Almost daily, Gainesville police clock lead foots driving close to 75 mph within the city limits. Every so often, they catch motorists going 85 mph on one of Gainesville’s more speed-prone roads, Thompson Bridge Road or Dawsonville Highway.
On Dawsonville Highway, that’s 40 mph above the speed limit, Sgt. Dean Staples notes.
If legislation backed by Gov. Sonny Perdue passes, it wouldn’t be uncommon for speeders to pay tickets of $500 or more if they get caught going 75 mph on a two-lane road, or 85 mph anywhere in Georgia.
Perdue’s "super speeder" bill would tack on an extra $200 fine for those speeding infractions, with the money going to a state fund for trauma care.
"I think it’s a good idea," Staples said, noting Georgia had more than 1,600 traffic fatalities in 2007 at a cost in excess of $7 billion. The super speeder law could generate up to $23 million to improve Georgia’s trauma care network, Staples said.
In Gainesville municipal court, fines imposed vary according to the speed and the driver’s history. Municipal Court Solicitor Lee Parks said drivers caught exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 40 mph can expect a fine of $200 or up, depending on their record. A person with three speeding tickets in the past five years can expect to pay $300 or more, though Judge Hammond Law often takes individual circumstances into account, Parks said. Fines max out at $1,000, which one Gainesville man paid after his 18th speeding ticket in five years.
The worst offenders "can also end up spending a couple of days in jail," Parks said.
Hall County sheriff’s Col. Jeff Strickland said the most common areas where deputies catch folks going in excess of 75 mph is on Ga. 365 north of Exit 24 and on Ga. 129, both northbound and southbound out of town.
"The more severe accidents that involve fatalities are often related to speeding," Strickland said.
It is the second time Perdue has tried to increase fines for folks driving excessively fast. The legislation failed to win approval in 2007.
State Rep. Jim Cole, R-Jasper, introduced the bill this year on Perdue’s behalf.
"This is extremely important legislation not only to me, but to the state of Georgia as a whole," Cole said in a statement. "We must do all we can to help make our roads and highways as safe as possible. The bottom line is this: Super speeder will both directly and indirectly save the lives of Georgians."