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Friday, August 29, 2008

Rich Speeders Get Slap On Wrist in AZ

I think it was Ray Charles who once lamented in a song, "Them that got, get." That is well illustrated in a recent law passed by the Arizona Legislature just before they took their break a few weeks ago.

Under the new law, if you are wealthy, you can speed all you want on the state’s highways with no fear of losing your driver’s license or insurance coverage. All you have to do is pay the fine of about $180 when you are caught by one of 100 speed cameras to be erected through a private company, and you are free to hop in your car and do it all over again. If you are poor, the same rule applies but how many average citizens can afford those multiple $180 fines?

In an E. J. Montini column from The Arizona Republic in July, Nicole Mahrt of the American Insurance Association states that "It’s like your politicians have turned highways into toll roads." That is basically what is happening. When a speeder is caught, he/she pays the fine but the ticket does not become part of their permanent record and the information is not made available to their insurance company. They can speed all they want, pay those $180 fines, and be on their way with no penalty. Hey, Governor Napolitano has to work on that deficit somehow, right?

Nicole Mahrt adds that "Insurance is about assessing risk and you need information to do that. This law encourages people to speed and their behavior is not being punished because their insurance company doesn’t hear about it." She is correct, of course, but since when do politicians pass up the chance to pull in another $90 million a year in revenue?

How is this for logic: One lawmaker justified the law by saying that if the speeder knows the ticket will not go on his record, he is more likely to pay the fine. Excuse me? What happened to arresting him for not paying the fine? The law is a joke and they know it.

I’m sure you will feel a lot better now knowing that when that gas sucking Escalade roars around your ‘92 Datsun, he will basically not be punished for speeding other than a fine he can pay out of his pocket change. That’s not too bad. As Montini reported, I feel sorry for the family who has a loved one killed by a speeder who goes unpunished.

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