Back in the day, anyone, or almost anyone, could defend speeding tickets in Cobb County. Police departments usually didn’t pay overtime for officers to testify in court in these cases. So, they usually didn’t appear, and the judge usually dismissed the case on the spot. As a last resort, traffic school was frequently there for the taking.
Several years ago, the Department of Labor changed the rules and mandated overtime pay in these situations. Furthermore, many law enforcement departments now severely discipline officer who don’t show up for court testimony. Furthermore, traffic school is unavailable in most places. So, the days of easy defenses and a reliable Plan B are over.
Speeding tickets themselves have changed as well. Back in the day, officers manually transferred information from the defendant’s drivers’ license onto a paper ticket. Now, computers automatically transfer such information, reducing the possibility of a typographical or other such error.
Sometimes, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer adjusts to new legal and technical environments. Other times, an attorney sticks to proven methods. This combination greatly enhances the chances of a successful resolution of a criminal case, from a “minor” one, like a speeding ticket, to a “major” one, like sexual battery.
Tyes of Speeding Tickets
Georgia is one of the few U.S. jurisdictions with three categories of speeding tickets. Municipal and county court prosecutors normally file the most aggressive charges the facts could possibly support.
This infraction is, by far, the most common speeding infraction in Cobb County. Per se speeding and environmental speeding are both illegal in Georgia.
Speeding Per Se
Per se speeding is driving faster than the posted limit or presumed speed limit. We won’t go into detail about posted limits, at least at this point in this post. But we will briefly discuss presumed speed limits, which are:
- 70mph on rural interstate highways,
- 65mph on urban interstates or divided highways,
- 55mph on two-lane highways and any other road without a presumptive seed limit,
- 35mph on an unpaved county road, and
- 30mph on any urban surface street.
That last presumed speed limit nabs many drivers. Even if a well-traveled surface street has four or six lanes separated by a median, the presumed speed limit is 30mph.
Speeding ticket fines are relatively modest. Depending on the jurisdiction, the court costs and state fees could be at least twice the fine amount. Furthermore, a single speeding ticket adds between three and six points to your license.
Driving too fast for traffic, environmental, road, or other conditions also violates Section 40-60-181. Officers rarely issue these citations. They’re subjective and more difficult to prove, especially in some situations.
If Lisa has driven basically the same route every day for the past ten years and Officer Tim, a Florida native, is a new Marietta Police Department hire, her opinion as to what’s reasonably safe might be just as compelling as his, at least in the eyes of some jurors.
The direct penalties for ordinary and environmental are basically the same. Indirect penalties are roughly the same as well. An ordinary speeding ticket usually means about a 25 percent rate hike. Super speeder and reckless driving increases could be more than 80 percent.
Many states have dumped anachronistic super speeder laws, but Georgia’s version of this law is still on the books.
Super Speeders are drivers ticketed for traveling 75mph or faster on a two-lane road, or 85mph or faster on any other road or highway. Back in the day, 85mph was a NASCAR speed. Today, it’s barely over the speed limit on most rural interstates.
Super speeders must pay an extra $200 fine on top of all other fines, costs, and points. Drivers who don’t pay all fines and court costs within 120 days face license suspension. Normally, the state mails the suspension notice to the driver’s address of record, which is often outdated. Therefore, the motorist may not know about the suspension, but it’s in effect, nevertheless.
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor with a minimum 48-hour jail term and possible six-month suspension.
Incidentally, drivers’ licenses aren’t magically valid when the suspension periods end. The termination simply allows the driver to apply for reinstatement. The state usually grants this application, if the driver meets all requirements, such as providing proof of insurance and paying a reinstatement fee.
The “hope the officer doesn’t appear” defense is no longer a reliable one, but several others are available.
First, we should address typos on the ticket, a situation that still arises from time to time. A Marietta criminal defense lawyer can get the case thrown out of court, if the typo creates a fatal variance between the proof and pleadings.
If Officer Tim puts the wrong time on Lisa’s ticket, the judge will most likely let that slide. If Officer Tim put the wrong speed on Lisa’s ticket, that might be a fatal variance.
Next, as most of us know, ignorance of the law (a mistake of law) is no excuse. Ignorance of fact might be a defense. Many speed limit signs are badly damaged or obscured by tree limbs.
The enforcement method might be the most effective defense in these cases. RADAR guns are only accurate at near-point blank range.
Speeding Ticket Resolutions
Charge reduction and pretrial diversion are the two most common ingredients of a speeding ticket plea bargain arrangement in Cobb County.
Frequently, either the prosecutor or the judge will reduce the charge, if the driver pleas guilty. Reducing a super speeder charge to ordinary speeding avoids a huge insurance rate hike. An mph reduction might be available as well, such as a 19-23mph-over case to an under-15mph case.
Pretrial diversion is the informal equivalent of traffic court. Prosecutors drop the charges if the driver pays a small fee, attends a brief class, and jumps through a few other hoops.
Hit and run cases often don’t hold up in court. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta criminal defense attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.
 The Census Department’s unhelpful definition of rural area is anyplace place outside an urban area, which probably means anyplace outside the city limits. The Agriculture Department’s slightly more helpful definition is any area with a population density under 500 people per square mile. This definition could encompass some areas inside city limits, especially outside Marietta and its immediate suburbs.