EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 28, 2012

Judge: Freezer on fritz isn't statutory emergency

By John Toole

---- — SALEM – Saving dinner at Tuscan Kitchen is no excuse for speeding, a judge ruled yesterday.

Leonard Thomas Jr. of Methuen told Judge Robert Stephen, presiding in 10th Circuit Court yesterday, he got the ticket while rushing to provide a part for a malfunctioning freezer on Easter Sunday.

The judge acknowledged while saving the restaurant food was "a noble purpose," it did not meet the emergency test under New Hampshire law.

"The situation is not an emergency under statute," Stephen said.

Salem Officer Nick Turner testified his radar clocked Thomas traveling between 62 mph and 67 mph on Route 28, where the speed limit is 30 mph.

"I don't know how fast I was going. I was moving with traffic," Thomas testified in appealing to the court for leniency.

Thomas told the judge he was trying to avoid losing his license and was willing to take a safe driving course instead.

Turner was asked the reason Thomas gave for speeding.

"He claimed his shoelace was caught in the accelerator," the officer said.

A conviction for speeding at 62 mph in that zone could have resulted in a fine of as much as $1,000 and potential loss of license for 30 days.

Stephen initially was sympathetic to Thomas, despite the shoelace argument, lowering the speeding offense to 42 mph, which resulted in a $77.50 fine.

But the judge had second thoughts after police prosecutor Jason Grosky asked him to look closely at Thomas's driving record.

Stephen did not like what he saw: speeding tickets from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida.

"Your history is incredible, really," the judge told Thomas.

Stephen ruled loss of license was appropriate in this situation and ordered it for 30 days, effective 5 p.m. yesterday.