S.D Bill Would Seal Driving Records of Police, Fire, Ambulance Employees

January 31, 2007

The South Dakota House passed a bill this week that would close the driving records of firefighters, police, ambulance employees and other emergency personnel when they have accidents on duty.

That would insulate those public servants from higher insurance rates.

Rep. Maggie Gillespie, D-Hudson, said police and rescue workers often must drive in bad conditions, and they shouldn’t be penalized when accidents occur.

“We’re asking them to drive under circumstances that are perhaps life-threatening, risky, either answering to the call of duty to the rescue of another citizen or seeking apprehension of a violator,” she said.

“They must be lawfully engaged in the performance of their duties, and they must be driving an official vehicle,” Gillespie added.

Rep. Marc Feinstein, D-Sioux Falls, said the measure should not be passed because it adds to government secrecy.

“It’s another nail in the coffin of open government,” he said.

Rep. Tim Rave, R-Baltic, urged approval of the bill. Emergency workers should not have to worry about ruining their driving records while on duty, he said.

“Even if you stop at the red light, which I might add you have to do, you stop at the red light, look both ways, somebody can blast through, T-bone you, you still have a mark on your record,” Rave said.

HB1016, passed 62-7 by the House, now goes to the state Senate.

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