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New laws for 2010

Drivers who like to speed could be deterred from stiff new fines for excessive speeding.

Under a new Georgia law known as the “Super Speeder” legislation, an extra fine of $200 can be added on top of any other fines issued for speeding when a driver is convicted of going 85 miles per hour or more on any road or highway, or 75 miles per hour or more on any two-lane road or highway.

The money collected from the “Super Speeder” fines will be used to fund a trauma care system in Georgia.

According to state officials, approximately 60 percent of the state’s trauma center patients have been involved in automobile accidents. Additionally, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, about 21 percent of the state’s traffic fatalities are related to excessive speed.

Drug offenders will have licenses suspended

The “Super Speeder” legislation also delays the ability to get a driver’s license for any teen under the age of 16 who is found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, unlawful possession of marijuana, cocaine or certain controlled substances or of the unlawful possession of a dangerous drug.

If found guilty, the teen’s ability to apply for a driver’s license or learner’s permit would be suspended and delayed until they reach the age of 17; or the age of 18 upon a second or subsequent conviction. The teen would also have to complete a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction program and pay a license reinstatement fee.

The penalty could apply to teens caught in possession of ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, various hallucinogenic substances, as well as teens caught unlawfully possessing or selling controlled prescription drugs such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and other narcotics.

Adults convicted of violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act will now have their driver’s licenses suspended for a minimum of 180 days, have to complete a DUI Risk Reduction Program and pay a reinstatement fee. The license suspension period and reinstatement fees increase significantly with each additional drug-related offense within five years.

Law places new checks on citizenship

HB 2 requires every public employer, including city and county governments, to register and participate in the federal work authorization program to verify the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees.

The law also requires employers to get documentation from contractors and subcontractors who submit bids for services that they are also participating in the federal work authorization program.

Jails will now be required to check the citizenship of persons charged with felony crimes, DUI, driving without a license or with a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. Jails will have to check whether prisoners have been lawfully admitted to the United States and if so, that their residency status has not expired. They will also have to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security if the prisoner is in the country illegally.

However, the law will not prevent prisoners who are in the United States illegally from being bonded out or released from jail when eligible.

Government agencies will also have to check for the lawful residency status of applicants for a number of long-term public benefits, not including emergency medical care or disaster relief funds.

Permanent tags available for some trailers

Owners of certain trailers will now have the option of obtaining a permanent registration and license plate for the trailers, upon the payment of a one-time fee. The license plate is non-transferable if the trailer is sold.

Trailers covered under the new law include any leased or rented trailer, including those used for commercial logging or unprocessed farm products; any trailer used as or in connection with a motor vehicle, truck or tractor used as a common or contract carrier for hire, a private carrier or a motor carrier of property; or any boat trailer, utility trailer or noncommercial cattle and livestock trailer.