Dec 1, 2023 - News

Atlanta seeks lifetime license suspensions for speeding

Illustration of a pair of scissors cutting a Georgia driver's license in two.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Atlanta City Council is calling for lifetime license suspensions for the worst drunk driving and super speeding offenders as traffic collisions continue to plague the region.

Why it matters: Propel ATL, a bicyclist and pedestrian advocacy group, says the number of people hit and killed by drivers in Atlanta last year jumped more than 20% over the previous year, we previously reported.

  • Compared to a decade ago, the Georgia Department of Transportation reports the annual number of crashes in the 11-county metro region caused by aggressive driving, driving while distracted, and speeding has jumped by about 20,000.

Driving the news: Council members recently passed a resolution urging the Georgia General Assembly to enhance super speeding laws and drunk driving laws.

  • The resolution targets drag racing, street racing, reckless driving, exceeding speed limits and drunk driving.
  • Under the resolution, first-time offenders would have their licenses suspended for five years, the second offense earns a license suspension for a decade. A third offense would have the offender's license suspended for life.

Context: The legislation is called "Erica's Law" in honor of Erica Pines, an Atlanta resident and former city employee who was critically injured on July 28 in a vehicle accident that left her with a shattered right ankle.

  • She required multiple surgeries and is facing a 50% mobility prognosis, according to the legislation.
  • Witnesses said the driver who hit her was racing with another car on the road, "and he was simply given a ticket and allowed to go on about his business," Pines told Fox 5 Atlanta.

The council's proposal to state lawmakers also comes as the city continues to investigate the fatal hit-and-run of 33-year-old Brittany Glover. She was killed on Sept. 19, 2022.

  • Council member Keisha Sean Waites, the sponsor of Erica's Law, said at the Nov. 20 council meeting that more than $25,000 has been raised for information on the case.

What's next: The Georgia General Assembly begins in January, and they have until late March to decide if they'll enact the proposal from the Atlanta City Council.

  • Yes, but: State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Atlanta) told Fox 5 she supports stronger penalties. However, she also said an immediate five-year suspension on a first offense would be "a hard pill to swallow" for the entire legislature.

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