Get stuck on Mount Washington and you might lose your driver's license

Hiker with map standing on rocky outcrop
(Image credit: Getty)

Officials from New Hampshire Fish and Game are tired of 'reckless' hikers who endanger themselves, and want to confiscate their driver's licenses if they fail to pay for their rescue.

Not all states charge for mountain rescue operations, but New Hampshire can levy charges if people get themselves into trouble through negligence. That doesn't happen often, but some of the careless explorers are slow to pay, and a small handful still have debts outstanding years later. According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, Fish and Game is still waiting for around $80,000 in unpaid fees.

Colonel Kevin Jordan, head of the department's law enforcement division, believe it's time to increase the pressure on hikers who get themselves in trouble in the mountains, but don't pay their dues.

"In court fines and default situations, you will not collect unless you take this action," he told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on January 10. "There are a handful of people, and these are the worst that we deal with."

Time to pay up

The American Civil Liberties Union argued that confiscating driving licenses would leave people unable to work, and tangles them up in the criminal justice system. However, this argument failed to win over the senate panel, who voted unanimously to recommend passage of the new bill.

"I expect they will do this only in circumstances where there is no other alternative,” said state Senator David Watters, who was the bill's prime sponsor. 

The state will ask the DMV to lift the suspension of the hiker's driving license once they've entered into a plan to repay their debt. 

No charges are levied if a hiker dies, or if they have bought a voluntary Hike Safe card. This costs $25 per person and $35 per family, and is valid for a year.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.