A vote on a proposed new bill that would increase penalties for wrong-way drivers was recently postponed because some legislators felt it was extreme. The provision causing controversy is one that imposes a one-year mandatory license suspension for any driver traveling more than 500 feet in the wrong direction. An additional such violation results in one year in jail.
If death or serious injuries result from the wrong-way driving, the license suspension period increases to between two to 10 years. Subsequent violations are classified as third-degree felonies with a potential three year prison sentence.
Negative reactions to the proposed bill
The current penalty in Ohio for wrong-way driving is a fine of $150 and points against a driver’s license. Some legislators feel the penalties in the proposed bill are too severe, noting that current law already imposes higher penalties for drivers who kill or injure others, while this law punishes drivers who are not impaired.
One senator conceded that wrong-way driving is “foolish, stupid and negligent” but pointed out the difficulties produced by a license suspension. Drivers with suspended licenses may lose their jobs because they cannot get to work, making it difficult for them to support their families.
Implications for reducing car accidents
According to current data, Ohio reported 32 wrong-way crashes resulting in five deaths in 2011. Additionally, two wrong-way crashes in two weeks claimed six lives early in 2012 and prompted the proposed bill.
Supporters of the bill say it is understandable for drivers to accidentally make wrong turns or go the wrong way down a one-way street, but they note that anyone who travels a significant distance in the wrong direction is a different story.
Supporters of the bill hope that increasing penalties for wrong-way driving will result in a reduction of car accidents due to inattentive driving. The bill was will be scheduled for an additional hearing.
A car accident carries serious consequences; individuals often experience difficulty dealing with the multitude of complications resulting from an accident due to someone else’s negligence.
An individual who suffers injuries in a car accident can benefit from an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney can offer advice on what to do after the accident and assist with obtaining possible compensation for both past and future damages.