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Obey Your Traffic Laws (From The Five Minute Money Manager)

A co-worker of mine recently came into work with one of those viral emails that stated that our local law enforcement was going to pull over one driver for every hour they worked for various traffic violations starting in the month of September. The message stated that the government would raise $8 million in revenues based on this project.

I immediately dismissed the whole thing as a bunch of crap, and teased her about it for the next several days.

As it turns out, there may have been some truth to the matter. I did notice more police officers in my part of town, and sure enough, I was recently pulled over and cited for not wearing my seat belt.

Before I go on, let me tell you for the record that I wear my seatbelt 99.99% of the time. I was late for an appointment and just forgot to put it on. They stopped me less than a quarter of a mile from my home. I was unlucky.

After I got home later, I looked it up and found out that it was only a $15 fine. Not that this amount has much to do with this post, but I found it quite odd that a violation for not wearing a seat belt was only $15.

It actually made me think that if more people knew that it was only a $15 fine, then possibly, less people would actually wear their seat belt. Fifteen dollars just doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent to me.

But then I also got to thinking that if I really knew what the fines were for some other traffic laws that I have been known to “bend” in the past, then it might motivate me to adhere more to these laws.

I decided to do some research. This is what I was able to find out for my jurisdiction of Atlanta, GA:

  • Speeding Tickets: There is no set amount, but the average amount per ticket is between $145 and $325. I would love to hear in our comment section how this ranks among other states because to me, it’s steep! But of course, maybe that’s good because it’s quite a deterrent.
  • Running a Red Light: A whopping $70 for running a red-light.
  • Not Wearing Seat Belt: As stated, a mere $15.
  • Talking On Cell Phone: What I learned here was very interesting. Talking on your cell phone while driving in and of itself is not a crime in Atlanta (unless you’re under 18), however, doing this while committing another violation is. So, basically, Georgia has bypassed waiting for the actual law to pass. The fine is $150.

Georgia also introduced the Super Speeder Law at the beginning of this year. Basically, it means that if you are caught driving over 75 MPH on any two-lane road, then you will be hit with an additional $200 fine. Two hundred dollars. They can also tack this on if caught going over 85 MPH anywhere. So, “super speeders” beware.

So What’s The Point?

Given all this information, it makes sense for you to take the time to figure out the penalties for violating various traffic laws. After all, why find out the hard way? If you don’t follow the speed limit, but you find out that doing so could cost you $200, then wouldn’t you want to know on the front end so you can re-think the way that you drive? Or if you like to talk on your cell phone, but don’t know that the fine is $150, then you’re never likely to stop, right?

All I can say is this. I’ve been known to creep a little over the speed limit from time to time, but no more. All the other stuff I never really stepped over the line on because safety, or the lack thereof, was a big enough deterrent, but you can forget about me speeding again.

Would knowing the penalties for certain traffic law violations act as a deterrent for you? As always, your comment and suggestions are appreciated.

photo credit: 98706376@N00)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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