People don’t like police speed traps, and they’ve done everything in their power to avoid them. Back when I initially learned how to drive, radar detectors were all the rage.
Today, having one of a whole host of smartphone apps that alert you to the presence of police is basically de rigueur for speeders. But a group of officers in Marietta, Georgia, came up with an ingenious way to get around such high-tech gadgets.
It involved nothing more than a little old-fashioned subterfuge. Some background is in order, though.
According to the Georgia Department Of Driver Services, the Peach State put a new statute into effect on July 1, 2018. Dubbed the Hands Free Georgia Law, it made it a violation to hold a cell phone while driving a vehicle.
Drivers would also earn a violation if they texted or watched any kind of media. Penalties included points on drivers’ licenses and fines ranging from $50 to $150.
Of course, enforcement is the real rub with such statues. WGCL-TV reported that officers plotted a special sting operation on June 19, one that involved coordination — and disguises.
A trio of Marietta officers dressed up as construction workers. Shedding their usual navy blue uniforms, they donned jeans, t-shirt, yellow safety vests and baseball caps.
As drivers passed by, the undercover cops took note of whether they were using cell phones or motoring without a seatbelt. Then they radioed ahead to waiting uniformed officers who pulled over the offenders and gave them tickets.
WAGA reported that Cobb County police also joined in the effort. So did troopers with the Georgia State Patrol.
A four-mile stretch of street ended up hiding police vehicles around virtually every side street and cul-de-sac. It worked surprisingly well.
According to Fox News, the sting ended with officers writing 141 tickets, while troopers penned 29. Additionally, three individuals were arrested.
The Marietta Police Department posted the reason for the effort on its Facebook page, saying, “Driving is a PRIVILEGE not a RIGHT. When we sign for our driver’s licence we agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the road as established by our elected government officials.”
The Department also noted that it could’ve easily fined even more people. “If we had even more marked vehicles available, even more violators would have been issued citations,” it wrote.
“This is CLEARLY a law that has been forgotten and is being violated.” However, the law also extends a measure of grace to violators.
“The tickets for distracted driving, according to the law, can ALL be waived the first time if you appear in court and show evidence that you have a blue tooth device in your vehicle now,” the Department stated. Police hope that this tangible reminder will make the streets safer for everyone.
“It’s not just about the person who chooses to pick up the phone,” Officer Chuck McPhilamy said. “It’s about everyone else that’s on the road with them.”
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