New Traffic Violations Bureau to lower fines, speed up process in Richmond County

News 12 at 11 / Friday, November 15, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Patrols are going up, but soon many fines will be going down.

"Yesterday the judges in the state court issued a court order that instituted what is known as a Traffic Violations Bureau," said Maj. Gene Maxwell, Asst. Chief of Police for GRU Public Safety.

It's a change that will allow drivers who get minor traffic violations to bypass court and simply pay a fine.

"They'll have the ability to pay it ahead of time and you can pay it online," Maxwell explained.

Richmond County has already issued more than 10,000 speeding tickets this year, and GRU plans to ramp up its patrols on pedestrian safety.

"We're aggressively patrolling and aggressively enforcing pedestrian safety law," Maxwell said.

That means more tickets for the court system to filter through.

"It's added a rather large burden to the state Solicitor's Office,so this will help free up some of those people and speed the process up," Maxwell said.

Come January first, several offenses can be handled through the new bureau, freeing up the court system and saving the person who got the ticket some time and money.

"The added benefit to pleading guilty and agreeing not to fight the ticket and pay the fine is the fines are reduced," Maxwell said.

A ticket for violating a pedestrian's right of way in the crosswalk used to be a $280 fine. Starting next year, that fine will be cut in half to $141.50. A judge tells News 12 all the fines have been reduced by at least 50 dollars.

"The fines are cheaper. It's easier. It's more convenient. It's unfortunate you got a ticket, but once you get past the fact you got a ticket, you've got to deal with it, and this makes it easier to do that," Maxwell said.

This new process will also downgrade the violation from a misdemeanor charge, and instead, treat it like a minor infraction.
This is only for those who don't want to fight the ticket. If you want to plead not guilty, you will still have to go to court to fight it.

With every ticket, an officer will hand out an informational sheet explaining where to go and how to use the new Traffic Violations Bureau.

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