Wyoming Drivers May See Harsher Consequences For Ignoring Closed Roads
Blowing snow in Wyoming causes road closers. That's just part of living in this state.
But some people ignore those closures and give it a go anyway.
That's not a problem until they get stuck and need rescuing.
That costs a lot of time and money and puts the lives of the rescuers at risk.
Also, many people have lost their lives on Wyoming roads because they got stuck in snow drifts, in sub-zero temperatures, and nobody knew it.
The only thing lawmakers can think to do is pass a bill to make the outcome stricter for those who ignore closures.
That might be as simple as removing the word ‘willfully’ and adding ‘disobeys’ or ‘disregards’ road closures to the current law.
Josh Walther, lieutenant colonel with the Wyoming Highway Patrol, testified to the House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee on Wed. Jan. 18. He said the new changes would give more teeth to the law. He gave the example of Teton Pass, where there are usually six large signs indicating the road is closed.
“To say you missed them is pretty rough,” Walther said. “But again, folks are standing in court and saying, ‘Well, it wasn't willful, I didn't willfully fail to observe the sign, you know, and so it gets dropped.’” (Wyoming Public Media).
But some lawmakers rather like the idea of letting people make their own decisions and just letting them deal with the consequences of their actions.
“We're stopping people from going home to their families is basically what it amounts to, and I understand the safety aspect of it, but, are we going to, for lack of a better term, baby, everybody who drives on our roads?” (Rep. Dalton Banks (R-Cowley).
The current fine for ignoring road closures is up to $750 or imprisonment of up to 30 days.
Changing that amount was discussed but then it was decided that the amount of the fine was not the issue.