According to New Hampshire law, driving in excess of 15MPH over the posted speed limit is considered to be ‘excessive speeding’. Such a designation could allow police officers and judges to punish drivers more harshly than they would for a more minor speeding offense. RSA 265:79 defines a ‘serious traffic violation’ as ‘excessive speeding’, reckless driving, vehicular manslaughter, homicide, and driving while intoxicated. One Republican Representative is attempting to change the definition for ‘excessive speeding’ in the state’s penal code.
In addition to proposing a bill that would seemingly turn New Hampshire’s tolls into automated speeding ticket traps, a Republican Representative has proposed HB1137, which would decrease the threshold at which a driver is considered to be ‘excessively speeding’. Currently, that threshold is 15MPH over the posted speed limit. This bill changes the threshold to just 10MPH and 5MPH whenever the posted speed limit is 70MPH.
The punishments for ‘excessive speeding’ are not concrete and are up to the discretion of cops and judges. The penalties could include massive fines, points and suspensions of your license, or other punishments. New Hampshire generally has a ‘per se’ speed limit law. Unlike ‘absolute’ speed limit laws found in some states, this means that a driver driving faster than the posted speed limit is not necessarily guilty, whereas the same driver in the other type of state might be. Of course, all of this is hardly relevant because police and judges have nearly 100% discretion in regards to traffic convictions. If they want to convict you of ‘reckless driving’, nothing stops them from doing so, and such a charge is entirely subjective. What this bill does seem to do is make it much more acceptable for police to pull you over and for judges to convict and punish you for driving just 5MPH over the arbitrary ‘posted speed limit’.
If you believe that commuters who drive 5MPH over the posted speed limit should be chased down, pulled over, harassed, punished, extorted, and thrown into the same category as drunk drivers and killers, you should email the bill’s sponsor and the Transportation committee to let them know that they should support the bill.