Monday, January 25, 2010

Florida $1000 speeding ticket / Florida One Thousand Dollar Ticket

What cracks me up is that most people will end up here because they just got one of these horrendous things.  I had a client with two of them at the same time, on the same traffic stop.  This can only happen on a motorcycle.  The $1000.00 fine imposed by the Florida legislature does not only effect those people who think it is a good idea to go 50 mph over the speed limit, but also Motorcyclists (and god forbid, moped riders).  The statutory road map to the $1000.00 fine is somewhat confusing, so let me try to to make it easier for you.

It all starts out with Fla. Stat 316.1926  which contains section (1) and section (2). Section (1) contains punishment for Motorcyclists and Moped Riders.  Section (2) contains punishment for people who travel more than 50 mph on the roads of the state of Florida, still no mention of $1000.00 fine.

I have gotten a few of these $1000.00 tickets dismissed because the statute that actually mentions the fine, section 318.14(13)(a) states "A person cited for a violation of s. 316.1926 shall, in addition to any other requirements provided in this section, pay a fine of $1,000." (emphasis added)  The officers have not yet fully gotten around to all citing people for violations of 316.1926, but instead citing them for violations of sections 316.2085 or 316.183 or 187 or 189 instead.  I have even seen a clerks memorandum regarding this (that I was told was written because I had just won a case on the matter), and they correctly commented about the speeding, but incorrectly commented about how to cite the motorcycle statute. 

Section (1) of 316.1926 references another statute, Fla. Stat 316.2805 sections (2) or (3).  The typical reason officers cite an individual with a violation of section (2) is for what I like to call "popping a wheelie" but I'm sure that crotch rocket riders have a better name for it by now because writing the phrase "popping a wheelie" makes me feel like an old man. Also, however, standing up on the seat of a motorcycle can be one of these tickets, and also riding side saddle, if that's even possible.

This $1000.00 punishment is harsh on Motorcyclists and only applies to them.  Well, them and moped riders, but the truth is, if you are popping wheelies or riding side saddle on a moped, you deserve a $1000.00 ticket.  Defenses to popping wheelies are included in the language of the statute.  "It is not a violation ... if the wheels .. lose contact with the ground briefly due to ..circumstances beyond the control of the operator."

Section (2) of Fla. Stat 316.2805 is, as far as I am concerned, an issue which is worth challenging. I personally have fought this and written memorandum in support of the unconstitutionality of this section.  This statute concerns the permanent placement of motorcycle license plates and was amended in 2009 and substituted the language of "to the vehicle" for "horizontally to the ground" and thus vertical license plates on motorcycles (standard for many factory makes) are no longer subject to the $1000.00 fine.

However, the case where I challenged the constitutionality of this section was the vagueness and selective nature of the terms "The license tag of a motorcycle or moped must be permanently affixed to the vehicle and may not be adjusted or capable of being flipped up."

In my memorandum arguing against the constitutionality of the statute (I was fighting a case where a guy had a license plate that was capable of being bent due to the mounting bracket under his seat) I invoked the name of a philosopher by the name of Mavrodes who asked, "Can God make a stone he cannot lift?"  I know, it's cheesy to include such comments in a legal memorandum, and who in their right mind knows Mavrodes or the paradox of the stone?   But the ticket was dismissed based on the memorandum.

Any license tag may be adjusted.  Any license on a motorcycle is capable of being "flipped up."  All you need is the right tools.  Poor legislative drafting, if you ask me.

Finally, we get to 316.1926(2), or speeding 50 mph or over in violation of 316.183(2), s. 316.187, or s. 316.189 .  Not much is different here.  My own belief is that this law was enacted to counterbalance the fact that the Florida racing law was declared unconstitutional in State v. Wells.  The Florida racing law is still on the books, but it has been 5 months or more since I've heard that anyone has been charged under the racing law.

I am not going to go into the standard defenses of speeding tickets, but they are all the same in these cases involving the $1000.00 ticket. 

Georgia Super Speed Laws \ Georgia Super Speeder Laws

Georgia's legislature has decided to implement a Super Speeder Law (which means nothing but increased fines) and decided to launch this website for the occasion.  According to the simple terms of the website, any individual convicted of going more than 75 mph on a two lane road (regular highway) will see an increase of $200.00 over the local counties fines.  Any individual convicted of going more than 85 mph on an interstate will see an increase of $200.00 as well.

The odd language of the statute ( O.C.G.A. section 40-6-189) also states that "Such a driver, upon conviction, shall be classified as a "super speeder.""  What the purpose of this "classification" is at the moment is somewhat of a mystery, but perhaps it can cause increased insurance rates or special classifications at the Georgia Department of Driver Services, especially for drivers from other states. Without any sort of desire to punish this classification by including this language, the inclusion of the term "super speeder" would be similar to a murder statute ending with "And if a person is convicted under this statute, this person shall be classified as a MURDERER."

Georgia, unlike a number of other states, has lower rates than other surrounding states (such as my home state of Florida).  And Florida's $1000.00 speeding tickets (fees of which actually approach $1500.00) are still going strong.  However, 85 in a 70 mile per hour zone is only 15 mph over.  Our $1000.00 fines are for 50 mph over.  Oh, and also for having a wiggly license plate.

I have not heard horror stories of people convicted under the Super Speeder law yet, but from what I read, they will give you a citation which you will pay in a Georgia county.  If you decide to pay such ticket without hiring a lawyer or challenging it yourself in court, they will then send you a bill for $200.00.   If they truly implement this method of collecting a fee, it could be subject to constitutional challenge, as it may be considered to be Double Jeopardy.  (Conviction, Paid a Fine, and then Subjected to Another Fine) 

Here is the language of the new law:

§ 40-6-189.  (Effective January 1, 2010) Classification as super speeder; fees; funding for trauma care system.

   (a) As used in this Code section, the term "department" means the Department of Driver Services.

(b) In addition to any other fines or penalties imposed by any local jurisdiction or the department, the department shall administer and collect a fee of $200.00 from any driver who is convicted of driving at a speed of 85 miles per hour or more on any road or highway or 75 miles per hour or more on any two-lane road or highway, as defined in Code Section 40-6-187. Such a driver, upon conviction, shall be classified as a "super speeder."

(c) The department shall notify offenders of the imposition of a fee under this Code section within 30 days after receipt of a qualifying ticket and notice of conviction. Failure to pay the fee imposed by this Code section within 90 days after receipt of the notice shall result in the suspension of the driver's license or driving privileges of the offender, and, in addition to the existing fees and penalties, a fee of $50.00 shall be assessed, payable upon the application for reinstatement of the driver's license or driving privileges. Notice shall be provided by the department to the offender by first-class mail to the address shown on the records of the department. Such mailed notice shall be adequate notification of the fee imposed by this Code section and of the offender's ability to avoid a driver's license suspension by paying the fee prior to the effective date of the suspension. No other notice shall be required to make the driver's license suspension effective.

(d) The department shall be authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this Code section.

(e) All fees collected under the provisions of this Code section shall be deposited in the general fund of this state with the intent that these moneys be used to fund a trauma care system in Georgia and the direct and indirect costs associated with the administration of this Code section. The Office of Treasury and Fiscal Services shall separately account for all of the moneys received under the provisions of this Code section.