Penalty reduction proposed for obstruction of a driver’s view

Placing or hanging objects in a vehicle that obstruct or interfere with the view of the operator would become a secondary offense under a bill advanced from general file April 11.

Currently, operating a vehicle with such objects is a Class V misdemeanor, which calls for a maximum fine of $100.

LB500, introduced by Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook, would downgrade this violation to a traffic infraction. Violators would be charged one point on their driving records and fined $50 for first offenses, $100 for second offenses and $150 for subsequent offenses.

The bill would make the enforcement of the law a secondary action, meaning the driver first would have to be cited or charged with some other violation.

“Our constituents should not face a traffic stop or a criminal record because of an air freshener, rosary or the ubiquitous pair of fuzzy dice,” Cook said, adding that an Omaha Police Safety Auditor report found that stops for windshield obstruction disproportionately affect minority groups.

After adopting a Transportation and Telecommunications Committee amendment 35-0 to restrict windshield obstruction to objects that “significantly and materially” obstruct or interfere with the view of a driver, lawmakers voted 32-0 to advance LB500 from general file.

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