1/6/2010Georgia Balances Budget With Speeding Ticket Tax
Georgia implements speeding ticket tax to shore up the state budget.
Drivers in Georgia were hit for the first time last Friday with a new tax on speeding tickets designed to raise between $25 and $30 million in annual revenue for the general fund. The plan was modeled on the driver responsibility taxes in states like Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Texas. A similar plan in Virginia was so unpopular that legislators repealed the tax within six months and refunded all of the money that had been collected under the program.
Governor Sonny Perdue sold the plan as a tax that only hits "Super Speeders." The levy first proposed by state officials, however, would have been imposed upon anyone who receives a citation that carries license points -- no matter how minor -- as is the practice in the states with so-called driver responsibility fees. For now, the legislature decided to limit the tax to those accused of driving over 85 MPH anywhere in Georgia or over 75 MPH on a two-lane road.
Those accused of such "super speeding" offenses will pay a hefty fine to the jurisdiction where the violation occurred. Within thirty days, the state's motor vehicle department will mail a bill demanding a separate $200 payment. This secondary punishment must be paid within ninety days of conviction, as those who cannot afford the fee will have their license automatically suspended. Those who fail to receive the bill or suspension notice in the mail are out of luck because the new law does not require any effort on the part of the state to ensure the letter is actually received.
"No other notice shall be required to make the driver's license suspension effective," Georgia Code Section 40-6-189 states.
License suspension under the new law become even more lucrative by imposing a $100 "restoration fee" for license reinstatement. The bill also ups the reinstatement fee for other offenses to as much as $400. In Texas, for example, the speeding ticket tax generated over 1.5 million licenses were suspensions. Lawmakers in the Lone Star state were disappointed, however, by the amount of revenue this generated. It turns out that only about one-third of fee recipients were able to pay to regain their licenses. The remainder simply drove without a license or insurance.
View a copy of the law in a 75k PDF file at the source link below.