UNIFORM PATROL DIVISION - SCHOOL SPEED ZONE CAMERA PROGRAM

School Zone Sign

    The school speed zone camera program put in use by the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, has raised questions about how they operate, who operates them, and the law regarding their operation. Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of misinformation that has created confusion about them and how the program actually operates. We are making this “FAQ” section available to you so you can receive accurate information about the program. As we get more questions that are not covered here, we will add them to the “FAQ” list.

    If you have questions about the program and how it works, please contact us. If you need legal advice regarding school speed zone cameras, any other traffic or criminal offense, or arrest, we urge you to contact a licensed, practicing, attorney with your legal questions. Please do not take any action based on social media posts or social media opinions. Exercise your rights and contact an attorney!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SCHOOL SPEED ZONE CAMERA PROGRAM

Q: Where can I view videos and photographs on my School Automated Traffic Enforcement (SATE) Case?

A: To Pay Your Civil Penalty or view the videos and photographs on your School Automated Traffic Enforcement (SATE) case, click on, or go to, https://www.violationinfo.com/ .

Q: Who put the speed zone cameras up and why?

A: Each school year we are inundated by parents who want something done to stop the speeding in school zones. Our efforts to curb speeding in school zones has included public safety and awareness announcements, high intensity patrols, and focused traffic enforcement. All have been met with very minimal success, and the problem has continued.

    While exploring options, we learned of Verra Mobility and how other agencies across the nation were utilizing them to address speeding problems. At our request, they examined our local problem of speeding in school zones. Even with school zones denoted by signage as required by law, there were hundreds of violations each day that exceeded the posted speed limit by at least 15 mph on school days and during school hours. Based on the information, the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office had the cameras installed at all schools inside Spalding County. (The City of Griffin Police Department operates their own program through Verra Mobility for schools inside the city).

    The program was installed, initiated, is monitored, evidence reviewed, and is managed by the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office through a contract with Verra Mobility. It is not the Spalding County Board of Education, School Superintendent, Spalding County Board of Commissioners, or Spalding County Manager.

    It was originally believed that since the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office had an active RADAR permit that the systems could be installed under our permit. As the process continued, it was found that the school system had to apply for the permits for the school zones. With this information, the Sheriff’s Office requested that the Griffin Spalding County School System apply for RADAR permits for the school zones. Once the permits were obtained, the process of installing the camera systems began.

Q: What information did you use to determine if the cameras were warranted?

A: The move to install the cameras was not based on traffic information that counted traffic crashes, injuries, or deaths in our school zones. It was based on complaints of speeding in school zones, our past efforts to control it, and the continued disregard for school zones even though they are clearly marked. The same program we have initiated locally is not new. It is being used by law enforcement agencies in Georgia and across the nation, and has been met with great success, and additional agencies are continually being added. Nationwide, over the past ten years, there has been a spike in pedestrian fatalities due to a combination of speeding and distracted driving. Communities are turning to automated enforcement as a means of encouraging you to follow speed limits and pay attention. Automated Enforcement is endorsed as a safety tool by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, AAA, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the National Safety Council. Slower driving saves lives. A person is about 70% more likely to be killed if they are struck by a vehicle traveling 30mph versus 25 mph. There is a 93% chance of survival if a pedestrian is struck at 20mph. Small differences in speed make a huge difference, especially in school zones.

Q: What laws allow the operation of school speed zone cameras in Spalding County?

A: The law pertaining to school speed zone cameras can be found in OCGA 40-14-18 which is mirrored by and adopted by Spalding County in Chapter 7 of Spalding County Ordinances.

Q: What roads can they be operated on?

A: The complete list of all roads, including those with school zones and times of operation approved was signed on April 18, 2022. It has since been approved by GDOT, and can be found in Spalding County Code Section 7-1002. (NOTE: This list has not been updated by Municode on their website).

Q: What times will the cameras be active?

A: The cameras will be active Monday through Friday during school days only, one hour before school starts and one hour after the school day ends. Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in Spalding County have different start times based on the type of school the zone is in. There are also zones that have both Elementary and Middle Schools present in the same zones.

The times of operation are:

Elementary Schools: Mornings from 7:00am until 8:00am, and afternoons from 2:30pm until 3:30pm.

Middle Schools
: Mornings from 7:30am until 8:30am and afternoons from 3:40pm until 4:40pm.

High Schools:
Mornings from 6:40am until 7:40am and afternoons from 3:00pm until 4:00pm.

Zones that encompass both Elementary and Middle Schools: Mornings from 7:00am until 8:30am and afternoons from 2:30pm until 4:40pm.

