State Sen. Jim Oberweis. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)
Is onetime lead foot state Sen. Jim Oberweis slowing down now that he’s in his eighth decade?
Count us confused.
On the one hand, Oberweis, a Republican who successfully pushed to increase the speed limit to 70 mph on some of the state’s rural highways, now has introduced a bill to raise the limit to 75 mph.
On the other, the 70-year-old Auroran hasn’t been slapped with a speeding ticket since 2012, after he reportedly racked up 11 traffic tickets in the prior 24 years.
So has he changed?
"The answer’s no," Oberweis, the proud owner of a 2017 Cadillac CTS6 with vanity plates, told Chicago Inc. He disputed a 2014 Tribune report that said he had 11 tickets, saying some tickets given to his son were misattributed to him and that his overall record was not bad, but he acknowledged that the tickets he did get were regrettable.
And he promised that, if he gets his way with a 75 mph limit as he did with the 70 mph measure, moves to reset the limit to 80, 90 or 100 mph would not follow.
"That’s it, as far as I’m concerned," he said. "The smart place to put the limit is at the 85th percentile of how fast traffic moves, and 75 mph is just right."
His bill would raise the limit to 75 mph on Interstate Highway 355, Interstate Highway 80, and every interstate west of I-355 and south of I-80, wherever no other local limit applies. Limits also would be raised to 60 mph from 55 mph on all roads with fewer than 4 lanes of traffic that are not interstate highways.
Oberweis said that on the drive down to Springfield to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s budget address Wednesday, "I was driving 74 mph and most of the traffic was speeding past me."
Keeping laws on the books that are widely ignored is bad for the law, in general, he said. But he disputed a rumor that state police turn a blind eye to speeding politicians rushing to Springfield when the House and Senate are in session.
"I’ve seen several other elected officials pulled over at the side of the highway," he said, declining to name names.