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2/24/2008
New Hampshire May Suspend Driving License of Lost Hikers
Hikers who get lost in New Hampshire could have their driving license suspended.

Hikers in New Hampshire
Motorists with a bad sense of direction could lose their license in New Hampshire even if they leave their car at home. A bill making its way through the state legislature would suspend the driver's license of anyone who gets lost while hiking and is unable to pay the large fees imposed for a rescue operation. State Representative David H. Kidder (R-New London) introduced the measure to help the state government collect more money from hikers who are not adequately prepared for the conditions.

"Unfortunately, a small number of those hikers aren't prepared for the terrain or the weather and lack equipment or experience they need to hike safely," the state Fish and Game Department explains on its website.

Such hikers already can be billed up to $10,000 for "recklessly" becoming lost under a law that took effect in 1999. The new legislative proposal would lower that standard to "negligently" and allow suspension not only of a driver's license but the business license of any corporation involved in the hike.

Motorists already fund the rescue of hikers with a $1 tax imposed on recreational vehicles. With up to 200 rescues per year, the lowered standard could generate a maximum of $2 million in additional revenue for the Fish and Game Department.

Article Excerpt:
HOUSE BILL 1648-FN

AN ACT relative to search and rescue response expenses of the fish and game department.

SPONSORS: Rep. Kidder, Merr 1; Rep. Skinder, Sull 1

ANALYSIS

This bill allows the fish and game department to recover the cost of search and rescue responses from persons who negligently require search and rescue services. The department is authorized to suspend the driver's license and other licenses of a person failing to pay.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eight

AN ACT relative to search and rescue response expenses of the fish and game department.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Fish and Game Department; Powers; Search and Rescue. Amend RSA 206:26, XII to read as follows:

XII. To conduct search and rescue operations in woodlands and inland waters and to provide security at the sites thereof, and to enforce recovery of expenses under RSA 206:26-bb;

2 New Section; Search and Rescue Response Expenses; Recovery. Amend RSA 206 by inserting after section 26-b the following new section:

206:26-bb Search and Rescue Response Expenses; Recovery.

I. Any person determined by the department to have acted negligently in requiring a search and rescue response by the department shall be liable to the department for the reasonable cost of the department's expenses for such search and rescue response. The executive director shall bill the responsible individual, firm, or corporation for such costs. Payment shall be made to the department within 30 days after the receipt of the bill, or by some other date determined by the executive director. If any person shall fail or refuse to pay the costs by the required date, the department may pursue payment in an independent legal action, or by settlement or compromise, and the responsible individual, firm, or corporation shall be liable for interest from the date that the bill is due and for legal fees and costs incurred by the department in obtaining and enforcing judgment under this paragraph. All amounts recovered shall be paid into the fish and game fund.

II. If any person fails to make payment under paragraph I, the executive director of the fish and game department may:

(a) Order any license, permit, or tag issued by the fish and game department to be suspended or revoked, after due hearing.

(b) Notify the appropriate state agency for suspension of any individual, firm, or corporate license issued by the state. This shall include directing the department of safety to suspend the person's driver's license pursuant to RSA 263:56 and certifying to any professional or corporation licensing board or commission of the individual's, firm's, or corporation's failure to comply with this section. The professional or corporation licensing board or commission shall suspend or revoke any license, or undertake disciplinary action against the licensee.

3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.


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