Ticketing differences in state law bring questions

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Shelby County Rep. Cam Ward will meet today with Department of Public Safety officials in an attempt to address disparities in Alabama law and the actions of members of that department.

The problem was discovered recently when a Pelham resident contacted Ward after his daughter received notification that her driver’s license would be suspended by the state of Georgia.

Lindsay Busby received a speeding ticket in Georgia on June 4, 2002. She was 19 at the time and was traveling 24 miles over the speed limit.

The speeding ticket was $175 and was paid at the time by the Busbys, according to Lindsay’s father, Mike Busby.

Georgia law dictates that a speeding ticket received by a person under age 21 who is traveling more than 24 mph over the speed limit calls for that person to forfeit their license and driving privileges for six months.

That law should not fly in Alabama, however, according to Ward.

&uot;According to our Alabama law, (a person in that same situation) would not lose their license,&uot; Ward said.

Under Alabama law and the same circumstances, Lindsay would receive five points on her driving record. A driver must have 12 to 14 points in a two-year period to face a suspension of their driver’s license.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety contends that the state maintains a reciprocal agreement with Georgia in which Alabama agrees to recognize Georgia laws and their consequences.

Ward believes, however, that reciprocal agreement does not allow for the suspension of a Alabama license based on a crime committed in the state of Georgia.

Alabama law states: &uot;The Director of Public Safety is authorized to suspend or revoke the license of any resident of this state or the privilege of a nonresident to drive a motor vehicle in this state upon receiving notice of the conviction of such person in another state of any offense therein which, if committed in this state, would be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the license of a driver.&uot;

According to Jeff Caddell, director of the Shelby County Legislative Delegation office, the phrase, &uot;if committed in this state&uot; is the sticking point.

&uot;If you go to another state, you have to abide by the laws of that state no matter what,&uot; Ward said. &uot;But the state of Georgia can’t send you a letter and demand that you relinquish your driver’s license.

&uot;Under our code, they should not be losing their licenses.&uot;

Once the disparity in the law was pointed out to DPS officials, Lindsay Busby did not lose her Alabama license.

Since Ward and Caddell were first made aware of the disparity, they have received numerous calls from others who have been required by Georgia and other states to relinquish their Alabama licenses based on the crimes they committed in other states.

&uot;Some of them should not have turned in their licenses based on our own law,&uot; Caddell said.

Officials with DPS say under the current system of reporting from other states, there is not a method to pick up details of a violation from another state to compare it with Alabama law. The state uses a database called the National Drivers Registry, which is used by 48 states.

Ward said he hopes the meeting today will familiarize DPS officials with the problem.

&uot;We’re just not enforcing our own laws,&uot; he said.

&uot;All I want is for people who call DPS to be given the correct information.&uot;