Small Georgia City Tops List of Traffic Fines in Atlanta

October 22, 2014

A five-year analysis of tickets issued in Georgia shows that Doraville – a small suburban Atlanta city – has issued the most traffic fines per capita in metro Atlanta.

Doraville City Manager Shawn Gillen told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the police department’s traffic enforcement is reasonable considering traffic volume on major arteries connecting the city to metro Atlanta.

Interstate 285, Buford Highway and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard all cut through Doraville and carry more than 363,000 vehicles daily according to estimates from the state Department of Transportation.

Doraville – a city of roughly 10,600 – collected nearly $9 million in traffic fines between 2008 and 2012. Meanwhile, Roswell – a city of 94,000 – collected the same amount during the same time period. Roswell’s 143 police officers issued 11,435 citations in 2013 compared with 14,560 that were issued in Doraville by a police force that’s roughly one-third the size of Roswell’s.

Doraville Police Chief John King said he’s aware of the city’s reputation as a ticket trap and has abolished the department’s traffic unit to have officers spend more time on neighborhood policing. Drivers aren’t ticketed in Doraville unless they’re going more than 20 mph above the limit, King said.

Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Frank Rotondo, said traffic fines exceeding 10 percent of a local government’s revenue could be seen as an indicator that the municipality is too reliant on fine income.

The newspaper reported that ticket income was used to fund 17 percent of Doraville’s government in 2012, 18 percent in Lithonia, 15 percent in Jonesboro, 14 percent in Riverdale and 12 percent in Avondale Estates, according to data from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Rotondo said he wouldn’t be surprised to learn that ticket traps still exist in some areas of Georgia, but added that they were more likely to be found in smaller towns and counties.

Police departments aren’t required to report income generated from speeding tickets, but special audits can be performed when someone complains to the Georgia Department of Public Safety about dubious speed enforcement methods.

The newspaper reported that the department has investigated complaints against 183 law enforcement agencies since 2007. The department has suspended departments’ speed detection operations seven times.

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