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March 7, 2014

N.H. Senate ups penalty for speeding 100 mph

Senate OKs bill targeting drivers going 100 mph or more

CONCORD — New Hampshire lawmakers are prepared to take extreme steps to stop extreme speeders.

The Senate passed a bill yesterday that makes speeding 100 mph or more an act of reckless driving that could result in jail time.

Senate Bill 246 passed on a voice vote and now moves to the House.

The bill upgrades the offense from a simple violation under state law to an unspecified misdemeanor. That would give a prosecutor discretion to seek jail time of up to a year.

It provides for a minimum fine of $500 and loss of license for 60 days for first offense. A second offense would result in a fine of at least $750 and the driver would lose his license for 60 days to one year.

The bill would take effect 60 days after passage.

“This bill protects our citizens from others that endanger the public,” said Rep. Brian Chirichiello, R-Derry, a House co-sponsor of the bill. “We have seen stories of people speeding excessively over the last few years with no penalty other than fines.”

Sen. Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, the prime sponsor, said she introduced the bill at the state Department of Safety’s request.

“Driving at these speeds is irresponsible and reckless behavior,” Gilmour said. “This is an important safety measure and this bill establishes a stronger penalty to ensure the message is sent loud and clear.”

Last year, N.H. state police said they are seeing more cases of extreme speeding, with at least one person a month stopped for driving 120 mph to 130 mph. They said they are stopping one person a day who is driving 90 mph to 100 mph.

One day alone last May, police stopped three drivers exceeding 100 mph on state highways.

“Gov. Hassan supports efforts to improve the safety of our roadways by addressing excessive speeding and appreciates the focus on the issue by the members of the Senate,” said her communications director, Marc Goldberg. “She will review any final legislation as it reaches her desk, but she is likely to sign the measure.”

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