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Indianapolis Will Test Speeder's Sanity; West Is Turning to Drastic Penalties

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Indianapolis Will Test Speeder's Sanity; West Is Turning to Drastic Penalties

The New York Times
December 7, 1922

CHICAGO, Dec. 6. (Associated Press)—Heavier fines, jail sentences and trips through morgues and hospitals to view the dead and injured victims of reckless automobilists are becoming effective curbs in many parts of the Middle and Far West, a digest of reports from several States shows.

Fines alone, the reports indicate, are not effective.  In Chicago and Cook County, despite increasingly heavy fines, the death toll in automobile accidents for the fiscal year ended Nov. 30, was 736, as compared with 660 last year and 542 the year before.  There were seventy-five automobile deaths in November of this year.

In Louisville, where forty-one persons were killed by automobiles in the first eleven months of the year, fines also have failed, officials say.  One police judge there imposes fines of $2 for each mile per hour on speeders, and adds jail sentences if the driver was intoxicated.

A successful campaign was launched in Detroit more than a year ago when Judge Charles L. Bartlett began sending speeders to jail for terms of one to fifteen days.  Among those sentenced was John Duval Dodge, a wealthy young man, who served five days.  Recently speeding was renewed in Detroit and Judge Bartlett began conducting offenders through the morgues and hospitals to see the results of speeding.  Arrests the week after the trips started dropped from seventy-five to twenty-five.

A sanity test will be made for all persons arrested in Indianapolis for speeding, Mayor Samuel Shank of that city announced today.  The Mayor made this announcement after Judge Wilmeth in the City Court had imposed light fines on a number of speeders.  Persons arrested and held for an examination by the Sanity Commission, the Mayor said, would be held in jail until they were examined, the State law providing that persons held for sanity tests cannot give bond.  In announcing this plan for holding speeders for an insanity test, the Mayor said that they would be placed in padded cells, which are now used for the insane.

Cleveland, with 116 deaths and 2,386 injuries in traffic accidents up to the middle of November, is imposing workhouse sentences and the requirement of morgue and hospital visits, as well as fines.

Judge George E. Mix of St. Louis, who assesses fines as high as $300, has added a traffic law school to his court.

Judge W. F. Wappick of Omaha takes groups of speeders to hospitals in the police patrol wagon to see their victims and then assess fines.

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