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Georgia Speeding Laws

Donald Singleton
September 18, 2022

Speeding laws vary widely across the United States. While some states do not have specific speed limits, others set limits based on road conditions. For example, Georgia does not have a limit for speeds above 55 mph, but it does have a limit of 65 mph for roads with posted signs indicating that the speed limit is 45 mph or less. Other states have no special limits, while still others have different limits depending on whether you are traveling on highways, interstates, or local streets.

Too Fast For Conditions

In 1985, the Georgia Supreme Court held that a police officer did not violate OCGA § 40-6-181(a)(1), which prohibits driving at a speed greater than reasonable and prudent under the circumstances when he stopped a driver for speeding. In doing so, however, the court established some important principles regarding what constitutes a violation of the statute.

The defendant argued that his conduct was justified because he had been following another vehicle too closely, and therefore, there was no evidence that he exceeded the posted speed limit. He further contended that the officer lacked probable cause to stop him because the officer did not witness him exceed the speed limit.

The court rejected both arguments. First, the court determined that the defendant’s contention that he was following too close to the car ahead of him was irrelevant. Instead, the court focused on whether the officer had probable cause to believe that the defendant had violated OCGA § 40-4-5, which prohibited exceeding the speed limit. The court found that the officer did have such probable cause, since the defendant testified that he had seen the car in front of him slow down, indicating that the defendant could reasonably assume that the car was slowing down because it intended to make a left turn into an apartment complex.

Second, the court held that even though the officer did not observe the defendant actually exceeding the speed limit, the officer still had probable cause to believe the defendant was violating OCGA § 40-3-21, which makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle without due caution and circumspection. The court reasoned that the fact that the defendant was speeding indicated that he was not exercising due caution and circumspection since he was obviously aware of the dangers posed by speeding.


Speeding below Maximum Limits

Drivers who are caught speeding can face fines up to $1,500 and points on their licenses. If you’re convicted of violating Georgia law, you could also lose your license for six months.

In addition, drivers can be charged with a misdemeanor offense under O.C.G.A. § 40-4-104(a)(3). This provision states that it is illegal to “drive a vehicle upon a highway carelessly and heedless of the consequences.” A conviction for careless driving carries a fine of no less than $100 and no more than $1,000.

The third way to charge someone with a violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-185 is reckless driving. Under this section, a person can be charged with reckless driving if he or she drives recklessly in a manner that endangers the life, limb, health, property, or safety of another person. Reckless driving is punishable by a maximum fine of $2,500 and a possible jail sentence of one year.

Speeding above Maximum Limits

The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 513 during the 2017 legislative session. This bill amended OCGA § 40-6-180(a), which states: “No person shall operate a motor vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.” Section 2 of the bill added subsection (c) to section 180, stating: “(c) In addition to the foregoing provisions of this Code section, every driver of a commercial motor vehicle shall comply with the following requirements:… (5) If operating a commercial motor vehicle, the operator shall maintain control of his/her vehicle within five hundred feet of the roadway edge line except when passing another vehicle or when preparing to make a left turn.”

This law goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

Posted Limits

The most effective way to find out what’s legal is to look at the posted limits. If you see a sign saying “posted limits 75 mph,” it doesn’t mean that the limit is actually 75 miles per hour. Some states don’t post speed limits at all; others put them up once every 30 miles.

If there are no posted limits, check with your local police department or state highway patrol office. They might know about local laws.

Unposted Limits

Georgia law allows drivers to travel up to five miles over posted speed limits without being charged with speeding. But what happens when there aren’t any signs?

O.C.G. A. § 40-6 -181 states that “no person shall operate a vehicle upon any street or highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when overtaking and passing another vehicle.”

However, the state code does provide exceptions. In certain circumstances, Georgia drivers can exceed posted speed limits. For example, a driver traveling less than 25 mph can pass a school bus stopped for children crossing the road. Drivers must yield to emergency vehicles responding to emergencies. And drivers may exceed the posted speed limit while traveling on rural roads with no posted limits.

But what about those situations where there are no signs indicating the speed limit? What happens when a driver travels 5 miles above the posted limit?

That’s the question facing a man in Gwinnett County, Georgia. He was driving along Hwy 903 near Norcross in December 2017. Police say he drove his car at a high rate of speed, causing him to lose control and crash into several trees.

The man survived, but police arrested him for reckless driving. His lawyer says the officer didn’t know how fast the man was going because there weren’t any signs limiting his speed.

So, did the man violate Georgia law? Or did the officer misinterpret the law?

