By on January 6, 2010

The fourth or fifth oldest profession (courtesy:rootsweb.ancestry.com)

Drivers in Georgia were hit for the first time last Friday with a new tax on speeding tickets designed to raise between $25 and $30 million in annual revenue for the general fund. The plan was modeled on the driver responsibility taxes in states like Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Texas. A similar plan in Virginia was so unpopular that legislators repealed the tax within six months and refunded all of the money that had been collected under the program.

Governor Sonny Perdue sold the plan as a tax that only hits “Super Speeders.” The levy first proposed by state officials, however, would have been imposed upon anyone who receives a citation that carries license points — no matter how minor — as is the practice in the states with so-called driver responsibility fees. For now, the legislature decided to limit the tax to those accused of driving over 85 MPH anywhere in Georgia or over 75 MPH on a two-lane road.

Those accused of such “super speeding” offenses will pay a hefty fine to the jurisdiction where the violation occurred. Within thirty days, the state’s motor vehicle department will mail a bill demanding a separate $200 payment. This secondary punishment must be paid within ninety days of conviction, as those who cannot afford the fee will have their license automatically suspended. Those who fail to receive the bill or suspension notice in the mail are out of luck because the new law does not require any effort on the part of the state to ensure the letter is actually received.

“No other notice shall be required to make the driver’s license suspension effective,” Georgia Code Section 40-6-189 states.

License suspension under the new law become even more lucrative by imposing a $100 “restoration fee” for license reinstatement. The bill also ups the reinstatement fee for other offenses to as much as $400. In Texas, for example, the speeding ticket tax generated over 1.5 million suspended licenses. Lawmakers in the Lone Star state were disappointed, however, by the amount of revenue this generated. It turns out that only about one-third of fee recipients were able to pay to regain their licenses. The remainder simply drove without a license or insurance.

View a copy of the law in a 75k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File House Bill 160 (Georgia House of Representatives, 5/5/2009)

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40 Comments on “Georgia Enacts Speeding Ticket Tax...”


  • avatar
    210delray

    Love the classic photo, but probably not taken in Georgia!  Future CC material here?

    It’s also hard to believe cops used 2-door sedans back in the day.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Yup,  taxis were 4-door but police specials were 2-door in the 1950′s.  There may be two reasons.  Prisoners were typically transported in “paddy wagons” rather than patrol cars and a 2-door model probably cost a fleet buyer $50 less than an otherwise identical 4-door. That was real money when the cars cost $2000 or so and were replaced annually.

  • avatar

    Them Dukes!  Them Dukes!

    John

  • avatar
    educatordan

    When they were passing out the brains, you must have been behind the door and didn’t get any. -Boss Hogg
     
    Anyone else think that if Georgia sticks with this local malls will be selling bumper stickers that say “I’m a SUPER SPEEDER!” within 6 months?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    One of my customers put the following on the back windshield of his Prelude.
    “Support the local police…. SPEED MORE!”
    He blew the engine in 6 months but to his credit, he paid off the note. He now drives a Suburban.

  • avatar
    Bergwerk

    In Georgia it is all about the revenue.  The “speed kills” argument is exaggerated and not supported by the facts (a recent study in the UK put speed as a factor in only 5% of accidents).  Please understand; am not making a case for recless driving, but many GA interstates are quite safe at 85 mph and many divided state roads can support 75 mph.  I know who my legislators are and how they voted.  I will take appropriate action in the voting booth.

    • 0 avatar
      superbadd75

      Your statement holds true in many other states as well. “Speed Kills” is little more than a tagline for fear mongerers to support their revenue hunt, and it carries very little weight in most locations. The same goes for red light cameras being installed for “public safety”. It’s just not really supported by any real, hard evidence.

    • 0 avatar
      dmrdano

      One of the hardest things I have ever done was to maintain a speed of (approximately) 70 MPH driving across Montana.  That highway was built for 90!  Now, my Caravan, on the other hand, likes to cruise about 75 and not much more.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Speed kills is a stupid reasoning.  Of course I was born in the great state of Ohio that seems to have more cops per person than any other state in the Union.  Thankfully I was still able to maintain a speed of 70mph on the Ohio Turnpike during the busiest day in it’s history (up to that point) back in 1999.
       
