Georgia bill would limit city use of speed radar

| 12/11/2009

Georgia lawmakers have started prefiling bills in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the 2010 regular session. One effort is intended to put the brakes on communities that use speed radar as a moneymaker.

Sponsored by Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, the bill targets towns that have police patrol spots on interstates and issue tickets as a way to generate revenue. If approved, municipalities would be prohibited from running radar on interstates.

Seabaugh said the goal of his legislation isn’t to eliminate the use of radar. He simply wants to ensure it is used properly. He said that several of his constituents have “complained about particular cities they have driven through with seven or eight patrol cars sitting on the side of the road running radar. Their question was how could they be properly protecting the citizenry of that city when they’re out there on the interstate running radar.”

He wants to put the clamps on communities to prevent abuse of authority to issue tickets on interstates as a way to rake in revenue.

Speed enforcement on interstates should be left to sheriff’s deputies and Georgia State Patrol troopers, Seabaugh said.

With local governments confronted with tight budgets, he said it appears that some communities are getting lured into the prospects of making an easy buck.

“I think there are city councils that view this as being easy money. They don’t want to make tough decisions on cutting expenses or raising taxes. But they shouldn’t be looking for gimmicks for an easy way to raise revenue. Enforcement has to have integrity,” Seabaugh said.

The bill – SB295 – is awaiting consideration for the session that begins in mid January.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Georgia in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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