Helena police crack down on cut-through drivers

Published 11:40 am Monday, January 12, 2009

Drivers looking for shortcuts to avoid traffic might just want to avoid Helena altogether.

The city recently passed an ordinance aimed at cracking down on drivers who cut through parking lots or subdivisions.

Helena Police Lt. Ivy Penhale said such cut-through drivers are dangerous to subdivision residents because they’re often speeding.

“(Such drivers) tend to be a hurry, trying to get from point A to point B,” he said. “They tend to run stop signs. It becomes dangerous for citizens, their children or anyone else who is legitimately there.”

Penhale said while cut-through driving was always a problem, the police have seen an increase since the new Helena Middle School opened last fall.

To combat the problem, officers are posted in the subdivisions and close by during rush hours in hopes of slowing people down.

“The citizens wanted this in place,” Penhale said. “They were seeing a lot of (cut-through driving) going on in the rush hour in morning and afternoon.”

For those caught cutting through, the penalty for a first-time offense is $25. For a second-time offender, it’s $100 plus 20 hours of community service. For someone caught cutting through for a third time within a 12-month span, the penalty is $200 and 40 hours of community service.

Penhale said the people that are caught cutting through are a diverse group.

“It’s a little bit of everyone,” he said. “People are on their way to work or the grocery store, just in a hurry.”