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Save time, get fined
Authorities crack down in fire lanes
2 No Parking pic1
Dawson County Sheriffs Sgt. Shane Henson talks to a motorist parked in the fire lane outside Kroger in Dawsonville, while Deputy Josh Rogers points out a no parking sign. Deputies can enforce a new fire lane ordinance that carries a $100 fine per violation. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Parking right in front of your favorite coffee shop, pizza place or dry cleaner may save a few minutes, but it could also carry a hefty fine.

The Dawson County commission last month gave officers the authority to enforce a new local fire lane ordinance.

Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle said the number of motorists parking along the curb at the Kroger shopping center triggered the need for such an ordinance.

"It's the worst place in town. There is always someone parked in the fire lane to get coffee or their dry cleaning," Carlisle said. "And it's dangerous for the people crossing the street.

"You have to drive around the cars parked at the curb and it's hard to see the people crossing the street because of the cars illegally parked."

Parking in fire lanes also poses a threat when emergency vehicles cannot reach designated lanes in the event of an emergency, he said.

While the law took effect July 1, Carlisle said officers will not immediately begin writing tickets for violations.

"What we'll be doing is trying to let people know about the new law with warnings," he said. "We want to make sure we give the public an opportunity to hear about it before we begin to enforce it."

Drivers parking in handicap designated areas without permits could also be fined, according to the ordinance.

Drivers who park in fire lanes and handicap spaces were subject to state fines prior to approval of the local ordinance.

The local ordinance allows the county's fire marshal and code enforcement officers to issues citations that would be processed through magistrate court.