Kyle Busch has had his drivers license revoked for 45 days, been fined $1000, handed community service and put on a 30-day suspended jail sentence with a year of unsupervised probation after attending a court sentencing hearing over the 128mph drive he took in a 45mph zone in May.
Busch was stopped by an Iredell County Sheriff's Office Deputy on May 24 after being clocked at nearly three times the legal speed limit while driving a $400,000 2012 Lexus LFA high performance sports coupé through residential streets close to his home in North Carolina. He was charged with speeding and reckless driving and faced a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and the loss of his license for 12 months if convicted on all counts.
Busch's attorney Cliff Homesley complained that the NASCAR star faced being treated more harshly because of his sporting fame, and called for him to be sentenced just the same as anyone else.
"The policy changes when one of the best drivers in the world walks into the courtroom," said Homesley. Only 2.4% of speeding cases in the region are convicted at the maximum penalty, with the vast majority significantly pleaded down for quick resolution: in July, a convicted felon on supervised probation kept his license and was handed only a $300 fine by the same court after being charged with doing the same speed.
"How can that be?", Homesley had asked, complaining that the district attorney's office had never entertained a plea bargain in Busch's case as had happened in every other case of over-100mph cases.
In a lengthy address to the court pleading mitigation, Homesley stated that the Lexus - which was on loan to Busch from the motor company at the time - was higher performance than regular cars and that therefore the speed of 128mph clocked by Busch wasn't as reckless as it might have appeared. He pointed out that it could brake from that speed in 300 feet - the same distance a normal street car takes to slow from just 60mph.
Homesley also made the case that Busch was not an ordinary driver but a skilled professional capable of handling a car at high speed. "An automobile in his hands is like a scalpel in the hand of a surgeon, not a knife in the hand of a 5-year-old," he said.
"I have no doubt Mr Busch is an extraordinarily talented driver," responded assistant district attorney Scott Cranford dryly. "The problem is the rest of us aren't."
Busch ultimately pleaded guilty to the speeding offence and no contest to careless and reckless driving, which meant that he avoided conviction on the latter counts which could have led to more serious punishment. Busch also made the point of attending the court hearing in person rather than just have his attorney represent him.