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Speed Camera Enforcement Set to Begin at Some Effingham county Schools

Beginning October 1, a number of school zones in Effingham County will utilize unmanned speed detection devices to fine speeders.

These particular speed zone cameras can only be used in a school zone. Drivers who exceed the speed limit during school zone hours or by 10 mph during any other period are captured on camera. Unlike red light cameras, which depict a picture of the driver, speed zone cameras snap a photo of only the license tag with a remotely operated device, which uploads to the private company’s database. The private company issues a violation notice, collects the payment, and sends a split to the municipality or county. 

The violation is not a criminal violation but rather a civil matter handled nearly entirely without law enforcement with ultimate repercussions including a vehicle lien by the Georgia Department of Revenue. A certified peace officer must approve the violations within 60 days of the image capture and the signature of that officer, the badge number, and the SPD logo appear on the Notice of Violation sent to the vehicle owner. The individual has 35 days from the issue date of the violation to pay the fine. 

There is no initial investment by the city or county and the company recoups its costs via the percentage split as outlined in a multi-year contract. TheGeorgiaVirtue has not reviewed the contract in Effingham County.

The entire process is authorized under OCGA 40-14-18, which was approved via HB 978 in 2017. The law took effect on July 1, 2018. 

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office released the following press release on Tuesday:

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office will begin an Automated Traffic Enforcement Speed Device program at nine schools throughout the county to increase safety for students, parents, teachers, and anyone else traveling through the school zones.

As a part of the program, speed studies were conducted across the county during school hours for a five-day period to see how many vehicles were speeding through the school zones. During the 5-day period, the nine school zones had a combined total of 7,730 speeding vehicles. Speeding vehicles are defined as any vehicle speeding in excess of 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

The Photo Speed Enforcement System combines a public information campaign along with a 30-day warning period to encourage people to slow down and change their driving habits. In school zones, there are flashing lights and posted speed limits. Additional road signs will show a vehicle’s speed and give advance warning of the upcoming school zone.

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Cameras will be used to identify any vehicles traveling over the approved speed limit. Anyone in the designated school zone driving 11 mph or more over the posted speed limit will receive a citation in the mail. This means that if the flashing light speed limit is 25 mph, you will be given a ticket at 36 mph. Once the lights turn off, the speed limit may rise to 35 mph, and you would be ticketed at 46 mph. Speed limits are posted within the school zone.

October 1st will start the initial 30-day warning period. During this 30-day warning period violators will receive a warning in the mail that carries no fine. After the warning period has expired, violators will receive a citation in the mail. The fine will be $75 (+$25 processing fee) for the first offense and $100 (+$25 processing fee) for each subsequent offense. This violation is a civil violation and is not considered a traffic violation.

You will not receive points on your driver’s license, and it will not be reported to your insurance. The automated speed zone will be enforced on school days starting one hour before school starts until one hour after the end of the school day. Even when lights are not flashing, the regular posted speed limit will be photo enforced when school is in session all day long.

The 30-day warning period will run from October 1 through October 31, 2021. Starting Monday, November 1, the enforcement phase will begin. Schools in Phase One will include Blandford Elementary, Marlow Elementary, South Effingham Elementary, South Effingham Middle, and South Effingham High. Effingham County Middle and High as well as Ebenezer Elementary and Middle will be phased in shortly after.

We’re committed to safeguarding our kids with this innovative initiative. Please drive safely in our school zones and in our community. The program will launch October 1st at the following locations:

  • Blandford (McCall Rd)
  • Marlow (SR 17)
  • South Effingham ES (Kolic Helmey Rd)
  • South Effingham MS/HS (SR 30 – Noel C. Conaway Rd)

Soon to follow are: Effingham County MS/HS (SR 119) and Ebenezer ES/MS on Ebenezer Rd. and we are still working on permit for Sand Hill ES and it will not be ready for the October 1st start time.

Failure to pay a violation means the private entity that owns the cameras has the ability to place a lien on the vehicle associated with the tag captured in the photo. Under the terms and conditions of most financed vehicles, a second lien on a vehicle impairs the security interest of the first lien holder – the financier – which can initiate the repossession process. 

These companies have access to public safety databases, much like towing companies do, but are acting on behalf of the law enforcement agency. 

Affidavits may be submitted if an individual requests a hearing in municipal court on the premise that the individual can suggest or prove another person was driving the vehicle at the time of the captured picture. Sworn affidavits, however, must be notarized, which means a person would need to know a notarized affidavit would be necessary before arriving at court for a hearing. Any other defense in a hearing in municipal court would require self-representation or representation by an attorney for the violation.

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Jessica Szilagyi
Written By

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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