City of Albany considers new appeal process for speed cameras

City of Albany considers new appeal process for speed cameras
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 5:17 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2022 at 7:42 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - During the first week of school, 3,000 red speed violations were given out. The number of violations is leading to a backlog of cases in municipal court which is why city officials are looking to cut that number down.

To appeal a red speed violation, residents would go to municipal court. The city commission is now looking at a new process that would take those violations from there and hear them at the Albany Police Department (APD).

The reason city officials are wanting to move cases out of Municipal court is because they can’t get through them all. The backlog is so extreme that 510 cases from last school year are still waiting to be heard.

Judge Willie Weaver, chief Municipal Court Judge, said since these are civil cases, and all the evidence is with the police department it makes sense to have hearings there.

“We’re still under the COVID rules in the courthouse, so we’re having smaller sessions three times (on) Monday, Wednesday (and) Friday,” said Weaver.

Judge Willie Weaver is the Chief Municipal Court Judge in Dougherty County.
Judge Willie Weaver is the Chief Municipal Court Judge in Dougherty County.(WALB)

The hearing process would involve an APD officer, a judge from another jurisdiction and the person who got the ticket.

Barry Brooks, The director of the Municipal Court, said they would hold these hearings once a month with 50 cases in each session.

“It’d be able to catch us up by the end of the year and moving forward we should be in good shape,” said Brooks.

With nearly 3,000 speeding violations given out in the first week of school, Michael Persley, Albany Police Chief, said the point is to change bad habits.

“I’ll take the brunt of this if this is what it takes to ensure a safe community then I’m your man,” said Persley.

If a person is found liable and wants to appeal, they would file with the superior court.

Municipal Court Director Barry Brooks, said there are few options for getting out of the citation.

There are 510 cases of red speed citations  from last school year waiting to be heard.
There are 510 cases of red speed citations from last school year waiting to be heard.(WALB)

“ (If) you weren’t driving, and you swear to that in court, or your vehicle was stolen, and you can produce a police report. Once that starts getting known that the hearing officers not going to have much leeway to find you not liable for speeding, maybe that will increase people slowing down and see a decrease of people filing to municipal court,” said brooks.

Persley said these citations are not only changing driving behaviors but that it’s better than being stopped by an officer.

“With this program, it gives you 10 miles over. If we stop you, we don’t have to and it’s a criminal offense. This process is a civil process it doesn’t count against your license (or) insurance, and if they forget, it’s not a failure to appear,” said Persley.

Chief Michael Persley says he will take the brunt for the red speed cameras.
Chief Michael Persley says he will take the brunt for the red speed cameras.(WALB)

They would hold hearings once a month with 50 cases each time. If a resident was unhappy with the hearing, they would appeal to the superior court. The city commission will decide on this on Sept. 27.

The New speed cameras near Monroe High, Morningside Elementary, Dougherty High and Northside Elementary are still in a citation warning phase.

That phase will end on Sept. 23. Actual citations will be issued following that.