New Idaho Bill Changes School Zone Fines

COEUR D’ALENE — School zones in Idaho could become a little more expensive for North Idaho speeders. A new Senate bill could boost the fee for speeding in a school zone by $75.

The bill passed through the Idaho Senate on Tuesday by a 29 to five vote. It now goes to the house for approval.

Highway workers currently enjoy the protections afforded by enhanced fines in work zones. Senator John Goedde, a Coeur D’Alene a republican who is sponsoring the bill, says constituents have asked him for help in giving school kids similar protections.

The bill also proposes that a speed-limit signs in school zones will have to inform drivers where the zone is, what the speed limit is, and the hours of the day when the limit is in effect.

Senator Jim Hammond, a school principal, says the increased fine will add incentive for people to slow down.

Senator Goedde hopes Senator Hammond is right.

“We know that enhanced penalties work, especially when those penalties exceed $100,” Goedde said.

Senator Goedde sites Washington’s seatbelt law as a prime example.

When Washington passed a seatbelt amendment in 2002 increasing the fine for not wearing a seatbelt to $86, seat belt usage went up to 82-84% among drivers. After Washington increased the penalty to over $100, usage went up to 96%.

“I suggest that the enhanced penalty for speeding in school zones will have a similar response,” said Goedde.

Idaho already enforces strict speeding laws when it comes to work zones, Senator Goedde wants the same thing for Idaho children.

“We currently provide similar protection to construction workers in a construction zone; it only makes sense that we afford our children the same protection,” he said.

Another change the bill deals with is inserting a definition for “when children are present”.

A North Idaho judge ruled that since the word “children” is in plural form, it would not apply if only one child was present. Senator Goedde wants this to change.

“We incorporated a part of the City of Boise’s language that expressly states, for the purpose of this section, children can mean one child,” said Goedde.

Idaho Senators are sending a clear message to drivers. Slow down or pay up.