For the record, I have four fined vehicular infractions in my file:
- 1989: 94 on I-29 in Moody County. Went to court, paid $100.
- 1994: 70-some in Faulk County. $100.
- 1995: 74 on the Norwegian Boulevard in Lake County. $100.
- During this period, the Brookings P.D. also busted me for blowing the stop sign at 8th and Medary. On my bicycle. $20.
Noem is the biggest lawbreaker on the ballot:
Noem has the longest list of violations, including 20 speeding tickets, three stop sign violations, two seat belt violations, and no driver's license. Noem also has six court notices for failure to appear and two arrest warrants.
...Noem's most recent speeding ticket was earlier this year when she was pulled over for driving 94 miles per hour on the interstate [Don Jorgenson, "Noem Not Proud of Driving Record," KELOLand.com, 2010.08.26].
I did 94 on the Interstate when I was a hotheaded 18-year-old, driving with my girlfriend in a fancy black Dodge pickup for the first time. That's not an excuse; that's an explanation of why I got more tickets then than I do now, when I have a wife, a child, and bills to pay.
Noem committed the same irresponsible crime this year, at the mature age of 38. Same county. Same speed... and what the hell: 21 years later, she gets a lower fine than I did?! $76?!?! Boy, I guess good hair does make a difference. [Update: Rapid City Journal reports Noem paid $130 in fine and court costs on February 19. My grumbling is soothed.]
I know Noem wants to beat Herseth Sandlin, but in her flagrant disregard for public safety and the law, Noem is trying a little too hard to be like the last person to beat Herseth Sandlin in an election, leadfoot Governor and convicted man-slaughterer Bill Janklow.
Noem whines that she's "disheartened we're spending time talking about my poor driving record when we could be talking about the economy and jobs." As am I: I wish the GOP candidate weren't a threat to public safety so we could concentrate on solving the nation's problems. But when a itting legislator and political candidate breaks the law so frequently and flagrantly, well, golly, that's news.
Noem mutters that "I'll continue to make sure being diligent and recognizing the fact that this obviously isn't something I'm proud of, something I need to improve." Sure. It's something you need to improve. You do that by taking your damn foot off the gas. You do that by showing up for court when the law tells you. It's not that hard. And there's certainly no excuse.
Update 13:15 CDT: Bob Mercer, whom I think I can safely say is at least not a left-leaning journalist, says Noem is a "habitual lawbreaker" and says short of Noem renouncing her driving privileges for the rest of her political career, this race may have just tilted back to Herseth Sandlin, "perhaps deservedly so." Jordan Fabian at The Hill also says Noem's traffic violations could be a game-changer.