Monday through Friday when school is in session: After the morning school zone times end, and prior to them beginning in the afternoons, the cameras will be active enforcing the non-school zone speed limit on the roadway. This is due to the high numbers of speeders in the zones during the school day coupled with teachers, students, staff, busses, and other vehicles coming and going during those hours.

The cameras are not active 24 hours a day, on weekends, holidays, or during the summer break. If school is out, they are not active.

Q: How do the school speed zone cameras operate and issue citations?

A: Warning signs are in place before you enter the school zone warning you of its presence. Once you enter the marked school zone you are given 300 feet to reduce your speed to the school zone speed limit. After that point, if you are travelling 11 mph or more over the speed limit, a video and still photos are taken of your vehicle. The video and stills are sent to Verra Mobility for an initial review, and if a violation is noted in this first review, the information, video, and still photos are then placed in a secure que on the Verra Mobility website. A certified Deputy, who is trained on the use of the camera system, will log in, review the video and still photos, and determine if a violation has occurred. If the Deputy verifies the violation has occurred, the reviewing Deputy electronically signs it. A citation is then issued and sent to you through Verra Mobility. All reviewing Deputies have been instructed that if there is anything questionable or non-verifiable about the violation they are to err on the side of the motorist, give the vehicle the benefit of the doubt, and not issue the citation.

Q: What about the new school speed zones put in place to be enforced by this program?

A: There are no new school speed zones that have been put in place with this program. The last school zone in Spalding County was put in place almost 12 years ago. All others have been around our schools for many years. The problem is that they have just been ignored. That’s why we started this program.

Q: Am I going to get a citation if I’m going 1 mph over the speed limit?

A: No, if the school zone speed limit is speed limit is 25 mph, you won’t get cited until you reach 36 mph. For the regular posted speed limit during the day we will not issue a citation until you reach 15 mph over the regular non-school hours posted speed limit posted on that roadway.

Q: I hear that the RADARs used by this program aren't accurate at all. Is that true?

A: The enforcement program utilizes state of the art multi-dimensional radar that tracks and can monitor up to 350 cars simultaneously. The RADARs are accurate within .1 miles per hour. A detailed maintenance and testing log is maintained in accordance with state law regarding the use of photo speed detection in school zones. No tickets are issued if there is any possibility of error.

Q: Don't I have a right to have the radar tested? What about the logbooks kept on them that are used in court?

A: OCGA 40-14,-5 C-1, and C-2 state:

OCGA 40-14-5, C -1) The law enforcement agency, or agent on behalf of the law enforcement agency, operating an automated traffic enforcement safety device provided for under Code Section 40-14-18 shall maintain a log for the automated traffic enforcement safety device attesting to the performance of such device's self-test at least once every 30 days and the results of such self-test pertaining to the accuracy of the automated traffic enforcement safety device. Such log shall be admissible in any court proceeding for a violation issued pursuant to Code Section 40-14-18.

OCGA 40-14-5, C-2) The law enforcement agency, or agent on behalf of the law enforcement agency, operating an automated traffic enforcement safety device shall perform an independent calibration test on the automated traffic enforcement safety device at least once every 12 months. The results of such calibration test shall be admissible in any court proceeding for a violation issued pursuant to Code Section 40-14-18.

Q: How can I face my accuser if there are only photos taken and a video recorded?

A: A certified Deputy will review the video and still photos, determine if a violation has occurred, and if it has occurred the Deputy will electronically sign it. Each case must be reviewed and signed off on by a certified Deputy before a citation can be issued. You will face the Deputy that signed off on your citation in court as your accuser, the photos and videos are the evidence that will be used in court.

Q: Why aren’t there flashing lights to warn people at every school?

A: When we first started working on the program, I believed that by its completion, there would be flashing lights at each school zone that would be paid for through the Sheriff’s Office budget. I even stated so in public and on the record. As the program progressed and evolved, we found that the initial placement of lights would be delayed. This was due in part to the increase in our operational expenses as an agency because of the inflation that everyone is now facing. We are currently working with Spalding County Public Works and have ordered flashing lights at a cost of over $93,000.00, with a goal of having them installed at every school as soon as they arrive. As of now, new, or updated signage has been placed at every school. The signs are large, with reflective safety yellow trim. Additional signs warn of the school zone presence, where it starts, where it ends, times of operation when the reduced speed will be enforced, and that speeds are photo enforced. They are not hidden, obscured, or located where they cannot be seen. They are highly visible, and they are all well in compliance with state law. They are designed, and placed specifically to be seen even without flashing lights.

