Highway Patrol won't investigate senators' joyride

Posted June 8, 2011 5:23 p.m. EDT
Updated June 8, 2011 7:25 p.m. EDT

— The Highway Patrol said Wednesday that troopers won't be investigating a possible speeding case involving two senators last weekend.

At the end of Monday night's Senate session, Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, told a story on the Senate floor about Sen. Don East, R-Surry, and him speeding along mountain roads on motorcycles and a Dodge Charger STR8.

"Don asked me, 'How far do you think it is to the end of the ramp?' I said, 'Three hundred to 400 yards.' God knows, we were hitting 145 mph by the time we hit the end of that ramp," Bingham told his fellow senators. "So, if any of you do not want a hernia or a hemorrhoid, don't ride with Don in his STR8."

Bingham said Wednesday that he was trying to get some laughs and didn't actually see the speedometer.

"It was just in fun, and I don't want to get Sen. East in trouble over this because, you know, him being a former law enforcement officer," he said. "I apologize. It wasn't intended, and I didn't certainly come down here to break the law."

Sgt. Jorge Brewer, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol, said state law provides immunity to lawmakers for comments made while in session, so there are no plans to investigate whether East broke the law. Brewer also said that the patrol doesn't look into speeding violations that a trooper didn't witness unless a death or injury is involved.

Senators said they took Bingham's story with a grain of salt, noting he has a reputation for exaggeration and as a joker. Still, they said, the story was uncalled for since it came one day after three Rolesville teens were killed in a wreck involving excessive speed.

"Even though he's a funny guy, I don't believe I would have told it," said Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake.

"Speed kills and speed and inexperience combined kill even more, and it's something that should be looked at very seriously," said Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake.