Introduction

In the Chattahoochee Valley area – especially in Columbus, Georgia, the use of traffic cameras in school zones, is a hot topic. Many local residents are wondering: “Are traffic cameras legal?” This Gary Bruce wants you to know more about these cameras and how they will impact cases, traffic and criminal fines. We  will explore the legality of traffic cameras and the implications of receiving a ticket from one.

  1. The Legality of Traffic Cameras

Traffic cameras are indeed legal throughout the state of Georgia, including their use in school zones. These devices are typically installed to improve safety by reducing speeding and enforcing traffic laws more consistently. It’s important to note that the penalties from these cameras are civil, not criminal, which means they do not usually impact a criminal record. I would argue that civil penalties should NOT impact a driving record, but the question does remain as to whether these tickets are going to be reported to insurance companies to use as an excuse to raise rates.

  1. Legal Concepts and Local Laws

In Georgia, the fines from traffic cameras are considered civil penalties. This distinction means that, unlike criminal charges, the fines do not imply a criminal record or require court appearances, but they are enforceable. State law allows local governments to implement these cameras specifically to increase safety in high-risk areas, such as school zones. The revenue from these fines typically goes towards public safety projects, further enhancing community security.  In most cities in Georgia, the fist ticket is $75.00. This discourages drivers from fighting the ticket. If a ticket goes unpaid, the vehicle owner will not be able to renew their vehicle registration until the ticket is resolved.

In Alabama, only eight municipalities allow traffic cameras. Phenix City is one of those municipalities ( I guess the salesman stopped by the Phenix City city hall while selling Columbus officials!!).  The maximum initial fine in Alabama is $100.00.   Legislatures in both states have attempted to claw back some of the excessive tickets given out by these cameras, on the basis that much of the fines are paid to private companies who set up and manage the cameras; not the city. I think it is important to note that these cameras are a product sold for use to cities.

  1. Practical Advice for Drivers

For drivers in Columbus, Georgia, and the surrounding areas, being aware of and respecting traffic camera signs in school zones is crucial—not only to avoid fines but also as a matter of public safety. School zones are high-risk areas due to the frequent presence of children, and adhering to speed limits can significantly decrease the likelihood of accidents. Always slow down in school zones, follow signage, and be especially vigilant during school hours.

  1. Real-Life Implications in the Chattahoochee Valley

It is reasonable to wonder whether it is worth contesting a traffic camera ticket since these penalties are civil, and not criminal. While fighting such a ticket is an option, it often involves legal fees that may exceed the cost of the ticket itself.  Before deciding to contest a traffic camera ticket, consider the potential costs and benefits of legal action.

Conclusion: Expertise of Gary Bruce

At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, located in Columbus, Georgia, we have over 30 years of experience serving the Chattahoochee Valley community. Our deep understanding of local laws and strong commitment to our clients’ rights make us a trusted ally in navigating traffic law issues and other legal challenges. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your specific situation.

I am not a fan of these automated policing tactics and machines, but I do agree that we need to be careful in school zones and busy areas where the safety of children is involved.  I also believe we should spend some of the money on SIDEWALKS – we have a terrible need in our community for decent walking options, especially around our schools.  Maybe the money from tickets can be used for some good. We shall see.

For more information on this topic, watch Gary Bruce discuss traffic cameras and legal implications on WTVM’s Legal Break in Columbus. Click here to view the link and gain valuable insights into how traffic laws affect you in Columbus, Georgia, and Phenix City, Alabama.