'Super speeders' law adds $200 to ticket

Drivers with lead feet will be left with lighter wallets next year after a new Georgia law targeting "super speeders" goes into effect.

Beginning Jan. 1, anyone traveling 75 mph on the state's two-lane roads or 85 mph on any other road will be charged $200 on top of the normal speeding fine.

"It's going to be a rude awakening for violators," said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Ticketed drivers will pay their local fine, and then the information will be sent to the Department of Driver Services, where officials will determine whether the new law was violated. If it was, they will send out a separate bill for $200, explained Katie Fallon, of the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety. The money raised from the fine will go to the state's trauma care hospital system. About 60 percent of all trauma-care patients are victims of car crashes, according to www.superspeedergeorgia.org, a state Web site.

"If there are grumblings -- people say it's a tax in disguise -- but it's not about raising revenue," Ms. Fallon said. "We want people to slow down."

In Columbia County, Capt. Morris said, deputies are most likely to catch drivers traveling at "super speeds" on Columbia Road, Belair Road, Washington Road and Interstate 20.

In Augusta, drivers are most likely to reach speeds of 85 mph on Bobby Jones Expressway and Interstate 20, said Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Richard Weaver. On two-lane roads -- where motorists only have to reach speeds of 75 mph to activate the additional fine -- violators are more widespread.

"On regular state routes you find people going 75 -- that's not a rarity," he said. "So I can see where the law would help."

Maj. Weaver said he thinks an additional fine during a time of economic hardship in the state will cause people to question their speeds.

"When you're going to hit somebody in their pockets like that, if anything is going to get them to slow down, that should," Maj. Weaver said.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.