After getting pulled over by the Georgia State Patrol for going 90 miles per hour in a 55-zone, Connor Cato knew he was going to get a ticket. However, he was wildly surprised when his e-ticket told him the fine for the speeding ticket was an unbelievable $1.4 million.
When Cato saw his fine, he immediately called the local officials of Savannah, Georgia to find out if there had been a clerical error; he told the press, “I said ‘This might be a typo’ and she said, ‘No sir, you either pay the amount on the ticket or you come to court on Dec. 21 at 1:30 p.m.”
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Obviously, Cato could not and would not pay $1.4 million for a speeding ticket, so he reached out to criminal defense attorney Sneh Patel to find out what he could do to get out of the fine. Patel told the press that, at first, he also believed it was a clerical error as he had “never seen something like this, ever.” However, when Patel followed up with the authorities, he, like Cato, was told “it’s not a clerical error.”
Patel also explained that a misdemeanor traffic violation in Georgia cannot exceed $1,000, and that higher bond amounts such as $5,000 or maybe even $10,000 were only used for violent crimes or people missing their court dates. But more than a million dollars was completely unheard of except for maybe in high-profile drug trafficking or murder cases.
As it turns out, it was in fact a clerical error, though the city of Savannah won’t technically admit it. The spokesperson for Savannah explained, “The system automatically puts in $999,999.99 as the base amount plus other costs since the only way to resolve the ticket is to appear in court. The programmers who designed the software used the largest number possible because super speeder tickets are a mandatory court appearance and do not have a fine amount attached to them when issued by police.”
After hearing about this confusing story, many people are wondering why the citation couldn’t simply read “fine pending” or something along those lines instead of a ridiculous and terrifying number. But the spokesperson claimed that the Savannah office had done nothing wrong.
They also claim that “The City did not implement the placeholder amount in order to force or scare people into court,” though some argue that could very well have been their intention, and more importantly, even if it wasn’t the intent, that’s certainly what it did.
Since the story made headlines, the spokesperson also announced that they plan to make a change and that the “Recorder’s Court is working on adjusting the language in e-citations in order to avoid future confusion.”
Luckily for Cato, he did not have to pay $1.4 million for speeding, and hopefully this story will force Savannah to change their e-tickets so that no one else has to hire a lawyer to pay a speeding fine.