      It would have been impossible to maintain 85mph all day long in the old 307V8 Olds Cutlass Supreme I had back in the day.  N0w my girlfriend’s tinny little Pontiac Vibe with a barely 2 liter 4 banger and a 5-speed manual can cruise I-40 at 100mph for two or three hours at a stretch, no problem.

  • avatar
    conswirloo

    I’m no lawyer, but wouldn’t that be double jeopardy?  I don’t know why they wouldn’t just bump the cost of the ticket for those higher end tickets up.  Probably to keep locales from allowing folks to accept a lower speed in court(of the 5 or so speeding tickets I’ve gotten in 21 years, all but 1 have been reduced in court – and all in GA too, wheee)

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    Once you get deemed a “super speeder” it is an endless cycle that just financially drains you to the ground. I have become a victim of this speeding tax in Texas and let me tell you there is nothing better than getting pulled over to find out that your DL is suspended! Because once that happens that is ANOTHER state surcharge. Thank god for lawyers is all I have to say! I no longer refer to cops as cops but Nazis. They are not helping anyone but the city’s bottom line and it almost got to the point where I would consider moving to a different state to avoid this cycle of hell.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      And now let’s play connect the dots, shall we?

      What happens to your insurance bill when your license gets suspended? It goes up.

      And who runs a massive lobby in every state legislature? That’s right, the insurance companies do.

      So…not only do they get to get to jack up your rate because you got a speeding ticket, they get to do it again when you can’t pay it because it’s too ridiculously expensive. And you have to have insurance, otherwise you can’t get your car registered. Oh, and driving without insurance is a moving violation here in Colorado. More points = higher premiums.

      Ka-Ching!!!!!

      Charming, ain’t it?

  • avatar
    tced2

    When are they going to change the title of “policeman” to “revenue agent”?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    In Georgia it is all about the revenue.

     
    It’s all about revenue everywhere.  The problem is that, in the US, the various levels of government are too cowardly to institute broad, flat taxes like the rest of the western world.  The result is hundreds (thousands?) of back-handed cash-grabs that probably cost more to administer, yet garner less revenue, than a simple, more uniform sales and income tax program would.
     
    I remember when, as a young and inexperienced analyst, I was first exposed to the American sales tax system.  Or rather, the lack of a sales tax system: different tax levels (and different ways of classifying a region) per state or, in awful cases, per county.  I couldn’t understand how having this patchwork of laws and duplication of bureaucracies could possibly work, and the nearest explanation I could get was that a) the population in a given area didn’t want to be unfairly subsidizing someone else, or b) they didn’t trust the state and federal government (but had no issues with the petty thugs at the local level).
     
    Then there were the user fees: you paid for everything.  Again, another layer of administration to handle this kind of thing.  Then there was revenue-based enforcement, which I’ve yet to see the zeal of anywhere else.
     
    If you had a gas tax, a real sales tax, and income taxes that were at parity with the rest of the world, this probably wouldn’t be an issue, and the municipal and state governments wouldn’t be so starved that they’d be reduced to this kind of underhanded cash-grabbing

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Canada and European countries impose very stiff fines for speeding, too.

      A speeding ticket can hit $1,000 in Canada, and “excessive” speeders in Ontario can be hit with fines of up to $10,000. “Excessive” speeders in Alberta can face up to $25,000 in fines, which hardly seems justified, considering the wide, flat roads in the province, combined with relatively little traffice.

      In Great Britain, speeding fines can hit $8,000.

      The highest speeding fines in Norway are 10 percent of the driver’s income; in Iceland the highest fines are $2,700.

      In France, Italy and Switzerland, the highest fines can hit $2,100.

      Given that those countries HAVE enacted broad-based taxes (both income and in some cases, a VAT), and their fines are just as high as those in America (actually higher in the case of Canada, Great Britain, Norway and Iceland), I fail to see how this move by Georgia can be laid at the feet of taxaphobia on the part of Americans. Seems to me the better response is to reduce spending and stop fleecing the public in the name of “safety” (which only the truly gullible believe).

