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Little known traffic laws

Little known traffic laws
By Dave Emanuel

As you’re driving along a two-lane street in an unfamiliar area, you pay close attention to the speed limit signs, not wanting to receive another fast driving award. You notice a sign that proclaims 35 miles per hour to be the limit.

A short distance past the sign, you arrive at an intersection and of course, the light is red. When it turns green, you proceed through into the intersection and turn onto the crossing four-lane highway. You drive a short distance, but don’t notice a speed limit sign, so you think, “A four-lane highway, in a commercial area, the speed limit is probably 45.” Then you notice a car with flashing blue lights behind you. Do you think he is going to pull you over for speeding?

Probably. And if you go to court, you’ll probably find that the judge won’t agree with your “not guilty” plea. In the absence of a speed limit sign, the law states that you must obey the last posted limit you passed, even if it isn’t on the same roadway you were traveling when you were stopped for speeding.

It’s not unusual for there to be a considerable distance between an intersection and a speed limit sign. And while it might seem that the limit posted on the other side of the intersection would be in effect, such is not the case. There was recently a case in which a driver heading south on a two lane road turned east onto a four-lane highway and received a speeding ticket. The driver subsequently drove several miles west of the intersection, turned around and drove east looking for speed limit signs. The last one he saw posted the limit at 45, so he reasoned that 45 was the limit and therefore he should not have received a ticket.

In fact, there had been a 35 mile per hour sign near the intersection, but it had been knocked down, and was not visible. However, that point is irrelevant because the last speed limit sign you pass, whether it’s on the road on which you’re currently driving, or the one from which you turned at an intersection, is established the maximum speed you can legally travel.

With regard to speed limits, it’s widely known that in Georgia, local (city and county) law enforcement cannot issue speeding tickets for any speed less than 11 miles over the posted limit. What isn’t widely known is that there are exceptions to this law. According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, (OCGA) “(b) The limitations contained in subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply in properly marked school zones one hour before, during, and one hour after the normal hours of school operation, in properly marked historic districts, and in properly marked residential zones. For purposes of this chapter, thoroughfares with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or more shall not be considered residential districts. For purposes of this Code section, the term “historic district” means a historic district as defined in paragraph (5) of Code Section 44-10-22 and which is listed on the Georgia Register of Historic Places or as defined by ordinance adopted pursuant to a local constitutional amendment.”

Consequently, if you’re travelling one mile per hour over the limit in a school zone, or any area in which the posted limit is less than 35 miles per hour, local law enforcement officers can give you a speeding ticket. And note- the law applies only to the use of speed detection devices. 

As a general rule, most agencies allow some amount of leeway and will not write a ticket for speeds of one or two miles over the limit. However, that’s not a rule you can “take to the bank”, unless you do your banking in court.

Georgia recently passed a move-over law as a means of preventing deaths and injuries cause be vehicles hitting police officers and other emergency workers. The law, which should be widely known, but apparently is not, requires drivers to move over for all emergency vehicles (not just police cars) stopped on the side of the road. If traffic prevents a driver from moving over, the law requires slowing to 10 MPH below the speed limit. (It’s also a good idea, and just common sense to move over or slow down for ANY vehicle parked on the side of the road.) Think of how you would feel if you had to change a tire on your vehicle while cars were flying by just a few feet away. 

Dave Emanuel is Vice President of Random Technologies, a manufacturing company in Loganville, and a Snellville City Councilman. To read more from Dave Emanuel visit