Has this happened to you? You’re driving along an expressway at or slightly above the speed limit and, without warning, a car passes you and cuts in front of you, missing you by inches, and continues on at a speed so excessive you feel you are standing still, and it repeats the process each time it approaches another vehicle. I have to believe that drivers of these vehicles cause far more than their fair share of accidents, some being immediately due to the terror they strike in other motorists, who may react erratically, and others because they misjudge and hit other vehicles and fail to negotiate turns and other hazards more often than most drivers.
In Ontario recently, on the Queen Elizabeth Way, a major highway, I noticed large billboards advising that drivers exceeding the speed limit by 50% would be subject to a CAD 10,000 fine (about $7,700 US) and immediate license suspension and vehicle impoundment.
Whether such a policy here would withstand a due process challenge is not entirely clear. The fine, presumably imposed by a judge after a trial, could be challenged as excessive, but evidence of the disproportionate danger speeding at that level produces would probably justify it. The immediate license suspension and vehicle impoundment gives a single officer a lot of discretion. However, if a radar speed measurement is required, and immediate judicial review provided, that might be enough, given the great danger to which the penalty is directed and the high excessive speed required, for which it is hard to imagine any motorist having a valid excuse. New York courts have upheld a “prompt suspension” law for those charged with DWI, but it is not as prompt as the Canadian measure, calling for a judge to first sustain the validity of an accusatory instrument. Whether the courts here would approve a measure as strict as Ontario’s is not clear, but it may be worthwhile to find out.