COLUMBUS - State troopers issued 1,416 speeding tickets last year to drivers going more than 100 mph, an offense that Ohio labels a minor misdemeanor and is punishable by a $150 fine.
In Ohio, local judges have leeway to impose court costs and other fines for speeding and reckless operation, another common charge in speeding cases that is also a misdemeanor in Ohio.
Madison County Municipal Judge David Picken said he recently ordered a motorcyclist who clocked 167 mph to the maximum punishment the charges warranted - fines totaling $440, a six-month license suspension, and a court-ordered driver's safety course. He felt it wasn't enough.
"A speed like that should warrant more," Judge Picken said. "That's ludicrous, and it's blatant ignorance of regard for life and limb."
Judges in Virginia have recently begun jailing drivers ticketed for going faster than 90 mph. Beginning this year in Hawaii, jail time or community service is required for any speed higher than 80 mph, according to the National Motorists Association.
In Kentucky, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, high speeds can earn a driver an automatic license suspension. In Tennessee and New Mexico, speeds over 100 mph automatically assess eight points on a license.
A standard Ohio speeding ticket adds two points to a driving record, but a driver is usually assessed four points for a violation that's 20 mph or more over the speed limit.
Under state law, a driver's license is suspended when 12 points have been accumulated within a two-year period.
While jail isn't an option, some judges require speeders to make a court appearance. For example, no one caught driving over 30 mph over the speed limit near Circleville - about 25 miles south of Columbus - can just mail in their fine.
"I want to look them in the eye and have a little remediation chat," Circleville Municipal Judge John Adkins said.
An analysis of Ohio police records by the Columbus Dispatch showed that unsafe speed contributed to 14 percent of the 70,895 crashes investigated by the Highway Patrol in 2006.
Most of those ticketed were driving high-performance automobiles such as BMWs, Audis, and Acuras. However, troopers say even compact family cars like Kias can reach triple-digit speeds.
Police records showed one person was ticketed for driving at least 100 mph in a 35-mph zone in 2006, and six drivers were cited for reaching triple digits in 45-mph zones. The top speed of all recorded citations in 2006 was 135 mph, clocked by a motorcyclist on a smooth, flat stretch of Route 33 near Lancaster in central Ohio.
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