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Man ticketed for driving 102 mph as wife was in labor

New Hampshire Union Leader Staff

MANCHESTER - A Londonderry man ticketed for driving 102 mph as he rushed his pregnant wife to the hospital will try to persuade a Manchester District Court judge next Monday that his speed was necessary and he should be found innocent.

John Coughlin said a New Hampshire State Police trooper first tried to stop him near the Interstate 293 split, but after Coughlin called 911 and explained the urgency of the situation, the trooper pulled ahead of him and led the Coughlins at high speed to Catholic Medical Center.

Coughlin said the trooper, who had asked for his license and registration, was waiting for him after the birth and said: "Congratulations on your son. Here's your ticket."

State police Col. Robert Quinn said Tuesday while state police empathize with a woman in labor, he supports the decision by Trooper Francisco Vicente to issue the speeding ticket.

He noted Coughlin was clocked at 102 mph; he swerved at one point and almost lost control of the car. According to the trooper, Coughlin took the I-293 curve at 84 mph. He was driving while on the telephone, and Vicente saw his wife tugging on his arm, Quinn said.

"You can't drive at a speed that is so unsafe to yourself and others," Quinn said. "That's why we have 911, that's why we have ambulances."

The Sudden Emergency Doctrine, when properly proven relieves a party of the intent necessary for a finding of liability. Generally, a motorist will not be held to the usual degree of care or be required to exercise his or her best judgment when confronted with a sudden and unexpected position of peril created in whole or in part by someone other than the person claiming protection under the doctrine. However, it is not a defense to summary violations of the Vehicle Code. Generally, one who uses the Emergency Doctrine as a defense, bears the burden of proving it. Since summary offenses, such as speeding, careless driving, or reckless driving, do not require the showing of a mens rea or intent, they are not the proper subjects of this defense.

At Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, we specialize in helping clients with traffic tickets, points violations, speeding citations, and other traffic-related incidents.  Contact Attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini for a consultation regarding your case at or toll free at 1-866-765-0706.

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