'Super Speeder' rule surprises Florida drivers

Drivers busted driving too fast in Georgia required to pay extra fine

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter , Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - Drivers passing through the state of the Georgia say there is nothing peachy about being labeled a "Super Speeder" and required to pay an extra fine. 

"I thought it was a joke. I thought it was someone trying to scam me to get some money", said Todd Gray, an Orange Park man who was required to pay the state of Georgia not once but twice.

"OK, I was speeding. I paid the fine. But a week after that they want $200 more, and if I don't pay that it's an additional $50  because they suspend my license," said Gray.

Gray was cited for driving 86 mph in a 70 mph zone in Darien, Ga, it wasn't until after he paid the $200 ticket that he says he was informed he was labeled a "Super Speeder" and required to pay $200 more.

"They didn't even tell me when they pulled me over, to say you are a "Super Speeder," said Gray.

Law enforcement in Georgia  say a "Super Speeder" is someone caught driving more than 75 mph on a two lane road, or more than 85 mph on a four-lane road like Interstate 95. But the law which was created in 2010 wasn't only designed with public safety in mind.  In fact, police admit money was the key component. Tickets have funneled more than $120 million into the state of Georgia's revenue in 4 years, according to state statistics.

"The legislature was looking for funding for the trauma center, and they came up with this program to convict people driving at a high rate of speed," explained Lisa Schulte, who works for the Darien Police Department.

Schulte says offices giving out the citations sometimes say nothing about the "Super Speeder" law, which is a surprise for drivers later on down the road.

"There's a saying in the judicial circuit that ignorance is not a plea, they do know that they are speeding. It isn't until after drivers pay the ticket that the realize they have to shell out more cash" said Schulte.

What most drivers passing through the state of Georgia don't realize is that when they pay that speeding ticket, they are essentially admitting they are guilty of being a super speeder according to Georgia law.

"We get calls from people from Hawaii, California, New york, all over the country really" said traffic attorney Don Forsythe.

He says the cost of the tickets vary depending on the county your pulled over in. For instance in Liberty County, driving more than 35 miles over the speed limit it will cost you $1,509, plus a $200 "Super Speeder" fee.

In McIntosh County, it's $1,400 for what many states consider reckless driving. And in Darien, nearly $800 plus a "Super Speeder" fee.

"A lot of times for the sake of convenience, a local attorney whose familiar with it can help you avoid a costly trip to Georgia, and having it reported on your license" said Forsythe.

Attorneys say "Super Speeder" citations are hard to fight, but in most cases attorneys can get the penalties reduced.

But for Gray, he says it's a matter of principle.

"This is a rip off. They say it's for this project. Find another means of making your money instead of ripping people off," said Gray.

Gray wants the state of Georgia to be up front about the total cost of the ticket instead of catching speeders by surprise.

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