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'Almost $5,000 worth of tickets': East Macon speeding cameras causing people grief

Sonya Goodlow says she didn't think the new speeding cameras were active, since they weren't notified. Now she and several family members owe nearly $5000 in fines.

MACON, Ga. — It seems like more cities and counties are installing speeding cameras in school zones these days. A new set sits in front of Northeast High School on Upper River Road in East Macon. 

Some folks say it's causing them some financial grief.

Sonya Goodlow lives about a mile away from the new speeding cameras installed on Upper River Road, and she says they're affecting her and her entire family. 

"My cousin got a ticket, my daughter got a ticket, my grandson got tickets,” she says. 

Goodlow says she noticed the new cameras in early August, but didn't think they were active since they weren't notified about it. However, in mid-September, she got a surprise in the mail.

“I saw all of these warnings. Like five or six warnings,” she explains. 

Goodlow says she realized the cameras must be working and started telling her family to slow down, but just a few days later– she received more warnings in the mail along with several speeding tickets. 

Everybody would've stopped speeding off the first warning. How are you going to warn me and then give me a ticket at the same time?," she asked.

Goodlow says citations she was given on September 1st were just now being delivered to her house the last week of September.

Now, she and several family members owe nearly $5000 in fines.

Goodlow, her husband, her daughter, a grandson, and a cousin accumulated dozens of tickets– just in September. 

She says the tickets seemed to be getting delivered late, and now her first ticket is due to be paid in the next week. 

She says this is giving them less than a month to pay them back.  

Even stranger still, she says her 18-year-old grandson’s received 17 speeding tickets alone– adding up to $1,700. 

She says all of his speeding tickets were registered for different days, but Goodlow says all of his are due on the 30th, and were delivered to him all on the same day in a stack. 

“This is a predominantly poor neighborhood. We can't pay this, we can't afford these tickets,” she says. “We’re not denying that someone was speeding in the cars. There’s proof. What we’re saying is that the warnings should've been way in advance.”

Major Brad Wolfe with the Bibb County Sheriff's office says he was taken aback to hear about how many tickets the Goodlow’s received. 

"I empathize, I mean that's a lot,” he says. 

Wolfe says the cameras became active on the first day of school, August 3rd. He says the county sent warnings to violators for a month before real citations were given.

“So, if somebody went through there speeding ten times, then they would get 10 warnings, but after 30 days they became citations. So, some people asked why they didn’t get warnings– it’s because it was a time frame,” Wolfe explains. 

However,  he says he admits they didn't notify the public about it. 

"We didn't do it, we probably should have-- I guess in retrospect-- and we're going to try to do something now to explain to people how these things work,”. 

Wolfe says it takes time for Altumint– the company that owns the cameras and takes the photos– to send violations to the sheriff's office.  He says deputies approve them, send them back, and the company mails the citations to people. 

“That's something I'll have to get with the company about to see what the turn around times are to expedite it because that is unfortunate that she didn't get the warning prior to the tickets to let her know that she had committed the violation,” he says.  “I have a meeting this week with them, so hopefully we can streamline this process.”

Wolfe says they’ve gotten hundreds of calls about the situation. He says that in the meantime, people with lots of tickets can call the number on the back of their citation to schedule a hearing with a judge, and explain their situation. 

He says once a court date is set, the fines will be on hold until their court date.

Wolfe says they’re working on being able to warn folks faster, but he hopes it’s gotten people’s attention. 

“It’s there for a reason, I mean, we’re serious about it,” says. 

Wolfe says as just a reminder, the school zone has flashing lights an hour before the first school bell at 6:45A.M, and will stop flashing at 7:45A.M. 

However, he says after the lights stop flashing, the roads return to the normal speed limit, but it’s still an active school zone. So, you can still get a ticket even if the lights are off. 

He says the sheriff's department will send out a release next week to inform folks about the speeding cameras and how they work.


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