Utah Senate bill looks at stiffer fines, harsher punishments for excessive speeding, reckless driving

Posted at 6:02 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 21:18:23-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A state Senate bill will impose tougher punishment and heavier fines for those who drive recklessly and at excessive speeds.

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Utah Highway Patrol says they have stayed busy writing citations for excessive speed — over 100 miles per hour — for the past few years.

UHP Col. Michael Rapich says in the three years prior to 2020, they would average about 3,500 citations a year for speeding over 100. In the last two years, he says, they have seen a 40% increase.

"If you look at the average over just the last two years, that has increased to 5,000 on average," he said.

Rapich says they have also seen more deaths on the roads. After hitting a six-year low in 2019, he says they are now at a 20-year high for highway fatalities.

"We had 328 people who were killed on our highways or roadways last year," he added.

That's why the UHP is in support of Senate Bill 53, which cracks down on both excessive speeding and reckless driving.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay. If passed, it would bring some stiffer fines for people who are caught driving 100 mph or more.

"It would increase by 1.5 times the amount — 50% more," Iwamoto said. "For instance... if it were 25 mile-per-hour speed limit and you go over 100, it would be more."

The bill also elevates speeding over 105 miles per hour to the crime of reckless driving.

"The bill is on reckless driving and the extreme consequences that it is causing to lives, the danger and properties and businesses," said Sen. Iwamoto.

Col. Rapich says it is not the intent of the Utah Highway Patrol to write more tickets.

"The concern we have is we are having to write too many," he said. "Hopefully the intent of this will bring attention to the seriousness, that people will make the voluntary decision to not engage in that kind of driving behavior."

Sen. Iwamoto's bill also includes more punishments for illegal street racing. Under this bill, someone would have their license suspended for 60 days after the first offense. For a second offense, it would be 90 days if it is within three years of the prior offense.