermore, in the actual statute it says the school district gets $75 and then the private enforcement company gets $25. Ahh, there’s the private business angle we were looking for. For my ticket, they slapped on another $4.90 in “processing fees” to boot. Here is the full text of the DOT enabling statute.
It only gets weirder from there. As a civil penalty, they decide that it won’t put points on your license or affect your car insurance rates;
“(c) A violation for which a civil warning or a civil monetary penalty is imposed pursuant to this Code section shall not be considered a moving traffic violation for the purpose of points assessment under Code Section 40-5-57. Such violation shall be deemed noncriminal, and imposition of a civil warning or civil monetary penalty pursuant to this Code section shall not be deemed a conviction and shall not be made a part of the operating record of the person upon whom such liability is imposed, nor shall it be used for any insurance purposes in the provision of motor vehicle insurance coverage.”
The teeth of the statute is the fun part. If you don’t pay the citation, they send notice to the Department of Revenue who then is ordered to not renew your registration or allow you to sell your car without paying the debt.
“(i) If the Department of Revenue receives a referral under subsection (h) of this Code section, such referral shall be entered into the motor vehicle database within five days of receipt and the Department of Revenue shall refuse to renew the registration of the motor vehicle and shall prohibit the title transfer of such vehicle within this state unless and until the civil monetary penalty plus any late fee is paid to the governing body.”
For further reading on how the fees are split and how lucrative it can be, check out this article about Stillmore, Georgia.