EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – A Columbia County family wants court officials to take another look at speeding fines assessed from a traffic violation. Parents of a teenager told NewsChannel 6 their daughter was slapped with a speeding ticket fine higher than what most people normally see.
Eight months after getting a license, Talia Harvey is dealing with not just a speeding ticket, but a very pricey one.
“I kind of misjudged how fast I was going,” the teen explained. “I really wasn’t thinking.”
Harvey told us she was leaving work in Columbia County when it all happened. NewsChannel 6 obtained her traffic citation. It shows that on Friday, April 14, Georgia State Patrol pulled Harvey over just before 11:30 p.m. on Washington Road and Woodbridge Drive. A trooper clocked her at 74 miles per hour going through a construction zone in an area where drivers should be going 35 maximum.
Harvey said she simply didn’t realize how fast she was going as she approached the work area.
“What’s going to happen next? That was my first thought because I didn’t know. I really didn’t know.”
What Harvey also didn’t know was the cost of her experience on the road that night. She owes Columbia County a total of $3,170. A fee her father told us is outrageous since his daughter is a student who has never been in trouble.
“I agree with the state law taking her license,” he said explaining that his daughter’s license was suspended for six months. “I wish that someone could come back and change this law. That’s kind of a stiff penalty for a 17-year-old that’s in the 12th grade.”
The $3,170 ticket break down includes a $1,937.06 base fee for the actual ticket, around $700 in court costs and more than $500 in probation fees, an option Talia Harvey chose so she could pay $300 a month.
“[She has] A gang of senior dues and things that she has to get ready for college and everything that’s coming up for her to come out and pay $300 a moth for 12 months. The only option she has from that is to do 365 hours of community service and if she doesn’t complete 10 hours within a week or 40 hours within a month she has the option of going to jail,” Jerry Harvey explained.
His daughter agrees, adding that she does work, but her check just is not enough to make the payments and live.
“I don’t make enough to still survive,” she said. “I’m going to slow down. I am”
Georgia Code also states that on top of the max fine of $2,000, a person speeding in a work zone can be put in prison. I spoke with Georgia State Patrol and a Sergeant there tells me he believes the trooper used his discretion to be a little more lenient and not add a reckless driving charge that would have caused her to be arrested.
The Harvey family paid its first installment of $300 June 5, but they are hoping to talk with officials in hopes of reconsidering.
Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins