Do you think it’s reasonable to put someone in jail for up to a full year, fine them thousands of dollars (not counting lawyer fees) and then punish them for an additional 11 years by making it certain that they will have to pay two or three times what the average person pays to insure their car – merely for driving more than 20 MPH above the posted speed limit (no matter what the speed limit is) or faster than 80 MPH, anywhere? Not running over toddlers while rip-roaring drunk. Not driving the wrong way down the highway. Not doing anything, in fact, except driving faster than “x” MPH – regardless of context, regardless of circumstance – and absent any demonstrable harm, much less an actual victim?
If not, then don’t drive in Virginia without your radar detector on. Though it’s not well-known, Virginia law defines merely driving 20 or more over the limit, or faster than 80 MPH, as statutory “reckless driving.”
§ 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit. – A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
This involves no ordinary mail-it-in speeding ticket. The cop can (at his discretion) arrest you on the spot. If he is “nice,” he will merely give you a piece of paper that tells you that you are ordered to appear in court to face the charge. You cannot just pay them off this time. At court, you’d better bring a top-drawer shyster – because if you are convicted, the penalties will be severe. Though it’s not commonly done, the judge can throw you in jail for up to a year. And he can fine you thousands (up to $2,500). And you will pay your lawyer thousands more on top of that to defend you from the worst (jail) and hope he can get the charge reduced to something that doesn’t carry with it the prospect of a couple of months in Oz.
But even if he keeps you out of the clink, the lawyer can’t shield you from the harshest punishment they will throw at you: They will suspend your driving privileges for at least six months and for the next 11 years, that “reckless driving” cite will remain on your DMV record (along with six “demerit points”) and as a result, you will be all but uninsurable. Or rather, you will be forced to pay usurious insurance premiums – typically two or three times what you were paying before. For the next 11 years.
And you haven’t even been accused of causing any actual harm to anyone.
Stick-up men aren’t handled this harshly.
Many Virginia highways have posted speed limits of 70 MPH – just slightly lower than what they were before 1974, incidentally. (That is, prior to the Fed’s 55 MPH edict – which was eventually repealed some 20 years later. Even so, maximum highway limits still haven’t recovered and are generally lower than they were before the 55 MPH law went into effect. )
Anyone who has driven on a highway lately – or anywhere else, for that matter – knows that traffic normally flows at 5 or 10 MPH faster than the limit. This has been true forever, or at least, as long as we have had speed limits. Which, as everyone – including cops and judges and the people who write the laws – knows can’t be described as the Maximum Safe Speed for the road. Everyone knows they’re just numbers – typically set several notches below the routine, average speed of traffic to say nothing of the maximum safe speed for that road.
Under the old 55 limit – in force for more than 20 years, finally repealed in the mid-’90s – it was statutory reckless driving to be traveling 76 MPH on the Interstate. Today, it’s a minor speeding ticket to do the same thing. Unless, of course, you go 5 MPH faster than that. Now you are a Reckless Driver. A killer of Our Children and such. Even though it is often moms in minivans doing the “reckless driving” (statutorily speaking).
The poor people out there are like seals happily swimming in the waters off San Francisco Bay – blissfully unaware of the Great Whites lurking nearby.
And this “20 over” business is perhaps even more absurd. Near us, they (the government drones) recently decided for whatever reason (well, for reasons of revenue) to drop the posted speed limit on a very broad four lane artery by a full 10 MPH down to 35 MPH. It is 55 MPH shortly before the change in signs – and of course the road is still the same road and the cars still drive at pretty much the same speed as they did before, which means 50-ish MPH.
Which means – give that man a prize – reckless driving.
Thousands of people are cited for this in VA every year. Can there really be that many reckless drivers out there? Sounds awfully scary. Or is just another example of latter-day USA police state excessiveness; the phenomenon that writer Sam Francis christened anarcho-tyranny? What he meant by that is a system under which trivial – and typically victimless – violations of administrative law, the sorts of penny-ante “offenses” that are committed by ordinary people (that is, non-criminals) are dealt with severely – while actual crime, with real victims, goes gently into that good night.
Think about it: You’re driving along with the flow of traffic, headed to your vacation destination. You and everyone else around you is doing 75-80-ish, as is common, routine and typical on an Interstate highway. The cop up ahead in the cut-out with his radar gun picks you out of the group, like a white shark separating one of the seals from the others. You were just driving “x” MPH. A violation of administrative law, surely. But reckless driving? Seriously? It’s so jaw-droppingly excessive, so over-the-top preposterous … so silly – that it literally boggles the mind.
Meanwhile, if you’re the head honcho of some politically connected corporate boondoggle – Solyndra, say – you can victimize millions of people (the millions of taxpayers who were forced to pay the millions that enabled you to steal billions) and not even get a fine.
Which of the two would you say is “reckless”?
But, tell it to the judge. . . .
Throw it in the Woods?