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.”

Nebraska Judge Says 128 mph Not ‘Reckless’ (AP)

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 — 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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    The court apparently assumed, on what basis I do not know, that reckless-driving laws aren’t also intended to protect the driver.

  2. cirby says:

    The court apparently assumed, on what basis I do not know, that reckless-driving laws aren’t also intended to protect the driver.

    That would be on the basis of “nobody cares what happens to that idiot.”

  3. odograph says:

    You know, if I could be sure I’d get that judge it woudl change my driving habits.

  4. Anderson says:

    But Cirby, what do you want to bet the nut doesn’t have health insurance, and that Medicaid will end up paying for his hospitalization?

    (This is the old argument for seat-belt laws, right? Makes sense as far as it goes. Though now that I’ve mentioned (1) insurance and (2) paternalism, I feel Steve Verdon coming on ….)

  5. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘But Cirby, what do you want to bet the nut doesn’t have health insurance, and that Medicaid will end up paying for his hospitalization?’

    He goes off a bike at 128mph he’s not going to need health insurance any more.

  6. McGehee says:

    “Just keep the gas tank full and make sure it has plenty of oil, and depending on your driving habits you may also want to put a gallon of chlorine in this tank right here.”

    “Why?”

    “That’s for the gene pool.”

  7. Anderson says:

    Good one, McG.

  8. dougrc says:

    This just goes to prove that siblings shouldn’t marry. It creates a very unstable gene pool.

    Oh, which one, the motorcyclist or the judge or the prosecutor?

    Take your pick…

    Nebraskans all over the world must be very proud!