Georgia DUI investigations usually begin with a routine traffic stop. At a minimum, in order to stop you and your vehicle, the stopping officer needs to have “reasonable and articulable suspicion” to believe a crime has, or is about to be committed. An officer normally satisfies this requirement by observing a traffic or equipment violation. However, if it is determined the officer did NOT have reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop your vehicle; this could result in the suppression of evidence and the ultimate dismissal of a DUI charge.

Therefore,
it is crucial to examine the most common types of traffic violations that
result in a DUI investigation. This article serves to inform you of the nature,
methods of proof, penalties, and challenges to a speeding offense in Georgia.

The Offense

Speeding
is one of the most common traffic offenses associated with DUI arrests in
Georgia. This is likely because officers are equipped with speed detection
devices and it is the type of offense that catches an officer’s eye.

In
order to fully understand speeding laws in Georgia, you would have to refer to
various parts of five different statutes: O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-180, 40-6-181,
40-6-182, 40-6-183 and 40-6-188. The provisions of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180 also
cover the catch-all offense known as “driving too fast for conditions.”

Georgia
has “absolute” speed limits, meaning a violation occurs even at one mile per
hour over the posted speed limit. Unless otherwise posted, the absolute speed
limits are as follows:

  • 20 miles per hour
    in school zones
  • 30 miles per hour
    in urban and residential districts
  • 35 miles per hour
    on unpaved country roads
  • 65 miles per hour
    on sections of physically divided highways without full access control on the
    state highway system
  • 70 miles per hour
    on interstate highways, and
  • 55 miles per hour
    on other roadways.

Absolute
limits aside, Georgia’s basic speeding law prohibit driving at a speed greater
than is “reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for the
actual and potential hazards then existing.” Therefore, a driver must always
drive at a safe and reasonable speed. What is safe and reasonable depends on
the circumstances. 40 miles per hour on a clear day with no traffic is more
safe and reasonable than 40 miles per hour in a snow storm with heavy traffic.

Penalties

Under
Georgia law, technically, speeding offenses are misdemeanors and are therefore
punishable with up to a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. Although
these are the maximum punishments, speeding cases generally do not result in
jail time.

For a
first time speeding offense, the maximum fines are as follows:

  • $0 for speeding
    by 5 miles per hour or less over the limit
  • $25 for speeding
    by more than 5 but less than 10 miles per hour over the limit
  • $100 for speeding
    by more than 10 but less than 14 miles per hour over the limit
  • $125 for speeding
    by more than 14 but less than 19 miles per hour over the limit
  • $150 for speeding
    by at least 19 but less than 24 miles per hour over the limit
  • $500 for speeding
    by at least 24 but less than 34 miles per hour over the limit

Speeding
in “work zones” can be punished by fines ranging from $100 to $2,000 and/or
jail up to twelve months as this is a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor. Also,
anyone convicted of speeding at 85 miles per hour, or 75 miles per hour on a
two lane highway, will be deemed a “super speeder,” causing an additional $200
fine to be added to the sentence. These fine amounts are base fines and do not
include statutory surcharges which significantly increase the total fine
amount. A sentencing judge can always add on defensive driving courses as a
condition of your sentence. In addition to fines and course, a motorist can
also expect points to be assessed on their license by DDS (2-6 points depending
on the offense).

Challenging the Stop

A
speeding charge may be challenged through a motion to suppress or a motion in
limine which are designed to attack the stop, arrest, or any evidence gathered
as a result of an unlawful stop and/or arrest.

The
State has the burden of proving each and every law regarding speed detection
devices.

First,
the arresting officer will attempt to establish they visually estimated your
speed. Visual estimation of speed is sufficient to convict in Georgia.

In
order to establish a “visual estimation,” the officer must testify that: he/she
is trained in the visual estimation of speed for vehicles, how long he/she has
been trained, how he/she was trained, how many visual estimations he/she has
made in their career, and that he/she is accurate to within +- 5 mph of their
estimation.

The
State must also prove:

  • The department
    issuing you the citation has a permit
    issued by the Department of Public Safety to operate speed detection devices.
    The prosecutor may either admit this document into evidence or just have the
    officer testify that such a permit exists. O.C.G.A. 40-14-2.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that the location where you were speeding is on the Department of
    Public Safety’s list of approved
    locations for the use of speed detection devices.
    Many prosecutors
    think the officer’s testimony alone is enough to satisfy this requirement, but
    the prosecutor must admit this list into evidence. O.C.G.A. 40-14-3.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that the agency issuing the citation has a permit from the Federal Communications Commission to operate the
    device, and that device was inspected by a technician before it was placed into
    service and that the device is serviced by the technician annually
    .
    This provision only applies to citations based on radar evidence. This
    provision does not apply to speeding tickets issued based on Lidar/laser,
    VASCAR, pacing, or other forms of speed detection. O.C.G.A. 40-14-4.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that the officer tested
    his speed detection device for accuracy at the beginning and end of his shift
    and that he recorded the results in a logbook
    . This may be proven
    through oral testimony, or the prosecutor may admit the logbook into evidence.
    O.C.G.A. 40-14-5.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that there are signs at
    least 24 by 30 inches when you enter the county, city, etc. warning that there
    are speed detection devices in use
    . O.C.G.A. 40-14-6.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that the officer was not
    using the speed detection device within 500 feet of these signs
    .
    O.C.G.A. 40-14-6.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that the officer was not
    using the speed detection device within 500 feet of a change in speed limit sign
    .
    O.C.G.A. 40-14-6.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that the officer operating
    a stationary speed detection device was visible for at least 500 feet to
    traffic
    . O.C.G.A. 40-14-7.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that your speed was more
    than 10 mph over the posted speed limit unless you are in a school zone,
    historic district, or residential zones all of which must be properly marked
    .
    An area with a speed limit of 35 mph is not automatically a residential zone.
    The area must be properly marked as a school, historic, or residential zone.
    O.C.G.A. 40-14-8.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove you were not within 300
    feet of a change in speed limit sign (if inside a municipality) or within 600
    feet of a change in speed limit sign
    (if outside a municipality).
    O.C.G.A. 40-14-9.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove that there was not a
    change in the speed limit in the 30 days prior to your being issued the ticket
    at the location where you were given the ticket
    . O.C.G.A. 40-14-9.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove the location where you
    received the ticket is no on a grade in excess of 7 percent
    . Just
    because a location is listed on the Department of Public Safety’s list of
    approved locations for the use of speed detection devices this does not mean
    the location has been measured for the grade. This is an excellent source for
    cross-examination. O.C.G.A. 40-14-9.
  • The prosecutor
    must prove the officer issuing you
    the ticket has a permit to operate speed detection devices
    . This may be
    proven by admitting the permit or having the officer testify that he is certified.
    O.C.G.A. 40-14-10.

In
addition to these technical requirements, an experienced attorney can also
raise challenges to errors committed by the operator of a speed detection
device. Examples include, but are not limited to: lack of training, misidentifying
your vehicle as the speeding vehicle, improper movement or aiming of the speed
detection device, the officer’s visibility and/or reaction time, interference
with the device (weather conditions, radio interference, air conditioning,
reflective surfaces).

As we
can see, there are many intricate requirements the prosecution must properly
satisfy in order to prove speeding. Because of these various requirements, it
is highly recommended you contact an experienced attorney who can raise these
challenges in a pre-trial motion or at trial.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been
arrested for driving under the influence, contact the law firm of W.
Scott Smith at 404.581.0999
 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta DUI attorney ready to aggressively fight
on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.