What Is The Process for Establishing Speed Limits?

The Georgia Code provides several methods for establishing speed limits. A county or municipality can establish a speed limit by ordinance. If there are no ordinances, the department of transportation or state police can issue a temporary emergency regulation. If neither method applies, the code allows the commissioner of public safety to adopt a permanent emergency regulation.

In the case where a county or municipal government does not want to enact an ordinance, it can request permission from the commissioner of public safety. This process requires the following steps:

  1. The governing body of the county or city submits a petition requesting a speed limit reduction.
  2. The petition includes a detailed description of the roadways involved, the proposed speed limit, and the reasons why the speed limit needs to be changed.
  3. The petition must include a map showing the location of the affected roads and intersections.
  4. The petition must contain a statement indicating that the governing body understands that the speed limit cannot exceed the posted limit.
  5. The petition must be signed by the mayor or president of the governing body.


Speeding Law

The law regarding speeding in Georgia is straightforward. Speeding is illegal, regardless of whether it causes injury or death. Under OCGA § 40-6-181(a), “No person shall exceed the maximum lawful speed limits.” However, there are exceptions to the general rule. For example, under OCGA § 40-5-121(b)(1), “o person shall operate a motor vehicle…without due regard for the safety of persons or property,” and OCGA § 40-8-76 provides that “he operator of every vehicle upon a roadway divided into three lanes… shall drive a such vehicle as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane….” In addition, OCGA § 40-3-35(c) states that “f the speed of a vehicle being operated upon a highway exceeds the applicable limit specified in Code Section 40-6-180, such speed shall be prima facie evidence that the driving… was done without reasonable consideration for the safety of persons and property.”

In light of these provisions, the question arises as to what constitutes a “material element” of the crime of speeding. A material element is one whose absence renders the charge legally insufficient. See OCGA § 16-1-7; see also OCGA § 17-7-54 (“A criminal accusation cannot be maintained unless it appears that the defendant committed some material element of the offense beyond mere technical or formal defects.”)

There is no dispute that the statutory presumption set forth in OCGA § 40-4-49(e) applies here. Moreover, although the statute itself does not define “material element,” we find guidance in our decisions construing similar statutes. For instance, in Smith v. State, 241 Ga.App. 807, 809(1), 528 S.E.2di 912 (2000), we held that “he failure to prove a material element of the crime, i.e., that the victim sustained serious bodily injury, is fatal to a conviction.” We reached this conclusion even though the indictment had been amended during the trial to include the requisite allegation. Id.; see also Johnson v. State, 238 Ga. 59, 61(3), 230 S.E.2da 733 (1976) (“he omission of a material element of the crimes charged is a fatal defect requiring reversal.”). Similarly, in Williams v. State, 232 Ga.App. 498, 501(2), 502 S.E.2db 685 (1998), we found that the failure to allege that the defendant acted with malice was a fatal error, despite the fact that malice was impliedly contained in the language of the indictment. Id.

Here, the indictment did not contain any allegations concerning the material elements of the offense of speeding. Accordingly, the conviction must be reversed.

Citation Requirements

O.C.G. A. § 40-6 – 187(a)(1) states that any person who violates a traffic regulation in Chapter 6 of Title 40 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Subsection (b) provides that upon conviction, the offender shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 30 days nor more than one year, by a fine of $100.00, or both. If the offense occurs within three miles of the Georgia state line, the offender shall be subject to additional penalties.

Subsection (c) provides that the court shall impose a penalty of no less than $10.00 nor more than $25.00 for each mile per hour over the posted speed limit. In addition, subsection (d) provides that the court may assess a fine of up to $500.00 for each day during which such violation continues.

The statute does not require that the citation contain any information regarding the speed at which the accused drove or the maximum speed limit where he/she allegedly violated the law. However, it does provide that the court “shall find” the specific amount by which a person exceeds the speed limit. This requirement is mandatory; therefore, the court cannot make such a finding unless the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime charged.

How is Speed Established?

For the police officer to establish a vehicle’s speed, the State must establish the foundation. This includes how the officer determined the speed of the vehicle, what equipment he or she had access to, and whether there was enough evidence to make a determination.

There are actually several ways to establish a vehicle’s speed. Visual estimates, such as eyeballing it, are common practices and are often done by officers during traffic stops. Pacing is another way to establish speed; officers use a stopwatch to measure the distance traveled while the car is moving. Officers can also use radar and laser detectors to determine the speed of vehicles.

