Linn County sheriff calling on lawmakers to help curb reckless driving

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LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) -- Linn County sheriff Brian Gardner wants people to know that handing out tickets isn't stopping people from driving reckless. Instead, it's part of a bigger problem. Gardner said the punishment for excessive speeding (at rates 30 miles per hour) should be raised to a reckless driving violation.

"Harsher penalties should open the public's eyes to the fact that this is wrong," said Gardner.

The Iowa Department of Transportation shows increased speeds played a role in 51 percent of fatalities while impaired driving caused only 22 percent of crashes.

"Speeding has become the primary cause of fatality motor vehicle accidents, that's what's concerning," said Gardner.

Representative Ashley Hinson said the definition of reckless driving in place should be enough to cover speeding to this excess.

"Those penalties do exist but it just comes down to how that language may be interpreted," said Hinson. "I think it's pretty clear if you're going 102, you don't care about everybody around you and their safety. You're just completely disregarding that."

But before supporting a bill, Hinson wants to see more proof it would be worth it.

"My priority is, if we're going to make any changes or add any penalties that make it more severe, I want to see data that basically shows this increase in speeding correlates with a safety concern," said Hinson.

Current law states that if someone is going over 25 mph and gets convicted, the DOT can suspend their driver's license. Past legislation has tried to make it a more severe punishment but its died in committee.