If you are driving at 80 miles per hour (mph) or more on a Virginia State highway, the current law says it is reckless driving, a criminal charge that could land you in jail for a year. This may change soon, as the state senate has recently approved a bill that would raise that statute up to 85 mph. A mixed reaction is the result among lawmakers and citizens alike.
Proponents of the bill say that the 80 mph limit was instituted back when the highway speed limits were 65 mph. Many states use a simple formula for determining reckless driving charges, which is 15 mph or more over the posted speed limit, so 80 mph was in line with this common legislation. Now that Virginia State highways allow speeds up to 70 mph – a change that occurred in 2010 – they believe the reckless driving statute needs to be adjusted up to 85 mph so that it still reflects the preexisting formula.
As it currently stands, driving at 80 mph is already a traffic violation because it is speeding, and it could hit you with a $150 ticket. If you go just 1 mph faster, it jumps up to $1500 traffic ticket, and it opens the door for reckless driving charges, which could hit you with $2,500 fine to the state and jail time. Supporters of the bill say the line is too blurred and too narrow to allow such a hike in punishments.
Words from the Opposition
Opponents of the bill claim that under no circumstances is driving over 80 miles per hour safe. So much distance is traveled at that speed – approximately 600 feet in just five seconds – that defensive and responsive maneuvers to avoid a crash are impossible for even the best of drivers. A high performance car in its prime will take roughly 500 feet to fully brake at that speed, so what can be expected of the average motorist who drives an economy car? Regardless of what opponents claim, the bill was passed 26-14 and there is no sign of it being vetoed or reversed.
At Curcione Law, PLC, we are strong defenders of the criminally accused, and this change in reckless driving statutes is significant to our practice. If you have been arrested for reckless driving, our investigation and insight may be able to determine a flaw in the prosecution’s claims, or even the basis of your arrest. Contact us today to work with a former police officer turned Norfolk reckless driving attorney.