Radar/Laser Speed Detection

For many years, police agencies across the United States used radar guns to measure vehicle speeds. However, some jurisdictions began replacing those guns with laser technology due to concerns about the accuracy of the equipment. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that laser speed measurement systems produce lower readings than traditional methods. Some states even require permits to purchase laser speed detection devices.

In Georgia, the state legislature passed legislation allowing local governments to regulate traffic safety devices, including radar and laser speed detection devices. Specifically, the law provides that no person shall operate a radar or laser device unless he or she holds a valid permit from the Department of Public Safety. A permit holder must obtain a permit every five years and pay a $100 annual renewal fee.

The law does not apply to police officers who are paid on a fee basis because they do not fall under the definition of “person.” Furthermore, it does not apply to municipalities that employ peace officers on a salary or hourly wage basis. Finally, it does not apply if the officer is required to work 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Punishment for Speeding

Speeding is a misdemeanor in many states, including Georgia. Generally speaking, it carries a penalty that can range up to one year of imprisonment and a $1,500 fine. However, courts have great discretion to determine what happens to drivers charged with speeding offenses. Some judges impose fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. Others sentence defendants to probation. And still, others choose to suspend the defendant’s driving privileges altogether.

In addition to the penalties involved, there are several factors that influence how much money a person must pay for speeding. One factor is whether the offense occurred within five miles of a school zone. Another is whether the offender had a valid driver’s license at the time of the incident. A third is whether the vehicle was being driven recklessly.

For example, a judge might find someone guilty of reckless driving for exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph while driving 30 mph over the posted limit. He could also decide that the defendant was not entitled to a traffic ticket because he did not have a valid driver’s license. These are just two examples.

The bottom line is that each case is unique. If you receive a citation for speeding, contact an experienced Atlanta auto injury attorney immediately. You want to make sure that you understand the full consequences of your decision.

First Georgia Speeding Offense

When people commit a first-time speeding offense in Georgia, the state legislature in 2001 set some limits on the amount of fines they could pay. This schedule is as follows; 1-4 miles over $0; 5-15 miles over $25; 16-30 miles over $100; 31-45 miles over $125; 46-60 miles over $150; 61-75 miles over $200; 76-90 miles over $250; 91+ miles over $300.

This schedule is different from what one might find in other states. Most courts that I have dealt with do not have any mechanism in place to determine whether or not a given traffic citation is a first offense for the person being cited. If you are convicted of a first offense, it is highly unlikely that you will receive any reduction in your fine. However, there is no guarantee that a judge won’t impose additional penalties such as jail time or probation.

The statute does not require that a judge reduce a defendant’s sentence because he or she received a first speeding offense. However, judges are required to consider the fact that a person received a first offense when determining what sentence to impose.

Super Speeder

Beginning in 2009, Georgia has had what it calls the “super speedy” law. But now, beginning today, every state in America has adopted similar laws.

The idea behind the legislation is simple: people shouldn’t be able to go faster than the posted limit on roads without getting caught. So, starting today, the entire nation will have a “super speedy” law on the books.

In Georgia, there are some exceptions. For example, you won’t face a fine or points on your record if you’re clocked doing 65 mph on a freeway. You’ll still face a hefty fine and points, though.

You might think that because Georgia is the only state with a super speedy law, no one else will follow suit. Not true. All 50 states have adopted similar laws.

Here’s how it works: If you’re pulled over for speeding, police officers will check your speed electronically. They’ll send a computerized citation to your car detailing the amount of money you owe and the number of points you’ve accrued.

If you don’t pay the fine within 30 days, your license could be suspended. If you don’t pay the full amount within 60 days, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars in fees and fines.

Many states consider unpaid citations to be civil debts. If you fail to pay those debts, you risk losing your job, being evicted, or even having your vehicle seized.



In conclusion, if you’re caught speeding in Georgia, you could face fines ranging from $100 to $1,000, depending on your speed and where you were going. And even though most states have laws against driving too fast, many drivers still break them. But here’s the thing: when you drive faster than the law allows, you put everyone else on the road at risk. Not only does it increase the chances of accidents, but it also increases the likelihood of being pulled over by police officers. So next time you’re tempted to go above the speed limit, remember that you’re putting others’ lives at risk.


Donald Singleton

Donald Singleton


A Georgia native, Don founded Singleton Law Firm in 1999 as a continuation of his lifetime commitment to serving his state and community. He has concentrated his trial practice to representing victims of serious injury and wrongful death arising out of trucking, car, bus and motorcycle accidents, premises liability and a wide variety of other causes.

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