Pricier driver’s license reinstatement fees go into effect July 1, but the extra $200 fines for Georgia’s “super speeders” won’t be charged until early next year.
When the new fines, recently approved by the Georgia Legislature, take effect, they won’t be paid with the rest of the traffic ticket. They’ll be collected separately, with notification often coming weeks after the court date for the ticket, when the usual fine still must be paid.
These super-speeder fines will kick in for drivers caught traveling more than 75 mph on two-lane roads or 85 mph on any road. It’s part of an effort to raise money for Georgia’s trauma network, the system of emergency rooms and ambulance services called upon for the worst accident injuries.
State leaders hope a public subsidy will convince hospitals to keep their high-cost emergency operations running and that eventually new services can shorten the time it takes to get rural patients to a trauma center.
Though law enforcement likely will tell motorists about the increased fines, formal notice will come from the state’s Department of Driver Services. The DDS will have to wait for local officials to send it notice of the ticket, which is supposed to be done within 10 days of the ticket being paid or a court conviction, DDS spokeswoman Susan Sports said.
Then the department has 30 days to notify the driver of the additional fine by mail, and the driver has 90 days to pay it. If the fine isn’t paid by then, the driver’s license will be suspended, Sports said.
“Please keep your address current,” Sports said.
The new speeding fines and increased fees to reinstate a suspended license are expected to generate about $23 million a year.
The speeding fines won’t be implemented until Jan. 1 because the state must print new traffic tickets, adding a box to indicate whether the ticket was written on a two-lane road or a larger highway, Sports said.
Even though the money won’t start flowing for a while, the state is expected to give the appointed commission in charge of spending it an advance to dole out to hospitals and ambulance services, said Dennis Ashley, who heads up The Medical Center of Central Georgia’s trauma program and is chairman of the state trauma commission.
The commission already has split up about $59 million in state dollars, spreading it among existing hospitals and EMS providers last year. Eventually, supporters would like to see upward of $80 million doled out each year, though so far Gov. Sonny Perdue’s super-speeder program has been the only fundraising effort that legislators have agreed to.
The commission, which met Thursday in Macon, is considering several potential uses for the super-speeder money. The state’s EMS and trauma office, which sets emergency care standards and inspects ambulance services, is “woefully understaffed,” according to a recent study by the American College of Surgeons, Ashley said. Commission members are talking about a statewide transfer system to triage patients across the state, making sure they’re sent to the correct hospital, he said.
In some ways the commission is still in startup mode. Members spent some of last week’s meeting talking about designs for a logo, which would be turned into a decal that can be placed on ambulances for which the commission approves funding. They also talked about hiring a company to build the commission’s Web site.
Ashley said the commission will try to keep costs for this kind of thing to a minimum. He said the commission wants to mark the ambulances it funds, though, since they’re being allocated on a county-by-county basis and need to be tracked.
The commission approved funding for 56 new ambulances last year for rural counties.
Some ambulances in those areas had 350,000 miles on them, Ashley said.
To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.