SAVANNAH, GA – A Georgia man was recently issued what appeared to be a $1.4 million speeding ticket, but the staggering fine was actually just a placeholder amount generated by flawed software, officials say.
The incident occurred on September 2nd when Savannah resident Connor Cato was driving home on a local freeway. He was clocked going 90 mph in a 55 mph zone by Georgia State Patrol.
“I knew I was speeding and expected a hefty fine, but nothing could prepare me for what I saw when the trooper handed me the ticket,” Cato told reporters. “It said I owed $1.4 million! I thought it had to be a typo.”
Cato’s Shock Over The Enormous “Fine”
Cato recounted how he phoned the court assuming there had been a mistake. But he was informed the amount was correct and that he either had to pay the $1.4 million or appear in court on December 21st.
“The lady told me ‘No sir, you either pay the amount on the ticket or you come to court.’ I was stunned,” Cato said.
Local attorney Sneh Patel told reporters he had never seen such an astronomical figure levied for a misdemeanor speeding offense.
“Not $1.4 million. Fines like that are for major crimes like drug trafficking, murder, or aggravated assault,” Patel said. “Speeding, even at 90 mph, does not warrant a fee of that magnitude.”
A Coding Glitch Behind The Crazy Number
It turns out Cato was never actually expected to pay the $1.4 million, and the number was a placeholder generated by flawed software.
The massive figure was produced by the e-citation system used by Savannah’s Recorder’s Court for citations issued to “super speeders.” Georgia law defines a super speeder as any driver caught going over 85 mph on a freeway, or over 35 mph on any other road.
“The software automatically applies a $1.4 million placeholder fine to all super speeder tickets,” explained Joshua Peacock, a spokesperson for the city government. “It’s the maximum number the system allows.”
He stressed the artificial amount was never meant to be an actual fine that drivers pay.
Flawed System Leads To Confusion
The glitch-ridden system has been used by Savannah courts since 2017. Programmers intentionally made the placeholder amount extremely high because super speeder citations require a mandatory court appearance.
“These tickets do not have a pre-set fine when issued. The judge decides the actual fine in court,” Peacock said.
Fines for super speeder violations cannot exceed $1,000 under Georgia law. Additional state-mandated fees are also applied.
Peacock acknowledged the $1.4 million placeholder has caused problems and confusion. The city is working to update the software to avoid similar incidents going forward.
“We do not issue that amount as a scare tactic,” he said. “We’re adjusting the placeholder language so there’s no more confusion.”
While Cato was initially panicked over potentially owing a fortune for speeding, he’s now breathing a sigh of relief the fee isn’t real. His case highlights concerns over local governments utilizing flawed and unintuitive software that could cause undue distress.
Cato’s December court date for the speeding citation remains mandatory. The judge will determine financial penalties based on the circumstances.
Georgia’s Super Speeder Law Explained
The state of Georgia passed its Super Speeder Law in 2010 to crack down on drivers traveling at excessive speeds. The law imposes hefty fines and mandates license points for those caught speeding at very high rates.
The exact definition of a super speeder violation is:
- Driving over 85 mph on any road or highway in Georgia. This includes interstate highways.
- Driving over 35 mph over the posted speed limit on any two-lane road, highway, or surface street in Georgia.
So if the speed limit is 55 mph, being clocked at 90 mph or above triggers the super speeder penalty.
Those cited for super speeder violations face:
- A fine of $200, plus an additional $200 state fee, for a total minimum of $400.
- An additional $10 per mph over the speed limit.
- Points on their Georgia driver’s license – 2 points for exceeding 85 mph, and 1 point for going over 35 mph over the limit.
The maximum fine allowed by law is $1,000, not counting the state’s fees. Court costs and other penalties may also apply.
The goal of the law is to curb high rates of deadly speed-related accidents on Georgia roads and highways. But critics say the flawed placeholder ticket system needs to be addressed, so drivers aren’t unduly penalized or alarmed over fictitious fines.