127 MPH on I-93. What Was This Newporter Smoking?

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19-year-old Newport resident Ryan Quinn arrested in New Hampshire on reckless driving, drug charges.

If there’s one thing that the residents of New Hampshire don’t like doing, it’s paying taxes. Because of this, the state gets its revenue in other ways, like liquor sales, tolls and ticketing the crap out of everyone driving through the state.

One form of speed enforcement that New Hampshire really enjoys is monitoring automobile by aircraft. There are people who worry that drones will bring us into a world where the government will surveil us from high above. In New Hampshire, it’s been there for decades. Unfortunately for Newport resident Ryan Quinn, he was unaware of the threat posed by such methods…or he he didn’t care. The AP reports:

New Hampshire State Police said an airborne patrol unit clocked a man driving 127 miles per hour on Interstate 93 in the town of Northfield. The State Police Special Enforcement Unit was using an airplane to monitor traffic Saturday morning when the trooper in the aircraft saw a northbound vehicle traveling at high speed. Police said the tactical flight officer twice clocked the vehicle traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour, with the fastest at 127 miles per hour. The driver, stopped by troopers on the ground, was identified as Ryan Quinn, 19, of Newport, R.I. Quinn was charged with reckless driving and two counts of possession of a controlled drug.

Unfortunately, the story leaves out the most important details, like:

What was he driving?

127 mph is very fast for a public highway, but we’re at a point of automotive technology where a wide range of vehicles can make it up to that kind of speed. There are plenty of late-model cars, especially in the luxury segment, which can drive 127 mph all day, every day. There are also a lot of older models that can get there…maybe once, before their engines detonate and blow oil and anti-freeze all over a few miles of asphalt.

So we don’t know which kind of vehicle Quinn was behind the wheel of. Being 19 years old, it’s unlikely that he has the income to purchase a late model luxury or sports car (though there is one caveat that we’ll explore later). Being a Newporter, there’s a good chance that Quinn’s parents might have one that they might let him borrow (or at this point, “used to” let him borrow).

There is a safety/recklessness aspect to this. If Quinn was driving a ’97 Camaro with bad alignment and bald tires that threatened to shake itself to death once he hit 85, 127 is incredibly dangerous. If he’s driving a new Audi S5, 127 is dangerous, but well within the performance envelope of the vehicle.

What drugs are we talking about?

So Quinn was charged with 2 counts of drug possession, which would indicate that he had two types of drugs in the car with him. He was not, as of the AP publishing, charged with driving under the influence of drugs, so he might not have taken any of them. Alternatively, they could be waiting for the toxicology report to come back.

There are a few drugs that lend themselves to driving 127 mph and a lot that don’t. There’s nothing like a couple lines of cocaine to make the answer to “What would be a reasonable speed for this situation?” to be “FASTER!!!” Meanwhile, if you’ve smoked one bowl too many, a sign saying “Speed Limit Enforced By Aircraft” should have you doing about 20 below the speed limit as you scan the skies, looking for the fuzz…because they could be anywhere. As you veer from lane to lane with traffic speeding past you, it’s probably about as dangerous as doing 50 over the speed limit.

Now one possibility could be that if Quinn is driving a late-model high-end speed machine, it could be because he’s New Hampshire’s highest-profile drug smuggler…though it’s kind of doubtful, because if he had a trunkful of cocaine, that would probably be the headline of the story, not the 127 mph.

What have we learned?

A very wise man once told us “Never break more than one law at a time.” If you’re going to drive 50 mph over the limit, expect to get arrested and for your car to be searched. Also, expect to make the papers…and the Drudge Report.

On the flipside, 127 mph isn’t that fast, so Quinn doesn’t even get boasting rights out of the deal. Say “127 mph” to the crotch-rocket crowd and they’ll laugh and ask if you got arrested for holding up traffic. Most folks with a need for speed with have gone faster.

The only thing 127 really does for you is give you a really big traffic fine (which, as mentioned at the start of the story, NH really likes)…and most likely some time away from one’s license.

So, kids, don’t try this at home.

-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Speed Correspondent

Tristan's just this guy, ya know?