Pedestrians soon may want to think twice before dashing across a Santa Fe street.
Faced with a significant number of jaywalking deaths and injuries, Santa Fe city officials are considering toughening up penalties for the petty misdemeanor.
A new ordinance would mandate that jaywalkers answer for their crimes by appearing in Municipal Court, a move that could mean up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.
Currently, jaywalkers are fined $25 and can pay the penalty, which includes an additional $56 in fees, by mail.
“This puts a little more ‘oomph'” into the law and says “we’re taking it a little more seriously,” Municipal Court Judge Ann Yalman told the city’s Public Works Committee on Tuesday.
Ideally, knowing about the new penalties, “you’re going to think twice before you jaywalk again,” Yalman said.
The Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the proposal. It goes before the City Council for a final vote in January.
Yalman said she’s heard that six people have been killed while jaywalking in Santa Fe, but couldn’t immediately provide a time frame for that number. She noted that just this week she heard a case involving a man seriously hurt while jaywalking.
“Apparently there’s been an awful lot of jaywalkers that have been severely injured or killed,” Yalman said.
Jaywalkers are often intoxicated, or might be homeless, Yalman said.
City Councilor Ron Trujillo, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said he also often sees students at DeVargas Middle School on Llano Street illegally crossing the often busy road to reach nearby shops.
“I don’t want to see a child get hit by a car,” Trujillo said.
Accidents involving jaywalkers tend to especially happen on Cerrillos Road, St. Francis Drive or near downtown Santa Fe, according to Yalman.
Also on Tuesday, the Public Safety Committee unanimously voted to amend city statutes to prohibit the possession of an ounce or less of synthetic cannabinoids such as “Spice” and “K-2.”
The amendment sets a first-time penalty of up to 15 days in jail and a fine of $50-$100. It also stipulates that Municipal Court won’t handle more than a first time offense.
The amendment bring the city in line with changes already made at the state level, Yalman said.