Winter driving woes drive up possible fines

Published: .
Updated: .

As most Hoosiers are looking to put this brutal winter behind them, county emergency planners are thinking ahead to next year.

Several counties are considering stronger enforcement of travel emergencies, including steep fines.

"A lot of people shouldn't have been out there to start with," said Don Sweeney, an Anderson tow yard operator.

It was a busy year for Sweeney's trucks and other towing companies.

"People get stranded and leave their cars in the middle of the road. Then they have got to try to get them plowed out. Wrecker services have to go get the car so they can get them through," he said.

In Madison County, County Commission head John Richwine said it got so bad "we spent so much time going out and rescuing folks that should not have been out and did not adhere to warnings."

So Madison County may start enforcing a state law barring travel during winter driving warnings. That's when only emergency workers should be out.

It carries up to a $1,000 fine.

"I got stopped by a cop. He gave me a bunch of trouble, I'm, like, 'Hey, I'm driving a truck, I've got a lot of weight on the bed. What's the big deal?'," said driver Jordan Goode.

Jordan says he was on his way to drive a private snow plow. Under the state law, police have the discretion whether to charge someone. But a $1,000 fine?

"It's a little bit crazy," said Goode. "I got a ticket for throwing a cigarette out the window. It was like a hundred twenty bucks."

"If you have an emergency, obviously, but you don't need to be on the roads if you don't have to be," said motorist Nathan Hochstetler. "If your boss makes you go to work, what are you going to do?"

"It's fine to have rules," says motorist Adam Zeller. "But it just depends on the situation. A person needs to get somewhere, then they have to get somewhere, no matter what the weather is."