Bad drivers can't count on getting a break
You may be getting a bit of a break from Red Willow County, but if a bill now pending in the Legislature makes it into law, don't take it for granted.
After resisting it for years as too lenient, County Attorney Paul Wood persuaded the county commissioners to allow authorities to offer the STOP program -- "Safety Training Option Program" to drivers with minor offenses to complete an eight-hour driving class rather than going through Red Willow County Court.
Drivers really won't get away with anything -- besides the eight-hour class commitment, they'll pay $75 to the private company coordinating the program and providing instructors, $60 the county and $44 in court costs -- their ticket will still go to court in case they don't complete the STOP program.
Wood said new state guidelines make the program more consistent, there's a higher speed limit resulting in fewer fines, and there are fewer schools to benefit from the cash the tickets bring in. Plus, McCook Community College will gain new students, since the private company administering the program, Traffic Safety Plus, will conduct the classes through the school.
But don't count on going through the STOP program if you've left the scene of an accident, driven while intoxicated or under suspension, been involved in a drag race, injury accident, have no insurance or have had multiple offenses.
Or tried to outrun the cops.
If one state senator has his way, that last offense could get you a felony conviction.
Currently, the charge for fleeing depends on the initial crime -- if it's a misdemeanor, the additional charge also is, carrying a fine of up to a year in jail.
LB624, which received first-round approval Tuesday, would make a felony of any chase that causes death or injury, involves the reckless operation of a vehicle or is the second violation for fleeing arrest.