Law Sets New Fines

Putting the pedal to the metal can cost you a pretty penny, especially if you do it in a roadway work area.

July 1 marks the start of a new fiscal year in Mississippi and a new law on violating traffic laws in work areas takes effect. The fines for speeding in such areas will go up to almost double the cost for fines for most misdemeanor offenses.

Under the new law, the first offense is a $250 fine. The second has an automatic $400 fine. If you're found guilty of doing it a third time within 12 months, the fine is then $1,000, a price which roadway officials say is not unfair.

"Of course, it's not unfair," said Lauderdale County engineer Neal Carson. "We had trouble with people going too fast through our work zones for as long as I've been here and I've been here 34 years."

"Our most important thing is the safety of the workers and the motorists. A lot of times they have a hole that's excavated in the street and someone not paying attention may drive into the hole. Also, you have the safety of the men that are out there working to think about," said city of Meridian street superintendent Greer Goldman.

In the new law, fines not only apply to state roads but also those managed by individual cities and counties.

However, all of the responsibility is not placed on motorists; the new law also requires road crews to place warning signs identifying work zones.

Although the new law might cost motorists and cities, counties and the state some money, lawmakers say it could save something much more important---a life.