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Georgia Basic Rules (“Too Fast for Conditions”)
If you’ve had the misfortune of spending any time in Georgia traffic court, you may have heard of something called a Basic Rules Violation. This may be used interchangeably with something called Too Fast for Conditions. They mean the same thing and refer to the same Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180 states that a person may not drive faster than is “reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing.”
There are certain circumstances where drivers must be especially careful, including:
- When approaching an intersection,
- When approaching a railroad grade crossing,
- When approaching and going around a curve,
- When approaching or going over a hill crest,
- When traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway,
- When special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians, and
- When hazards exist due to weather conditions.
How fast is “Too Fast for Conditions?”
This is an impossible question, because there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on the road, the weather conditions, and what is happening around the driver. One thing that is clear from Georgia law:
A person can be charged with a Basic Rules Violation / Too Fast for Conditions even if they are driving at or under the speed limit. Cohran v. Douglasville Concrete Prods., Inc. 153 Ga.App. 8, 265 S.E.2d 507 (1980). This is because the charge is based on the circumstances surrounding the offense. For example, 60 miles per hour may be perfectly reasonable on a highway on a sunny day, but probably not during a snowstorm.
How will a Too Fast for Conditions conviction affect your license?
For most Georgia drivers, a conviction on a Basic Rules Violation / Too Fast for Conditions charge will not result in points on your license.
Because of this, many Georgia Traffic Defense Lawyers work very hard to get charges on other traffic offenses reduced to a Basic Rules / Too Fast for Conditions charge. It is used as a “catch-all” reduction in Georgia traffic courts. Short of a total dismissal, it is the best possible outcome of a traffic charge. For most Georgia drivers, a reduction to Basic Rules / Too Fast for Conditions allows them to maintain a clean driving record, or helps them keep their driving privileges if they already have some points on their licenses. For most Georgia drivers, a conviction on a Basic Rules / Too Fast for Conditions charge does not even get reported to the Department of Driver Services. This is in contrast to offenses like Speeding, which do result in points on your license.
Learn more about the points system in Georgia here.
What is the fine for a Too Fast for Conditions conviction?
A maximum of $1,000. With a few exceptions for very serious offenses, most traffic offenses in Georgia are misdemeanors. This means that they carry a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 plus court costs and fees. That said, the actual fine will likely be much lower, and most judges will not require jail time for a Basic Rules Violation.
Young Drivers and Basic Rules / Too Fast for Conditions Violations
A reduction to a Basic Rules / Too Fast for Conditions charge can be especially important for drivers who are under 21 years old. Younger drivers are subject to more strict rules than older drivers are. If a driver under 21 is convicted of certain offenses, including any offense for which 4 or more points are assessable under O.C.G.A. § 40-5-57, his or her license will be suspended. A Georgia Traffic Defense Attorney who can get one of these offenses reduced to Basic Rules can save a young driver’s license.
For drivers under 18, this is even more important. A driver under 18 who accumulates 4 or more points in a 12-month period will have his or her license suspended. Most Georgia Traffic Offenses are 3-point offenses, meaning that two relatively minor traffic offenses can result in a suspended license.
CDL Drivers and Basic Rules / Too Fast for Conditions
Drivers with Commercial Drivers Licenses are also subject to strict rules. While most Georgia drivers benefit greatly from being convicted on a Basic Rules violation instead of a more serious driving offense, CDL drivers do not get to fully reap the benefits of this. Although Basic Rules still does not result in points on the CDL Driver’s license, the ticket is reported to the Department of Driver Services. Because of this, it is extremely important that drivers with CDLs speak with a Georgia Traffic Defense Attorney prior to entering any plea or paying a ticket.
Why hire a Georgia Traffic Attorney for a Basic Rules Violation / Too Fast for Conditions charge?
If you have been charged with a Basic Rules Violation / Too Fast for Conditions charge, you should speak to an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney immediately, especially if you don’t believe you did anything wrong or if you have a CDL. It is never a good idea to go to court alone. Call me today.
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