Fines for high-speed drivers in Oregon more than doubled at the turn of the new year, allowing two drivers caught racing down Highway 82 on Dec. 26 to barely get off the hook.
At 11:40 a.m., Michael Temple, Portland, and Tyler Long, Welches, were travelling through Cricket Flats at speeds of up to 110 mph in a 55 mph zone, according to Oregon State Police Sgt. Randy Palmer.
Along with driving with a suspended license charge for Long, the men will be hit with a racing charge and an over 100-mph speeding fine of $421 - rather than the heftier fine of $1,103 in place now.
"The higher fines were instituted to curb aggressive driving," Palmer said. "At over 100 miles per hour the potential for a fatality (in a crash) is 100 percent.
Unless you're in a NASCAR vehicle, cars aren't meant to be safe at that speed."
Long had a friend and two children in car seats riding with him, he said. Determining a case is reckless driving - an arrestable offense - is a judgement call and didn't apply in this case because the roads were clear, traffic was light and the officer didn't want to put two children out in the cold weather.
Palmer also said new rules only allow judges to reduce fines 25 percent. Before, they were allowed to reduce them as much as they wanted.
Fines given for speeding in school, safety and work zones cannot be reduced at all any more, he said.
In addition to high-speed driving, all other classes of moving violation fines were each increased between $4 to $6.
Palmer said high-speed, aggressive driving has been increasing throughout the state, along with more head-on collisions.
The official state crash report for 2005 hasn't been released yet, he said.
In recent years, law enforcement has abandoned the term "accident," replacing it with the word "crash" to better reflect the nature of most vehicle incidents.
"We don't call it an accident any more because 99 percent of these crashes are avoidable," Palmer said.