Friday, October 19, 2007

State Speed Enforcement Laws on DeKalb County Park Property

Dear Fran, Dan, Jill & Mike,

A couple of months ago I witnessed a car speeding to the back of Brook Run Park heading for the dog area which just missed a young boy on a bicycle. At the time, there were no speed limit signs and at my urging the county has installed new speed limit signs in the park. When I have the opportunity to talk to the DeKalb PD, speed enforcement in the park is one of the many subjects I usually bring up. Last night I talked to Major Horner who is in charge of Speed Enforcement for DeKalb County and was again informed that it was a State regulation that speed enforcement was not allowed in the park. I have mentioned this subject twice in my blog (links listed below) and would like your opinion if this is a state regulatory problem or a county enforcement misunderstanding.

As you know, Brook Run was state property up to a few years ago and it is now county property designated as a County Park. Since there were no speed limit signs until a month or two ago, I doubt that the county has applied to the Department of Public Safety for a permit to do speed enforcement in the park. Is that all the county needs to do under State Law to start doing speed enforcement? Is it the issue that the park is “Private Property” or that the streets are not thoroughfares since there is only one entrance in and out of the park? Captain Yarbrough of the North Precinct stated that he was going to look into this issue from the counties perspective on the enforceability of a County Ordinance (DeKalb Code 17-113 Maximum Speed in Parks). I have copied the County Attorney, Mr. Bill Linkous who’s office may also be of assistance with the interpretation and/or application of this county ordinance.

I am no attorney but have reviewed some of the State Law on the subject and have copied some it below as well as the link to bill hb631 which some of you have sponsored this session. I see that school zones are protected in 40-14-8 from the 10 mph over rule and ask that we think about roads adjacent to or inside a park also be allowed for strict enforcement. Since the posted speed limit in Brook Run is now 15 mph, I guess 40-14-8 might allow it to be considered a residential district; but it is a huge stretch since the roads are within a declared a park with no residential homes in sight.

DeKalb is pointing the finger at the state regulations saying that speed enforcement cannot be done in Brook Run. I welcome any and all guidance on the subject in order to change this situation.

Thank you, John Heneghan, President
Dunwoody North Civic Association

I wasn't called upon during the meeting (it was crowded) but talked to Major Calhoun the new Commander of the North Precinct after the meeting about Brook Run & speed enforcement regulations. It was at that point that I was referred to Major Horner the Commander of Special Operations, in charge of speed enforcement who was standing right behind us. Major Horner stated that State regulations mandated that only specific stretches of road which were pre-approved by the State were allowed to have speed enforcement and that Counties & municipalities were stuck to abide by these now ancient rules. We then discussed the fact that these regulations were written upon the books years ago when radar was first coming on board but now because of the high tech laser systems, the regulations may need to be revised to match the technology. (Dan, Fran, Jill & Mike are you aware of these rules?)

I asked about speed enforcement in Brook Run Park and you “Major Gilstrap” and Captain Yarbrough both stated that you were not allowed to do it there because of the way that the laws was written. I questioned this on various legal angles, I even quoted park regulations which prohibit speed in excess of 20 miles per hour in County parks (DeKalb Code 17-113 Maximum Speed in Parks) but you stated that you would have to research this subject and get back to me. If you report that you are not allowed to do speed enforcement in the County Park based on a specific regulation, I will personally petition the Board of Commissioners to change the law so that you can then perform this important function throughout the County.

Proposed change in the law on speed enforcement.

Current Georgia Law

§ 40-14-3. Application for permit; use of device while application pending
(a) A county sheriff, county or municipal governing authority, or the president of a college or university may apply to the Department of Public Safety for a permit to authorize the use of speed detection devices for purposes of traffic control within such counties, municipalities, colleges, or universities on streets, roads, and highways, provided that such application shall name the street or road on which the device is to be used and the speed limits on such street or road shall have been approved by the Office of Traffic Operations of the Department of Transportation. Law enforcement agencies are authorized to use speed detection devices on streets and roads for which an application is pending as long as all other requirements for the use of speed detection devices are met. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to affect the provisions of Code Section 40-14-9.

§ 40-14-8. When case may be made and conviction had
(a) No county, city, or campus officer shall be allowed to make a case based on the use of any speed detection device, unless the speed of the vehicle exceeds the posted speed limit by more than ten miles per hour and no conviction shall be had thereon unless such speed is more than ten miles per hour above the posted speed limit.

(b) The limitations contained in subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply in properly marked school zones one hour before, during, and one hour after the normal hours of school operation, in properly marked historic districts, and in properly marked residential zones. For purposes of this chapter, thoroughfares with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or more shall not be considered residential districts. For purposes of this Code section, the term "historic district" means a historic district as defined in paragraph (5) of Code Section 44-10-22 and which is listed on the Georgia Register of Historic Places or as defined by ordinance adopted pursuant to a local constitutional amendment.

1 comment:

Open+Transparent said...

John, the county is full of #$%^ on this alledged state reg on not enforcing speed limits in parks. Thanks for calling their bluff.
They just don't want to do it. Period.