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It's been a few years since my last traffic ticket for a "safety restraint violation," so I guess I was probably due. I was pulled over by the Georgia State Patrol this weekend driving between Tucker Hardware Franklin Road and the Silver Star Chevron gas station on Temple Road 0.35 miles away. There was a gas station closer to the hardware store, but I thought the Chevron would have higher quality gas. That decision will cost me $15.00, more than the amount I had intended to spend on gas for the Jeep. Next time, I'm just settling for the lower quality gas.

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I understand that Georgia's Seat Belt Law allows an officer to pull me over and issue a citation for an obvious violation of the code. (Damn you, open Jeep top!) I do not, however, understand how a fine of $15.00 is supposed to encourage me to wear a seat belt. So far it hasn't, and I can't imagine that it ever will be the deciding factor in whether or not I buckle up. If Georgia lawmakers wanted me to care, they'd charge me more. Just think: if $15.00 means nothing to me, what does it means to them?

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Driving home from my father's house today, I was pulled over at the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Bethlehem Road by Sgt. Hinson of the Statham, Georgia police department. I think it is the very first time that I have ever peen pulled over that I wasn't nervous. I knew exactly what he pulled me over for: I wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

This marks the second time that I've ever been pulled over for a "Seat Belt" violation and the third time that I've been pulled over in Statham GA. The other 2 times I've been stopped in Statham (pronounced STATE-um by the locals for reasons that I don't understand) were for speeding. Neither resulted in a ticket, just a verbal chiding. (I was told that I could exceed the speed limit by as much as 14 mph and get away with it by decree of the Statham mayor.) Amusingly enough, neither of the times that I was pulled over for speeding was I wearing a seat belt.

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In the state of Georgia, the fine for not wearing a seat belt (GA State Law code violation is $15.00. I don't yet know if the city of Atlanta charges more, as they haven't much seemed to care if I'm endangering myself on the few times that I have encountered them. Sgt. Hinson was very kind to remind me that the violation doesn't count points off of my driver's license, so clearly I can repeat this violation as many times as I wish without putting my ability to drive in question.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the lawmakers who drafted and passed the law that encourages police officers to ticket otherwise compliant and safe drivers on lazy Sunday afternoons for a violation that threatened no one's life but my own. (Certainly, Superman never stopped traffic to make sure that Jimmy buckled up.) I'm pleased to start April off with a bang, dashing Statham's hope of achieving a 100% rating for seat belt use for the month.

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To be continued...


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