      And while not all states do not have an income tax, they do have gasoline and sales taxes, so it’s false to say that Americans have not enacted broad-based taxes at any level (also note that the federal government collects an income tax and imposes a motor fuels tax, too, which are broad-based taxes).

      The idea that state and local government will reduce other taxes in response to higher revenue from tickets for traffic offenses is naive, at best.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Do cars still have gas pedals and brakes ?    Also is cruise control a rare or unusual feature? 

    I ask because seemingly it’s pretty simple to stay at the posted limits.   

    I really don’t have a problem with these kinds of cash grabs – they are a tax on stupidity. 

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Now, I’m a pinko, but the problem I see with a system like this is it leaves the door open to abuse by way of artificially difficult speed zones (eg, 80 down to a 40) that were popular in places like New Rome.
       
      But yes, you’re generally right about both this and yellows.  Don’t speed and don’t run lights and you’re generally ok.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Who on earth still believes that the posted limit on a limited access highway has anything to do with safety, and that exceeding it is “stupid”?  Most people drive at least 75 mph these days; many drive faster.

      It’s not 1949 anymore; most of us aren’t driving around in stovebolt Chevies or flathead Fords, and the 1949 Cadillac isn’t the height of automotive technology.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    I’m troubled about the lack of necessary proof that you ever received such a notice in the mail. While it is your responsibility to keep your address up to date with the DMV, they should have to prove you actually received the penalty paperwork. Seems that a $4 registered letter charge to collect a $200 fine isn’t a financially hardship to the state.

  • avatar
    becurb

    By The Newspaper on January 6, 2010
    In Texas, for example, the speeding ticket tax generated over 1.5 million suspended licenses. Lawmakers in the Lone Star state were disappointed, however, by the amount of revenue this generated. It turns out that only about one-third of fee recipients were able to pay to regain their licenses. The remainder simply drove without a license or insurance.
    Huh. Now, who would have ever predicted that would have been the outcome? Oh, wait, that’s right. I see plenty of vehicles on the road with expired inspection and/or registration stickers, so I probably should have seen that one coming.
    BTW – shouldn’t that be a driver irresponsibility tax?
    Bruce

  • avatar
    50merc

    No wonder that guy in the photo is getting a ticket. He’s driving an early-50′s Plymouth. With their anemic flathead six engines, it was awfully easy to build up speed and when you looked at the speedometer you’d find you were zipping along at forty mph.
    “If you had a gas tax, a real sales tax, and income taxes that were at parity with the rest of the world, this probably wouldn’t be an issue, and the municipal and state governments wouldn’t be so starved that they’d be reduced to this kind of underhanded cash-grabbing”  No, it doesn’t work that way. They quickly figure out how to spend whatever they get and then want more because there’s always a terrific “demand for more services.” The “demand” being higher pay for more bureaucrats and stuff where it’s thought somebody else will pay the bill such as health care.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    “No other notice shall be required to make the driver’s license suspension effective,” Georgia Code Section 40-6-189 states.

    Sounds like a due-process issue to me.

  • avatar
    AccAzda

    Hmmm…
    In being on this site for at least 5yrs or so.. Ive come to recognize that safety on the road isnt why fines / penalities are introduced.

    Heck, Ive come across quite a few red light cameras.. to figure out from TTAC that they arent meant to introduce safety.

    Now..
    I dont know if this is because of the perlious state of the economy.. or is this the new state of the world that we live in. The world of.. THIS BLOWS.

    Red Light Cameras produce more rear end collisions more than anything else.
    Tickets for rinky dink towns arent for safety.. but straight CASH.

    Heck in the day and age where everyone has to have a AWD CUV to be able to cross snow covered areas.. (all without snows).. where nav units are replacing maps (Im most def a victum) and where the biggest piece of lesgislation to come across the Senate isnt Health Care Reform.. or illegal immegrants.. or toxic food..

    Its being able to control your car.. while on a handsfree phone.