Q: Why don’t you just install “Speed Humps” in all the school zones to control speed?

A: Speed breakers or “speed humps” are not an option. They are dangerous and tend to make drivers lose control of their vehicles and crash, especially those who travel that are not familiar with our roadways, or may be travelling during inclement weather. They are not recommended by GDOT due to the danger they create, especially with vehicles going more than 15 mph over the posted speed limit, having low visibility, and being in place all the time. They also cause damage to vehicles that the county would be liable for. Several years ago, a local jurisdiction installed them at various places where speeding was an issue. Even with a public awareness campaign, and warning signs in place that said, “Speed Hump Ahead,” vehicles were damaged, still lost control, and occasionally crashed. That lasted about 6 months and they were removed.

Q: The signs and cameras won’t stop speeders. Don’t they just punish people?

A: All traffic signs including speed limit signs, yield signs, stop signs, curve ahead signs, and all other traffic signs are designed to warn people and make them aware of the law so they can follow it, and not break it. They are not put in place to punish anyone. If you run a stop sign, fail to yield, or speed, you know the chance is that there that you will get a ticket because you violated the law even after you were plainly warned. How do you not get a ticket for running a stop sign, failing to yield, or speeding? You follow the warnings given to you by the signs, and follow the law. If you see the signs that say “School Speed Zone Ahead”, Speed Zone Photo Enforced, ” School Zone 25 Miles Per Hour” trimmed in reflective yellow, times of operation, and another one that says, “Leaving School Zone”, and you still get a ticket; the problem isn’t the program, the problem is people who are not paying attention and will not obey the law. With few exceptions, school speed zones give you more warnings of their presence than “Stop” signs, “Yield” signs, or “Speed Limit” signs do.

Q: Why don’t you put officers at schools for speed enforcement? Why not use the SRO’s?

A: Spalding County is approximately 201 square miles, has a population of 66,000 people that grows beyond that every day. The Spalding County Sheriff’s Office has not had a substantial increase in manpower since before 2017, so we average 6 Deputies on the road at any given time. Couple that with an annual call volume that exceeds 30,000 calls a year. The Deputies that patrol the zones are often taken away from those duties because of their responsibilities to answer other calls for service across the county, and we do not have the manpower to have a full-time traffic enforcement unit. The SRO’s duties are on the school campuses of Middle Schools and High Schools. If they are conducting traffic stops, they are not in the schools to address in-school issues that the SRO program was designed and funded for. When an incident occurs on campus, they would not be present to address it. The question then would be, “Why wasn’t the SRO in the school where they were supposed to be when the incident occurred instead of outside writing tickets?”

Q: How much does a citation cost? What about the add on fee if you want a trial?

A: A regular citation written by an officer in a school zone is $475.00 and will count points against your license. The camera citation is a civil penalty and carries a $75.00 fine for the first offense and a $125.00 fine for each additional offense after that. The State Court administrative fee is $25.00 and applies to every citation issued regardless of a trial or not. Example: The fine for your first offense is $75.00 plus $25.00 for the State Court administrative fee. The total fine and fee would be $100.00. Further offenses are $125.00 each plus $25.00 for the State Court administrative fee. The total of the fine and fee would be $150.00 for your second and each subsequent offense.

Q: How many points does this count on my record? Will it be reported to my insurance?

A: The camera citations are a civil penalty, there are no points taken from your license, and it will not be reported on your driver’s history, or to your insurance company. If the same citation was issued by an officer, the citation would result in points against your license.

Q: What if my citation was issued in error, after school was out, at night, on a holiday, or weekend?

A: I want to clarify the dates and times you see on the citations. If you look at your citation you will see a large box of information in the middle of the page. In the top left corner of that box, there is a section that shows the date, time, and location where the offense occurred, and that it was in Spalding County. Just below the dotted line on the citation, on the right, you will see another information box with sections marked, “Notice #: “Version:” and “Issued” The date that appears in the “Issued” box is the date that the citation was reviewed by a Deputy and signed. It is not the date the offense occurred. The offense date and times are the ones listed in the top left corner of the large box. After you have reviewed this information on your citation and believe the citation was issued in error, you can call (770) 467-5455 and ask for Christina Combs. If it was in fact issued in error, it will be dismissed.

Q: What if I choose to ignore the citation and not pay it?

