On my last trip to Florida, I got nailed for a pretty stiff speeding ticket. I was probably speeding, although unless my speedometer is wildly inaccurate, I was not going nearly as fast as the officer indicated. It was in a construction zone, ostensibly with workers present (according to the officer), but I had actually been looking for workers and hadn’t seen any. This is because there are so many damned construction zones currently south of Atlanta, and I found it bemusing to have to drive through about 100 miles total of “construction zone” when there wasn’t a worker anywhere in sight. I was going generally the speed of other traffic, in the sixty to seventy range, and was beginning to get road weary, so I was actually looking for a place to stop and stretch and rest my eyes and legs a bit. Just as I was trying to read a billboard for “Tifton, Georgia: Turf Grass capitol of the United States”, and wondering if they meant that new field turf or regular sod (told you I was tired), I spotted the County Sherriff’s car to my left. He was sitting in the construction median, and I noticed another one over on the other side of the street. There was a medium sized truck to my right, so I may have accelerated a bit just before seeing the police cruiser, in an effort to finish reading the billboard (stupid, I know). I’d even seen some cruisers earlier along and was looking for a place to slot over to the right.
The ticketing officer was decent enough, though he didn’t cut me any slack. He wrote me up for 82 (yikes) in a 60 zone, plus the doubled fine for construction. They apparently don’t have a fixed rate for their tickets, and I had to wait and call in to the County Court the following week to find out the damages, which is a $278 fine. The infraction occurred on I-75 just south of Cordele approximately 5:15-5:30 pm on a Friday. There were plenty of orange barrels around, although the road actually seems complete and I wonder if they don’t just keep the barrels around to double their revenues. Probably every single car on the road was travelling at least slightly over the speed limit, so they could pretty much pick and choose who to ticket, I just happened to be in the unfortunate spot of having plenty of distance between me and the car behind me.
Is it worth going to court over the ticket? I’ve seen some books for sale over the internet on beating radar issued tickets, but I’m wary of anything like that, and have no familiarity with them. Is anyone else familiar with this stuff?
It’s also south Georgia, where they take their speeding tickets seriously and I’ll be viewed as some damn Yankee from Ohio (even though I lived in Georgia and Florida for many years). I’ll actually be in the vicinity the previous week and it wouldn’t be a huge deal to spend the weekend in Atlanta and drive down for court the following Monday. They don’t offer driving school as an option to avoid the hit to the driving record (I’ve not had a ticket that I can recall in the past ten years or so) and will be insuring some new vehicles soon, which is my concern more than the fine itself. Remember that the ticket was issued by the County Sheriff’s office and not the State Highway Patrol. Crisp County, of which Cordele is the county seat, is the jurisdiction.
What, if anything, would I risk by contending it? And what’s the most I could reasonably expect to gain? (I’d be happy with no contest and court costs equal to the fine if it would keep my record clean).
I know that none of you are my lawyer, just looking for general guidance here.
This page seems to have some pretty thorough info on fighting speeding tickets (how radar and laser and all those work). However, all the sites I’ve seen seem to indicate you’re rather lucky, as speeding in Georgia construction zones seems to double the regular penalty AND can land you in jail for up to a year.
Apparently the $278 was the double fine, which seems kind of light for an alleged 22 mph over the speed limit, but as I said I don’t have much experience with this stuff at all. I’ll check out the site you linked to. Thanks.
You might want to call the court before you make any decisions. Some courts don’t hold the arraignment and trial on the same day; you have to appear in court at least twice. This might mess up your travel schedule.
You should also ask if you’ll have any chance to talk to the prosecuting attorney before the arraignment. If so, you’ll have an opportunity to work out some kind of deal.
I would suggest you call a lawyer in the area and see if they can help you. I have done that several times in the past when I have gotten speeding tickets. I have still had to pay the court costs but twice I have gotten the ticket itself dropped and no points on my insurance.
I’ll be in Atlanta the whole prior week, so if you’re serious I’m sure I can be free at least one evening. My meetings are in the Perimeter area and I’m staying at the Holiday Inn - Dunwoody/Perimeter, which is between 400 and I-85 on the beltway.
I’ve been driving in Florida for 5 years and gotten exactly two tickets. I’ve driven through GA four times, and gotten exactly two tickets, both in f***ing Tifton. It’s those ridiculous signs that get you- “Tifton, GA: Underwater Basket Weaving Capital of the World!” or “LAN Party Capital of the World!”. You spend so long staring wondering who paid for that retarded billboard, then look down and realize you’ve hit 100 and see blue lights behind you and… I hate Georgia.
Don’t fight it. Georgia traffic procedures are bizarre. If you do, hire a Georgia-based lawyer, not one in your area.
You can plead no contest in GA on a ticket…I don’t remember how frequently you can do that, but pleading no contest can help you out. My best friend has gotten more tickets than I could ever imagine, so I will ask her for you when I talk to her (probably this weekend). I’ll get as many details for you as possible.
AFAIK (IANAL), pleading “no contest” makes no practical difference with anything.
Plead guily = conviction
Plead no contest = conviction
Plead not guilty = conviction or not depending on the outcome of the case
There aren’t various “levels” of convictions.
As to the question of whether to fight the ticket, my understanding is that it is very difficult for the state to prove that workers were actually present when the violation occured. I would suggest offering to plead guilty or no contest for the normal fine as opposed to the doubled fine.