    This is a new age..
    And Id like to say..
    This SUCKS.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      You ain’t seen nothin’ yet … just wait until the dollar blows up, loses value against foreign currencies (this is the down-side of an import-dependent economy, esp for necessary commodities, like oil, which are priced in USD), and inflation takes a bite out of whatever disposible income has not been taxed-away by the state…

  • avatar
    jackc10

    I live in GA.  I spend a lot of time on the Interstate system around here and the only vehicles I notice going 20+ miles over the posted speed limit have blue lights on the roof (almost always off) or are unmarked 4 door sedans used by plain clothes folks or chauffering  government VIP types. The area on I-75 around Forsyth GA is a favorite observation route. It is between Macon and Atlanta and has a large state LE conference center and academy. The new surcharge does not apply to them.

    I rarely see other vehicles going that fast. If you are going over 20 mph off the interstate system, good luck.

    The revenue is supposed to go to fund the state’s Trauma Centers. This is not a strong point of GA statewide medical care. The GA legislature does not have a good track record about specified funding sources going to the right pigeon hole. It will also take a lot of these tickets annually, actually paid, the fill the reported $20,000,000 gap needed to meet the funding challenge. Maybe I am missing something but I do not think the revenue will meet the goal.

    Several rural GA sheriff’s have commented negatively about the surcharge so that means it is likely troopers and deputies outside the big urban areas will not be citing many drivers for it.

    I suspect many who receive the letter will just go on driving,  just like the estimated 30% uninsured and the Hispanics who have neither license nor insurance.

  • avatar
    trucosm

    To add another voice re. this absurdity…..85 MPH on I-75 between Atlanta and the Florida border is keeping pace with the flow of traffic.

  • avatar
    tsofting

    @geeber:
    This is probably the first time I rush out to defend Norwegian traffic fine levels. Your reference to speeding tickets to the tune of 10% of your annual income, is, fortunately, not correct. The maximum “standardized” fine for speeding is about $1,200. If you speed above “tabulated” levels, you have to appear in court, and your license will most likely be revoked, you may be sentenced to a prison term, and/or you may have to pay. On the other hand, if you do a DUI, you may actually face a fine in the magnitude you are referring to. The judge may/will order you to pay one month’s gross payto the government to repent your wrongdoing.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The source I looked at said that Norway can impose a fine equal to 10 percent of the driver’s income. Perhaps the writer got speeding fines mixed up with DUI punishment?  

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    @geeber

    Who on earth still believes that the posted limit on a limited access highway has anything to do with safety, and that exceeding it is “stupid”?  Most people drive at least 75 mph these days; many drive faster.
    It’s not 1949 anymore; most of us aren’t driving around in stovebolt Chevies or flathead Fords, and the 1949 Cadillac isn’t the height of automotive technology.

    You’ve completely misunderstood me.    I’m not saying it’s a safety issue.   I’m saying it’s stupid to hand over hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars to the state when the speed of your car is completely under your own control.  

    This isn’t like red light cameras, where the municipality can fiddle the yellow light timing and create a dangerous but lucurative intersection.   Speed is all  under the control of the driver, and the limit is posted.    Simply match the speedo to the sign and you’ll never have to pay a fine.   Very easy.     Anyone who becomes a “super speeder” is stupid.  

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      It’s like the high taxes on Cigarettes, don’t like em? don’t smoke. Don’t like getting taxed on already pricey speeding tickets? Don’t speed.

      you don’t need to smoke to live and you don’t need to speed to get where you’re going, if you do then expect to pay the price.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      A better idea is for the state to stop imposing ridiculous surcharges on speeding tickets to balance budgets. At this point, no one I know believes that these fines have anything to do with making roads safer, and this cynicism spills over to speed limits in general.

      Exceeding the speed limit on a limited access highway is no big deal (at least, judging by the behavior of state and local police around here – if they can do it, so can everyone else, and, no, their sirens aren’t on when they do it).

      But I do believe that speed limits need to be obeyed in residential areas and city surface streets.

