Speeding points bill passes House, heads to Senate

Unrepentant speeders could soon risk losing their licenses if a bill approved by the South Dakota House Wednesday becomes law.

Rep. Steve Hickey won a slim majority of the House behind his proposal to put speeding back onto the state’s points system, which takes the licenses of drivers who get too many moving violations.

"Fines have not proven to be an effective deterrent in slowing down drivers," Hickey said, telling lawmakers that the threat of losing their licenses would be more effective.

Under the bill, speeding would earn between one and three points against a driver’s license. Licenses are suspended if a driver gets 15 points in any 12-month period.

Hickey said the bill is targeted at a small percentage of drivers who rack up a dozen or more speeding tickets per year, not ordinary people who may speed occasionally.

But plenty of legislators had doubts.

"If this is put into effect, we’re talking about working South Dakotans that now also have to deal with this on the point system," said Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton. "We’re going to hit them doubly hard."

Rep. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs, said people would lose their licenses and then drive with neither license nor insurance in order to get to work.

Hickey and supporters insisted that those objections were misplaced.

"Boo hoo," said Hickey. "Your empathy is misplaced if you’re worried about a guy who doesn’t care about anyone else on the road."

The bill was a “reasonable accommodation,” said Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls.

"Last I checked, the right to drive on our roads is not a God-given right, it’s a privilege," he said.

The House approved Hickey’s speeding bill, House Bill 1080, by a 37-32 vote. It needed 36 votes to pass, and now heads to the Senate.