OUR VIEW: As law stands, speeding is a privilege for state’s wealthyWe’re surprised that South Dakota lawmakers are so hesitant to reinstate a points system that would further punish chronic speeders in this state.
South Dakota law mandates that drivers who get busted for two instances of reckless driving in a year will temporarily forfeit their license as part of the penalty.
Three cases of drag racing? Same thing.
And those who get caught driving under the influence of alcohol will lose their driving privileges faster than some lawmakers drive to work.
Considering these stringent rules — with which we agree, by the way — we’re surprised that South Dakota lawmakers are so hesitant to reinstate a points system that would further punish chronic speeders in this state.
The Daily Republic on Saturday published a report that once again outlines this oddity. The story noted the many ways South Dakota drivers can lose their license via the current points system.
For instance, improper passing and failure to yield right-of-way are worth four points, stoplight violations are worth three points, and so on.
Drivers who accumulate 15 points in any 12-month period or 22 points in a 24-month period will temporarily forfeit their license.
Yet drivers who consistently speed are not subject to license forfeiture. It’s been that way in South Dakota since the 1980s, when the Legislature voted to remove speeding from the points system.
All traffic violations are dangerous, yet we wonder what’s more potentially deadly: Improper U-turn or driving 100 mph in a 65 mph zone?
Get the idea?
Making matters worse is the driving records of some of this state’s most famous politicians, including the late Gov. Bill Janklow, current U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and current Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
As The Daily Republic noted Saturday, the three Republicans have been ticketed a combined 48 times in the past two or so decades. Many of those violations were well above the speed limit.
The state Legislature considered reinstating the points system for speeders, but it was voted down, 39-30.
Among Mitchell-area House members who voted against HB 1170 were Lance Carson, R-Mitchell; Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell; Stace Nelson, R-Fulton; Mitch Fargen, D-Flandreau; Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland; David Scott, R-Geddes; Kim Vanneman, R-Ideal; and Jim White, R-Huron.
Voting in favor of adding speeding to the points system were Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids; Peggy Gibson, D-Huron; James Schaefer, R-Kennebec; Patricia Stricherz, R-Madison; and Ed VanGerpen, R-Avon.
We’re surprised HB 1170 failed, since we see it as a common-sense law that may save a life. As noted in Saturday’s Daily Republic report, very few South Dakotans would be negatively impacted by putting a points system on speeders. Too, it’s a crime that’s easily avoided.
We do not claim to always follow South Dakota’s highway laws ourselves. However, we do not understand how some people can openly flout speeding laws. Most everyone gets caught speeding now and again, but the habitual offenders should face consequences.
As it stands now, speeding is a crime enjoyed by those who can afford the tickets. And when high-profile lawmakers are among the biggest culprits, it just looks bad for South Dakota.
For the sake of safer South Dakota highways, we hope to see a new version of HB 1170 resurface in the coming years.