Nebraska Judge: 128 Miles Per Hour Not Reckless Driving
A Nebraska judge ruled last week that driving 128 miles per hour on one’s motorcycle while fleeing from state troopers does not necessarily constitute “reckless driving.”
Speeding is not necessarily reckless, even at 128 mph, a judge ruled in the case of a motorcyclist who tried to flee from state troopers. With some reluctance, County Judge John Steinheider ruled last week that Jacob H. Carman, 20, was not guilty of reckless driving on Sept. 5, when he was spotted by a trooper who then chased him at the top speed of his cruiser’s odometer Ã¢€” 128 mph. “As much as it pains me to do it, speed and speed alone is not sufficient to establish reckless driving,” the judge told Carman on Friday. “If you had had a passenger, there would be no question of conviction. If there had been other cars on the roadway, if you would’ve went into the wrong lane or anything, I would have convicted you.”
Otoe County prosecutor David Partsch acknowledged that Carman could have been charged with speeding but, “We felt that the manner in which he was operating the motorcycle was reckless.” Carman didn’t get off entirely. He was fined $300 for expired tags and other violations.
Steinheider is right. Recklessness has to be weighed against the totality of circumstances rather than the posted speed limit. In some states, driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit is automatically deemed “reckless.” Considering that people routinely drive at that speed in heavy traffic, that’s absurd on its face.
On the other hand, driving 128 mph to evade chasing police officers is not the same as doing it for the thrill of speed. One would think felony charges for resisting arrest or the like would be brought rather that issuance of a traffic citation.