A bill being considered by Wyoming lawmakers would reduce the cost of speeding.
House Bill 12, which passed by a unanimous vote in the Joint Judiciary Committee in November, aims to rewrite Wyoming’s uniform bond schedule to simplify how tickets are written and lower their amounts. A court-authorized bond is issued to correspond to a speeding ticket. A driver can go to court to contest the citation or choose to pay the bond and waive his or her court appearance.
The current bond schedule consists of nine different speeding categories, depending on where the driver is clocked. Those categories range from unpaved roadways to urban districts to school zones and a single category can consist of up to 40 different bond amounts.
“It’s confusing for the patrol. It’s confusing for the court. It’s confusing for the public,” said Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs.
The proposed legislation would tear up the current bond schedule, keeping in place special bond amounts for school and construction zones. The new bond schedule would consist of three different subcategories — general, school and construction — with bond amounts increasing in a relatively linear fashion dependent on speed.
Those amounts would generally decrease compared to the current bond schedule.
Under the current system, a driver speeding by 5 mph in a city can pay $80, on an unpaved road pays $40, and on a highway pays $25.
The proposed schedule would eliminate that discrepancy, and set all fines of speeding by 5 mph at $20. Court costs and fees would not apply for charges of speeding by 5 mph or less.
The legislation would also cap fines upon conviction at $800, down $200 from the current max, which can be imposed on someone who is caught speeding in a school zone multiple times in one year.
The legislation was born of a Wyoming Highway Patrol request for simplified bond schedules, Baggs said. After the legislation came before the committee, three amendments were floated and two passed to reduce the bond amounts across the board.
Hicks said the legislation would still provide a “reasonable deterrent” to speeding while not being exorbitant.
After simplifying the bond schedules, the committee went on to amend the legislation to reduce fine amounts.
Committee Chair, Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, said the reduction in fine amounts could in part be attributed to legislators’ awareness of Wyoming’s slow economy.
Lower fine amounts come with a cost, however. The Legislative Services Office estimates that the bill would cost the state about $750,000 per year. Because the money from speeding tickets typically goes to county schools, the bill would cut about $1.5 million over two years from an already beleaguered school funding system.
Speaking generally about the cost of the bill, Christensen said the legislation did not cut the cost of speeding as much as some might estimate because court costs will still be imposed for most speeding tickets.
The bill has been sponsored by a committee, but still needs to be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature to be considered because 2018 is a budget session. If passed, it would become law in July.