OUR VIEW: Legislature has chance to clean up state’s roadsThe state House of Representatives has been considering whether to raise the potential fines for repeat drunken drivers.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
The state House of Representatives has been considering whether to raise the potential fines for repeat drunken drivers. Although no action was taken late last week, it’s a subject that’s likely to arise again in the coming days.
The plan, the way it currently is being discussed, would give circuit judges more freedom to impose additional penalties for multiple convictions of driving under the influence. We’re all for this, since many DUI offenders just don’t seem to get the message. According to information that was presented to the Legislature, South Dakota has one of the nation’s highest ratios of alcohol-related fatalities.
Also, it’s time for the Legislature to determine that habitual offenders of the state speeding laws should be required to forfeit their driving privileges. We don’t know of any official efforts to bring this before the Legislature this year, but the time is right.
Speeding infractions apparently were part of the penalty points system decades ago, but legislation passed in 1986 eased the consequences on speeders. Stories we have heard say that the points system was dropped because the state was upset with the federal government for not relaxing the 55 mph national speed limit.
Today, we can legally drive up to 75 mph on interstates, 70 mph on expressways and 65 mph on most two-lane highways. That’s quite a bit faster than the plodding 55 mph limit set back in the 1970s.
In essence, those who can afford it financially are able to drive however fast they choose. That’s a flawed system.
We’re glad the Legislature is considering stiffer penalties for repeat DUI offenders. We hope they continue to clean up South Dakota’s roads with a points system for speeders and — as we have mentioned before — a law that bans texting while driving.
These are easy fixes.