      When traffic fines are just revenue generators, people have no problem with ignoring the underlying law or helping others outwit them. This type of nonsense just increases the cynicism of the public and makes elected officials and law enforcement officers an object of the public’s contempt.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I’ll agree that safety has nothing to do with it and that you can do over the speed limit safely on the highway, in actuallity I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t be in the left lane on a 3 lane highway unless your passing or doing atleast 15mph over the posted speed

      The fact is though if you choose to speed and you get caught you can’t really argue about the fine or consequences because you took the risk by speeding.

  • avatar
    celebrity208

    We all know that the tickets are 50% about the money.  If they weren’t the best penalty, in my eyes, would be to keep me idling on the side of the road for 60min.  It may take me 2hrs to earn the cost of a ticket at work but when I’m going somewhere and I might have to sit on the side of the road with my wife telling me how she “told me to slow down” I’d be more apt to “obey” the speed limit in the future.

  • avatar
    findude

    Regarding the Virginia law that Gov. Kaine repealed, if I recall correctly one issue with a “tax” on speeding tickets is that a state cannot tax the residents of other states. This meant that a Virginian and a Marylander (for example) could get the same ticket in the same place on the same day and the Virginian might pay much more.
     
    It was also clear that the original law was much encouraged by the sorts of lawyers who make a living representing ticketed citizens. Basically, everybody who got a really big speeding ticket in Virginia had to get a local attorney who specialized in traffic tickets (er, played golf with the judge–or in those rural counties went hunting) to represent them in court.  This is still true with the clause that makes speeders over 80mph eligible for jail time–everybody who sees that on their ticket happily shells out $5–$1,000 to have a lawyer stand for them.
     
    Times are tough for states now. Though not nearly as bad as California, Virginia is cutting services left and right. Localities (counties and independent cities) are really hurting and the pressure is on to generate income in every way possible. It’s not just motorists, even library fines have gone way up. Interestingly, the same logic applies–people who don’t let their books get overdue don’t have to pay the new “taxes.”

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    A tax on a fine. That is the definition of adding insult to injury.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I detest speeding tickets. Therefore I do everything I can to avoid them. This actually works quite well as my last one was in 1987.  However, I doubt that my strategy will keep me ticket-free for much longer as I expect the states to get even more aggressive to the point where the one-mile-over tickets will begin to return. That’s the best reason to fight this nonsense.

    However,  it must be said that there’s a strong parallel between the “keep taxes low so that governments won’t spend” idea and the notion that drug laws will eradicate drug use.  It’s a stupid fiction that paralyzes us. Unless we actually address the legitimate funding needs of our municipalities honestly (either broad-based tax increases or real cuts in spending or some combination thereof), we’re going to get nickled and dimed into serfdom.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Despite the many ways the Great State of Maine gouges her residents, I am always thankful that here not one red cent of traffic fine money goes to the local municipality. It all goes to the State. So not much incentive for overly aggressive local ticketing (other than bored local cops with nothing better to do), and we have damned few State Troopers to cover an awful lot of state. Though if you do get a ticket, the fines are pretty steep – I think the minimum is $200+ these days.

    State law also prohibits all forms of photo ticketing.

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    If everybody looked for every speed limit sign they passed it would be more distracting to the driver then txting while driving.
    I know the answer to my problem… slow down.. and I have a lot, but I don’t live in a perfect world where I’m always calm and able to watch speed limit signs and my gauges every second I’m driving.  People get stressed, we get in hurries, we live in a world that is just, go! go! go! and then we get fined significantly when we do so which just adds to the stress.
    If speeding is such a “safety” issue than why don’t your GPS warn you when your speeding???

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    As soon as the option of a GPS-interfaced-cruise control is offered, I’m buying it no matter what the price!

    Soon as this feature, or a GPS-speed-limiter becomes standard on all vehicles, this tired safety v. tax debate will be forever laid to rest along with the potential for questionable use, misuse and abuse of the funds by public officials.  (Also, speed limits will again be set by traffic engineers and not by the tax-man … this probably means limits will be able to go up on the better roads.)

    Personally I can’t wait.


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