Speed law fits crime with proper penalties
A new law increases fines and adds license suspensions and possible jail time as penalties for speeding.
HEAVY-FOOTED drivers who shrug off fines as the price of their need for speed should know that come Jan. 1, they will pay a lot more
-- and lose the privilege of being behind the wheel. A bill signed by Governor Lingle changes Hawaii law that previously allowed habitual speed freaks to continue their dangerous behavior by simply paying a fine.
The new law increases punishment, most effectively by suspending driver's licenses and imposing jail terms. It also bumps up fines and the hours of community service offenders must perform.
The intent is to remove chronic speeders from isle roadways.
On the first offense, a driver going more than 30 mph over the speed limit or 80 mph on any roadway in Hawaii will face a $500 to $1,000 fine, where before repeated convictions brought only a $225 fine for traveling at 99 mph in a 35 mph zone. Under the new law, first offenders also will have their licenses suspended for 15 to 30 days and face a choice of 36 hours of community service or two to five days in jail.
Fines go up on second offenses, with speeders being tagged for $750 to $1,000 and losing their licenses for 30 days. Community service and jail time also rise to 120 hours or five to 14 days behind bars.
A third conviction in a five-year stretch will draw a $1,000 fine and as much as a year's suspension of a license and 10 to 30 days in jail, with no option for community service.
Those who think they can get away with their risky conduct also should be warned that the federal government has provided funds that the Honolulu Police Department will use to enforce the new law.
Speeding was a factor in nearly half of traffic fatalities on Oahu so far this year, a marked increase over last year's numbers. If the new penalties aren't enough to curb irresponsible drivers, they should think about the loss of life that could result from going too fast.
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