Speeding dad-to-be waits for his day in court

By Lynne Tuohy
Associated Press / January 10, 2011

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MANCHESTER, N.H.—A man who raced his wife to the hospital to have their son is bemoaning the slow pace of justice as he fights the ticket he got driving 102 mph in a 55 mph zone.

"He'll be driving by the time we're done," said John Coughlin of Londonderry, looking down at his four-month-old son, Kyle, in his car seat as he stood in the lobby of a Manchester courhouse.

Coughlin will return to court April 4 to fight the ticket. According to a police prosecutor, he faces up to a $1,000 fine and a 30-day suspension of his driver's license because of the rate of speed involved.

"I can't lose my license for that long," said Coughlin, who works in Massachusetts but declined to say where because he's afraid the media will call him at work.

Coughlin, 32, was supposed to be in court Jan. 3, but mistakenly showed up on Jan. 4 instead. He and his wife, Angela, were at Manchester District Court Monday to answer to the citation he got for failing to appear when he was supposed to. He was given the April court date after paying a $50 fine for his error.

The Coughlins' plight has made national headlines. Angela Coughlin said she finds it all "overwhelming."

"It's amazing what one e-mail to a local station can snowball into," she said. "It was from me, and my husband was so mad."

Angela Coughlin said it didn't seem like her husband was moving that fast en route to the hospital Sept. 18, but hastened to add, "My eyes were shut and I was screaming. I didn't notice anything."

When John Coughlin saw the flashing blue lights of a police cruiser in his rearview mirror that night, he dialed 911 to explain the circumstances. The police chase then turned into a police escort to the hospital. The trooper stayed around long enough to congratulate the Coughlins on the birth of their son and hand John Coughlin a speeding ticket.

Coughlin called the court process "long, exhausting and it seems very unnecessary. I just want it to be over with."

Asked if he would have done anything differently, Coughlin said, "No. I still get these guys to the hospital."