Georgia’s new “super speeder law,” which went into effect Jan. 1, applies to motorists convicted of driving 85 miles per hour or faster on a multi-lane road or interstate, or 75 miles per hour or faster on a two-lane road.
Gov. Sonny Perdue has said fines collected under the new law could generate $23 million annually for the state’s coffers, and other estimates run as high as $30 million. But at least one Middle Georgia sheriff claims it’s going to create a hardship for the poor.
Emanuel County Sheriff J. Tyson Stephens, a past president of the Georgia Sheriffs' Association, says the new law amounts to yet another tax on citizens, one that will disproportionately deplete the pockets of the poor and lower middle-class.
“Let’s say you have a single mother who’s trying to get about and get her kids to day care and school and herself to work, and she slips up and has a ticket,” explains Stephens. “She pays that fine with her local jurisdiction, and then it goes to Driver Services, and they send her a notice sometime later she’s being assessed $200 on [her] super speeder violation, and we are talking about someone who could barely pay the first fine.
“So now she has to decide, does she pay the $200 to the state or does she feed her children that week? Obviously, she’s going to have to choose the rent and food over the super speeder law. Next thing you know, her insurance is canceled. It’s a domino effect, and I don’t see the need for it.”
Stephens’ assessment of how the law works is correct. After a conviction is processed through the appropriate court, word is sent to the Georgia Department of Driver Services. The offender is then notified she has to pay $200—the super speeder fine, in addition to her original fine—within 90 days, or her license is suspended. If the license is suspended, the offender must fork over $250 to get it back.