Speeders In Georgia To Pay Extra For Police Fuel

HOLLY SPRINGS, Ga. — The surging price of gasoline has come to this: a “fuel surcharge” on your next speeding ticket.

Drivers caught speeding in this north Atlanta suburb soon will have to pay an extra $12 — to cover $4-a-gallon gas costs for the police officers who stop them.

The City Council passed the fee hike, effective July 1, to offset fuel prices that have eaten up nearly 60% of the police department’s 2008 fuel budget, Police Chief Ken Ball says.

He expects the fee increase, which applies to all moving violations and can be rescinded if gas prices fall below $3 a gallon, to generate $19,500 to $26,000 a year for the town of 7,700.

Ball says he was seeking ways to maintain patrols despite record high gas prices. “I was hearing that Delta (Air Lines), pizza deliverers, florists were adding fuel charges to their services, and I thought, why not police departments?” he says.

Atlanta might be next. Monday, the City Council approved by a 13-0 vote Councilman C.T. Martin’s proposal to add a $10-$15 surcharge for motorists convicted of speeding and other moving violations, Martin says. “I want to recover the cost of the extra gas … without raising property taxes,” he says. The legislation awaits Mayor Shirley Franklin’s approval.

Other cities could follow. Ball says he’s being “inundated” by calls from police chiefs and city managers. “I’ve heard from at least a dozen police chiefs and half a dozen city managers,” he says of the measure passed Monday night. “They want to know how we did it, and could we send them a copy of the ordinance.”

Wendy Balazik, spokeswoman for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, says she’s not aware of any other cities adding such a surcharge. “But it makes sense,” she says. “Law enforcement agencies are already facing a number of financial pressures, and rising fuel costs can’t help the situation at all.”

The National League of Cities says it is unaware of other cities adding such fees.

The national average cost for a gallon of regular gas was $4.078 Tuesday, according to auto club AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Katie Harris, 20, a babysitter and student at Georgia Perimeter College, doesn’t like the new fines. “It always seems like government officials are trying to take money from citizens’ pockets,” she says.

Holly Springs Mayor Tim Downing says: “This is a self-taxing system. If you don’t break the law, you don’t pay the tax.”

By Larry Copeland, USA Today

Georgia Speeding Ticket?

Georgia Governor Signs Red-Light Camera Restriction

A new law in Georgia is intended to make it tougher for local governments to install red-light enforcement cameras. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2009.

The cameras that are used in more than 20 cities and counties across the state snap pictures of red-light runners or speeders’ vehicle tags. Tickets are mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a bill into law allowing cities and counties to continue to use automated cameras at intersections, but put new restrictions on them. The new law, previously HB77, requires local governments to get permits from the Georgia Department of Transportation to put up cameras.

Localities with existing programs have until January 2010 to obtain permits for use of the ticketing machines.

Cities will be required to provide the DOT with annual reports on the devices. Local governments also are prohibited from decreasing the duration of traffic lights’ amber time.

Supporters say the changes are intended to ensure the cameras are for safety and not for filling local coffers.

Motorists who are issued photo tickets can avoid fines by sending in forms certifying that they were not driving when their vehicle was captured on camera running a red light.

Story by Keith Goble, Land Line Magazine

Georgia Traffic Ticket Attorneys

Georgia State Patrol Cuts Gas Costs

In an interesting story from TV 11 in Atlanta, reporter Kevin Rowson notes that even the law enforcement agencies have been hit by the high price at the pump. In an effort to keep up the steady stream of revenue generated by speeding tickets and other traffic tickets in the state of Georgia, yet conserve on gas, the Georgia State Highway patrol has taken to getting off the roads and using radar and laser detection to catch offenders. According to this report, it seems to be working.

High gas prices hit some people harder than others. Not many get hit as hard as the law enforcement agency that patrols our state roads. Because of that, the Georgia State Patrol is trying to conserve fuel without cutting enforcement. So far, it seems to be working.

Senior Trooper Larry Schnall is on the road all day, like most of his fellow troopers. You can probably imagine how gas prices can add up. Because of the recent conservation efforts he says fuel consumption has been cut significantly.

“Basically what we’re trying to do is encourage our enforcement officers to simply take alternate areas of patrol, discretionary patrols,” Trooper Schnall said.

What that means is troopers won’t be simply driving around I-285 all day long. You will see more of them stopped on the side of the road running radar and laser.

“You could be visible, stop car after car for speeding and still save miles rather than riding around,” Trooper Schnall said.

He said troopers will be doing more checkpoints for sobriety and licenses. Those efforts will not only cut mileage but also cut wear and tear on patrol cars.

Trooper Schnall says the cutbacks in mileage will have no affect enforcement.

“Public safety’s not gonna be affected at all we’re still out here doing our job, we’re just taking a proactive approach to reduce miles, save fuel and money,” Schnall said.

The Georgia State Patrol is taking other measures too. They are car-pooling to training. They are also switching the grade of gasoline they put in their cars from mid-level to regular unleaded. That will save the agency at least ten cents a gallon.

“Our experts have shown that there’s no damage to the vehicle so using the regular unleaded, our vehicles are not going to suffer,” he said.

The conservation measures have been in place since the first of the year. Schnall said they have already noticed a low-end savings on fuel of 15 percent. Some have saved as much as 25 percent. Those were the goals Georgia State Patrol hoped to reach when they implemented the conservation measures.

Kevin Rowson – 11alive.com