Radar guns as cash registers

By Jimmy Currier
Observer staff writer
Published on Saturday, May 30, 2009 11:36 AM MDT
Print this story Email this story Post A Comment Digg del.icio.us
Drivers be warned. Speeding in Rio Rancho will cost you more.

City council adopted stiffer fines for speeding on Wednesday that will go into effect June 8.

Speeding over 35 miles per hour over the posted limit could net you a $459 fine, more than double the $225 fine levied now.

Drivers going 10 miles per hour or less over the limit will be fined $80, opposed to $50 it now costs.

District 1 city councilor Mike Williams amended the proposed fine schedule to lower the fine for speeding 1-10 miles per hour over the limit from $159 to $80.

The amendment came after Chuck Wilkins commented that the fine was too high for speeding 1-10 miles per hour over the limit.

“I’m human and I catch myself going five miles per hour over from time to time down a hill and my concern is the fine for going 1-10 over,” Wilkins said. “If I go 35 over, then I deserve the $400 ticket but it seems really high for 1-10 over.”

Wilkins also pointed out that the fine for careless driving was less than the fine proposed for speeding.

“It’s kind of ridiculous that you can get a careless driving ticket and be charged a $100 fine and get a $120 fine for a speeding ticket,” Williams said.

District 4 councilor Steve Shaw voted against the amendment.

“We are raising the speeding fines to reduce injury and death,” he said.

Shaw, a retired police officer and former Deputy Chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department, explained that speeding increases the probability of injury in a crash.

Rio Rancho had 1,855 crashes from April 2008 to April 2009. Factoring in all the costs and losses of crashes, Shaw estimated it to be nearly $12.6 million.

Also, Shaw said that when he was doing traffic enforcement, when he would pull someone over for going 11 miles per hour over the speed limit, he would drop it one level to 1-10 over.

“I gave them a five-mile-per -hour cushion before even considering pulling them over,” Shaw said. “Unless they were in a school zone.”

Police Chief Bob Boone recommended to the council that fines be increased to bring the city in line with Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The city hasn’t increased fines since 2003.

In a memo to the council, Boone said if the proposed fines were implemented in 2008, it would have generated $162,500 in revenue. Boone presented this to the council two weeks ago and the council approved the first reading. The fines listed in the original schedule included court costs. On Wednesday, Boone presented an updated fine schedule that does not include court costs.

“Our goal is to have compliance in the community,” Boone said. “By raising fines, we will encourage more people to comply.”

Steven Lanfield, a Rio Rancho resident, said in the public comment session that the increased fines won’t deter speeding.

“It won’t do a thing,” he said. “This is just like all the laws against drunk driving and you still have drunk drivers. Leave it the way it is.”

New speeding fines

Old fine in parenthesis

Speeding, basic speed, $80 ($50)

Speeding up to 10 mph over speed limit, $80 ($50)

Speeding, 11-15 mph over speed limit, $170 ($60)

Speeding, 16-20 mph over speed limit, $220 ($80)

Speeding, 21-25 mph over speed limit, $270 ($100)

Speeding, 26-30 mph over speed limit, $320 ($150)

Speeding, 31-35 mph over speed limit, $370, ($175)

Speeding, more than 35 mph over speed limit, $420 ($225)