A: First of all, a Bench Warrant will not be issued for your arrest and your driver’s license will not be suspended as with a regular citation. On the citation, you will have a court date. You can choose to go to court to contest it, you can pay the fine, or you can choose to ignore it. If you do not show up on your court date or pay the fine, you will receive an additional notification to appear or pay the fine. If you again do not show for your new court date or pay the fine, a letter will be sent to the state and your failure to appear or pay will be noted. When you attempt to renew your vehicle tag you will not be able to do so until the fine is paid, or you attend a court date.

Q: Aren’t school zones cameras speed traps?

A: If they are, they are the worst baited traps in history. There is no other type of location, other than a construction zone, which is more clearly marked with warnings, before you enter it, than a school speed zone. They are clearly marked by signs that are large, with reflective safety yellow trim. Additional signs warn of the school zone presence, speeds are photo enforced, where the zone starts, where the zone ends, and the times of operation when the reduced speed will be enforced. They are not hidden or obscured. You are warned before you enter, and once you enter the marked school zone you have 300 feet to reduce your speed. You will only be cited once you are outside of the 300’ speed reduction zone and travelling at least 11 mph over the speed limit. Again, they are highly visible, extremely noticeable, and they are all in compliance with state law. Additionally, you are given 300 feet to reduce your speed once you enter the school speed zone before you can be cited, and 11 mph over the posted speed before being ticketed.

Q: Isn’t this just a cash grab, another tax, or a way to stuff the county’s coffers? How will the money be spent?

A: We realize the school zone cameras are not popular and face criticism. They are not cash grabs, additional taxes, or coffer stuffers. If it was a cash grab, tax, or coffer stuffer, why do you have multiple options to not receive a citation, or not have to pay a fine? You only have to pay it if you are caught speeding in school zones. The school zones are covered with signs that warn you of its presence, a 300-foot speed reduction buffer zone once you cross the school zone line so you can slow down, and no citations are written until you reach a minimum (based on whether classes are in session or not) of 11 or 15 mph over the speed limit.
    The easiest option is to just slow down when passing through a school zone. Another option is to stay away from the roads they cover during school hours. People slowing down or reducing traffic congestion around schools, accomplish the goal of student and staff safety. When you follow the posted speed limit through any school zone in Spalding County it literally takes less than a minute to get from one end to the other. If it were indeed a cash grab, or coffer stuffer, I would pay overtime to have deputies in every zone, every day, to sit and do nothing but write tickets. By Georgia law, any funds derived from the program are required to be used for law enforcement. I have already said that if funds are generated, they will be used for enhancement and expansion of safety programs at our schools, the SRO program through training and equipment, additional training for Deputies, and other equipment and enhancements to help keep our county safer.

Q: What can I do to avoid a ticket or not have to pay a fine?

A: There are several ways to avoid a citation or fine. The first and easiest way is to slow down when passing through a school zone. Even if you are unsure if the cameras are operating, it never hurts to slow down while driving near a school. Second, you can find a secondary route to travel that bypasses the school zones. This will accomplish the goal by reducing traffic congestion near the schools. Third, there is an affidavit you can submit entitled, “Affidavit of Non-Responsibility”. This affidavit allows you to waive payment of a fine if:

    1. You have sold the vehicle. You must provide a copy of the bill of sale, or insurance cancellation where the vehicle was taken off of your policy, and provide the new owner’s name and address accompanied by the affidavit.

    2. If the vehicle was cited by an officer on the same day and at the same time as the camera captured it. You must include a copy of the officer issued citation along with the affidavit.

    3. Your tag was stolen. A copy of the police report must be submitted with your affidavit.

    4. You rented or leased the vehicle to another person. You must include a copy of the agreement and complete driver’s name and address, with your affidavit.

     5. The vehicle was in the care, custody, or control of another person who you list in the spaces provided on the affidavit itself and submit it.

Q: Aren’t the pictures and video taken an invasion of my privacy?

A: Consider how many cameras you pass every day. Security cameras on businesses and houses, doorbell cameras that video roadways, people taking videos and photographs in businesses, restaurants, in yards, parking lots and other places with phones, and many other places where cameras are located in our lives. Think about the photos and videos you have on your own phone, camera, or security systems where people you don’t know are standing or driving in the background. As long as you are in a public place, and a roadway is a public place, photographs and video can be taken without violating your right to privacy.

Q: What if officers speed through them? Will they get citations too?

A: The same standard of accountability applies to both me and my Deputies as it will to any other motorist. If we speed through a school zone while not acting in our official compacity, we will get citations just like anybody else, myself included. Some have already received, and paid citations issued by the cameras.


If you have additional questions you would like to have answered, please contact Christina Combs at (770) 467-5455, or email your questions to ccombs@SpaldingCounty.com.