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Myths About School ZoneCameras

 Given the misinformation being spread about these cameras and the legal process tied to them, it is a good time to review what the law is — and what it is not.

Myth No. 1: You can only get a ticket if the lights are flashing.

Not in the City of Canton. The area designated as a school zone is a school zone for the entire school day. The flashing lights only alert drivers to the fact that the speed limit is lowered for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. If you are going 11 mph over the speed limit — whatever the limit happens to be during that part of the school day — you will receive a ticket.

Myth No. 2: The City of Canton made this up.

The speed cameras in school zones were not available to local jurisdictions, city or county, until the Georgia State Legislature created the program in 2018. Sen. Brandon Beach sponsored the bill.

After conducting traffic studies at each school location, the City of Canton learned that there were hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of speeders flying through school zones each day. That information led the City to address the problem by adopting the State Legislature approved speed cameras in school zones.

Myth No. 3: These citations are just like a speeding ticket written by a police officer.

Not at all. If a police officer writes a ticket for speeding, the potential penalty is a fine or incarceration. Because of that, you are entitled to due process rights, such as a formal arraignment, cross examination of witnesses, and a jury trial. A violation of a criminal ordinance puts you squarely in the criminal justice system.

The speed camera tickets are not criminal offenses. The State Legislature created a civil penalty for people caught speeding in the school zones by these cameras. Because it is a civil process, the rules are very different from the criminal process. No arraignment. No jury trial. Since it is not a criminal action, you cannot be incarcerated based on a speed-camera citation.

Simply put, if the car is caught speeding, the citation will issue as a fine.

Fact: This system is the fairest and safest tool to address speeding.

Every car that is speeding gets a citation. There is no opportunity for discretion on the part of the officer. "Why did they pull me over and not the other guy?" That question is moot — now you both get a speeding citation.

Even more importantly, this is safer for the officer and the driver. Every traffic stop carries with it a risk. The driver may be worried about the officer's conduct, and the officer may be worried about the driver's conduct. By removing the personal interaction, there is no opportunity for a traffic stop to go sideways for either party.

Slower speeds, safer drivers, protected officers, and increased revenue — by every measure, this program is a success for Canton.
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