This bill introduces penalties for vehicular damage to covered wooden bridges and for driving over such bridges with vehicles that exceed the posted weight, height, or other dimensional limits. The bill amends RSA 234 by adding a new section, 234:39-a, which outlines the fines and responsibilities for operators who damage covered wooden bridges or violate the posted limits without causing damage. A first violation that results in damage to the bridge incurs a $1000 fine, which can increase to $2000 if the offense substantially impedes traffic. If no damage occurs, the fine is $500, with the same increased fine for impeding traffic. Additionally, the bill holds the vehicle owner responsible for the full cost of bridge repairs, with a civil penalty for non-payment within 30 days. Towing a trailer or other vehicle is also considered a violation when a bridge is posted with a "nothing in tow" sign or similar restriction.

The bill also amends RSA 234:41, RSA 266:16, and RSA 266:25 to reflect the new penalties specific to covered wooden bridges, ensuring that fines and civil penalties are determined under the new RSA 234:39-a. The amendments include insertions that specify exceptions to the general penalties for vehicular dimensions and weight violations, directing them to the new section for covered wooden bridges. The bill also notes that all fines collected under this section will benefit the municipality or agency responsible for the bridge. The act is set to take effect on January 1, 2025, and the fiscal note indicates that there is an indeterminable impact on state, county, and local expenditures, with no expected impact on revenue. The bill may affect the judicial and correctional systems, potentially influencing prosecution, incarceration, probation, and parole costs.

Statutes affected:
Introduced: 234:41, 266:16, 266:25
Version adopted by both bodies: 234:41, 266:16, 266:25