Greater speeding punishment sought in Dakotaland

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/23/2013

The states of North Dakota and South Dakota are known for sharing a border, but they are also known for being forgiving to speeders. Lawmakers on both sides of the state line would like to change the latter distinction.

A renewed effort in South Dakota to up the ante on motorists caught speeding on roadways has a steep hill to climb to win legislative support.

South Dakota law adds points to licenses for certain traffic offenses. Since the mid-‘80s points have not been attached to speeding violations.

The House Transportation Committee voted 9-4 on Tuesday, Jan. 22, to reject a bill to add speeding tickets to the system that gives drivers points on their records for moving violations.

Currently, accumulating 15 points in 12 months or 22 points in 24 months can result in license suspension.

Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Sioux Falls, said that excluding speeding tickets from the state’s points system does not make sense. He is hopeful the stiffer punishment would discourage the worst of the worst offenders who continue to speed despite their tickets.

Hickey told panel members before the vote that the rule would affect about 500 of the state’s 600,000 licensed drivers a year.

“The number one way to reduce speeding is the possibility of license revocation,” he said. “Fines have not proven to be a deterrent to slow drivers down.”

In 2012, a similar effort to change the rule was narrowly defeated by House lawmakers. Opponents pointed out that fines and penalties for exceeding the speed limit typically exceed $100. They said the hit to offenders’ pocketbooks is punishment enough.

The point was reiterated this week in committee.

“I didn’t hear any statistics that led me to believe we had any higher incidents of speeding than other states,” Rep. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs, told lawmakers. “Therefore, I believe this is a little bit of an overreach.”

HB1080 would impose one- to three-point penalties for speeders, depending on the speed over the posted limit. The points would be added to the existing fines for speeding.

In North Dakota, multiple bills cover speeding.

State law authorizes $20 speeding tickets on highways when the vehicle is traveling up to 10 mph over the posted speed limit.

One bill would boost the same offense to a $90 fine. Specifically, HB1048 would authorize $20 tickets and additional fines for each mile per hour over the posted speed limit. Higher fines would be imposed on highways.

A separate bill is intended to encourage new residents to the state to register their vehicles in North Dakota.

State law requires new residents to register their vehicles within 150 days.

HB1189 would prohibit affect drivers caught speeding from taking advantage of North Dakota’s low speeding ticket fines. Instead, they would be responsible for paying the state fine rate from their previous residence.

Additional revenue would be sent to the police department that issued the ticket.

Both bills are in the House Transportation Committee.

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