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S.D. House panel kills crackdown on repeat speeders

Posted: Thursday, Jan 24th, 2013

Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Sioux Falls, left, testifies on Tuesday in Pierre to the South Dakota House Transportation Committee, which rejected his proposal to allow the suspension of driving licenses for people who repeatedly speed. In the background is Rep. Ray Ring, D-Vermillion. AP PHOTO

PIERRE (AP) — A legislative panel on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have given South Dakota the option to suspend the licenses of drivers who repeatedly speed.

Motorists can lose their licenses if they accumulate too many points for moving violations, including drunken driving, reckless driving and running a stop sign. But no points are assessed for speeding.

The House Transportation Committee voted 9-4 to kill the bill after opponents said it would inconvenience drivers and require extensive record-keeping just to crack down on a few hundred who repeatedly speed.

“It’s really overkill and keeping track of a whole lot of records that will really be irrelevant,” Rep. Manny Steele, R-Sioux Falls, said. But the bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Sioux Falls, said speeding should add points to drivers’ records because it would save lives.

“Fines have not proven to be a deterrent in slowing down drivers who want to speed,” Hickey said. “The purpose of this bill is not to suspend licenses. It’s to slow people down.”

Hickey said his father was killed in a crash that involved speeding.

“I’ve lost a family member to that. It’s not funny,” Hickey said after the hearing.

Hickey said speeding used to be included in the point system, but was removed in 1986 when the national speed limit was 55 mph. After speed limits were raised again in 1996, the Legislature declined to add speeding back to the list of offenses that earn points, he said.

South Dakota law states that a driving license can be suspended when a driver gets 15 points in a 12-month period or 22 points in a 24-month period. Drunken driving carries 10 points, reckless driving carries 8 and running a stop sign or red light carries 3.

Hickey’s bill would have assessed one to three points for speeding, depending on how far over the speed limit a driver was traveling.

Hickey said South Dakota has about 602,000 licensed drivers and 38,000 speeding tickets were issued in 2009. But about 500 drivers accounted for more than 5,000 tickets. One South Dakota driver got 31 speeding tickets in one year, he said.

Rep. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs, said his experience as a lawyer has taught him that suspending licenses can harm people who need to drive for work. Assessing points for speeding would put more people in danger of losing licenses, he said.

Russell, a former prosecutor, said fines are sufficient to make most people slow down.

“We are keeping the streets as safe as we can,” Russell said.

For the complete article see the 01-23-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-23-2013 paper.

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