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Is This Really What It’s Coming To?
A few days later you call the number on the ticket to find out how much you need to pay and nearly drop the phone when you hear $200… What?!?! $200! For crossing the street?! That’s right. Thanks to the city’s new “Awareness Campaign” if you are caught jaywalking, that is to cross a street at a place other than a crosswalk or in a heedless manner, you can expect a hefty ticket.
Naturally, this has infuriated both locals and tourists alike. As more and more people are finding themselves without work, having to scrimp and save as best they can, the last thing they need is a ridiculously large ticket for something we all do without even thinking about it. Not to mention the fact that Savannah, which is one of the top walking cities in the nation, is heavily dependent on the tourism industry. If we anger enough tourists who will then go home and warn friends and family not to visit Savannah where you get a $200 ticket for crossing the street… what impact will that have on our local economy?
People aren’t staying quiet about this either. Countless forums have postings discussing this campaign. There has even been a facebook group created called “Savannahians Against Ticketing for Jaywalking” with a following of over 1700 people. They are calling the tickets a violation of Amendment VIII of the Constitution. That amendment states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” It is also being said that these unnecessary excessive fines are just a way for the city to raise funds to deal with budget problems. It’s hard to argue. It seems more and more cities are coming up with outlandish ways to get themselves out of debt. Just yesterday, June 16, a story broke that in Toledo, Ohio residents are being ticketed for parking in their own driveways. Their own driveways! The tickets are being issued over a law stating that it is illegal to park a vehicle on an unpaved surface. Never mind that fact that this law was created more than half a century ago, when tires were easily damaged by unpaved surfaces; or the fact that your car is parked in your own driveway on your own private property or that these tickets are not being written by police but rather by workers of the city’s Division of Streets, Bridges and Harbor. Uh-oh! You have a gravel driveway? Ticket!
This is a slippery slope we’re walking down. If these forms of revenue are accepted by city officials, what’s next? A ticket for sleeping in your own bed after 12pm? A ticket for wearing white after Labor Day? What about some real laws city officials could dig up and start ticketing for. Have you ever cursed in a funeral home? Ticket! Ever spat from a car or bus? Ticket! No one here is condoning breaking the law. There have been some truly horrific pedestrian accidents due to people crossing in the middle of the street. However, a $200 ticket is not sending the right message. Instead of a message of serious concern for public safety coming across, it seems the bigger message is that of a city trying desperately to find ways to clean up their own budget mess by hitting their already suffering people where it hurts, their wallet.
What do you think? Comment on this article or in our forum.