CHURCH HILL — Church Hill Police Chief Mark Johnson said Wednesday he’d like to see stiffer penalties for motorists who speed excessively and into triple digits on Tennessee roadways.
Early Tuesday morning, Church Hill police received a report to be on the lookout for a motorcycle traveling at a high rate of speed coming from Kingsport toward Church Hill on Highway 11-W.
Church Hill Police Department Sgt. Chad Mosely was at the intersection of Highway 11-W and Silver Lake Road about 12:20 a.m. when he heard the motorcycle.
Mosely stated in his report that he activated radar and observed the motorcycle to be traveling at 111 mph in a 55 mph zone. He activated his blue lights and pulled the motorcycle over.
The driver, Gregory Allen Parks, 21, 734 Ordnance Drive, Apt. A-1, Church Hill, was taken into custody and charged with reckless driving, a Class A misdemeanor.
Parks most likely faces a fine if found guilty, as well as a negative mark on his driving record that will impact his liability insurance premiums for years to come.
But Johnson said Wednesday he believes the penalty should be more severe for motorists who put other people’s lives at risk by driving that fast.
“It is becoming more and more frequent that we’re experiencing vehicles — especially motorcycles — in excess of 100 mph,” Johnson said. “We’ll continue to prosecute them to the full extent of the law, but I might talk with our state legislators next year to see if they want to enhance the speeding statute in terms of going over a certain mile per hour. I’m not saying make it a felony, but make it a crime that’s punishable by more than just a fine.
“Maybe look at automatic revocation of the driver’s license or seizing vehicles.”
East Hawkins County’s worst problem area for excessive speeding seems to be from the last westbound red light in Allandale to the first Church Hill red light at Silver Lake Road.
“You expect people to get up a little speed going that far without a red light, but we’ve had three or four in the past couple of months over 100 mph,” Johnson said. “I just feel like until there’s more than just a fine to be paid and a few points on the driver’s license, people are probably going to keep doing that just for the thrill. Until you get into people’s pocketbooks or disrupt their daily living routines, issuing citations won’t have much of an effect.”