The Virginia Senate may pass changed to the state’s distracted driving laws, making it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone for any use while driving. Drivers would be required to have their smartphones in a dash mounted holder, or only use via a wired or wireless Bluetooth access for calls and other interactions.
When a tragic accident happens, we search for answers. It is normal to want someone to blame, and to want to do something in response. But sometimes an accident is just an accident. And harsh punishments will neither bring that person back, nor prevent a similar accident from happening again. [Read more…]
Apparently, it’s possible. A 72 year old Manassas man was cited for reckless driving in a golf cart when his vehicle rolled over, and several of his 7 passengers were injured.
The crash took place in Mineral, a small community in Lousia County, and was apparently on a regular road, Lake Forest Drive, which would be subject to typical driving laws.
How exactly he got 7 passengers onto a golf cart at all remains an open question. The man had his wife, his son and daughter in-law, and 4 grandchildren loaded onto the cart when it overturned. It is reasonable to speculate that the card was significantly overloaded which certainly could have lead to the accidents. It is not typically very easy to roll over a golf cart under normal driving conditions.
Reports say that passengers suffered some serious injuries, but were not life threatening.
The man is facing a Class 1 Misdemeanor for reckless driving, which can be a serious offense, especially when injuries result.
Most likely, he is facing the charge under VCC 46.2-852 – Reckless driving, general rule.
Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.
Any action that results in rolling over a golf cart and injures people more than likely qualifies as reckless endangerment.
Of course it was just a horrible accident, and it’s quite unlikely that this grandfather is a dangerous criminal. I’m sure he feels terrible having been responsible for injuring his family. He could very likely face license loss for the reckless driving charge.
We hope the family recovers quickly.
When something goes terribly wrong in an operating room and a life is needlessly lost, the legal system often faces the tough task of attaching monetary value to such a death. The sum that is calculated is often in the millions of dollars. [Read more…]
Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do such words sound familiar? Those famous phrases are emblazoned on the long-established board game of Monopoly.
Reckless At 10 mph Over The Limit
Recently, the speed limit was raised to 70 mph on certain Virginia highways, but the reckless driving standard remained set at 80 mph, just 10 mph higher. As defined, reckless driving is a class one misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $2500, six points, a six-month license suspension, and a year in jail.
Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Henrico) detected this oversight and promptly introduced legislation to keep such severe sanctions from applying until one is cited for going 20 mph over the speed limit. His effort was quickly killed by a subcommittee on January 9th, the very first day that the new General Assembly was in session.
Was money a factor? Well, that broadly-defined reckless driving law has become ‘big business’ in the Commonwealth. Reckless driving citations account for fully $29.5 million of the $238 million in annual traffic fine revenue generated in the state.
New taxes are anathema, particularly in Republican-controlled jurisdictions. The cowardly, indirect ‘tax’ called the ‘traffic fine’ is emerging as an increasingly significant way to meet those government obligations in lieu of either raising taxes or controlling spending.
Right Turn On Red
Based upon an already existing law in the neighboring state of Tennessee (Tenn. Code Sec.55-8-198(i)), Mr. Morrissey (D-Henrico) then tried to introduce legislation that prohibited camera citations unless there is a failure to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorist during a right-hand turn. Delegate Morrissey appeared have supporting data on his side. Both the US DOT and the City of Los Angeles have studied the issue of rolling right turns, and they found little evidence of increased accidents.
Such information did not deter the House Committee on Science and Technology from quickly shutting down Mr. Morrissey’s radical attempt at common sense. The committee voted 18-4 against House Bill 1879.
Perhaps strategies this injurious to the Commonwealth should be kept to board games. ‘Monopoly’ is all about money. Perhaps the traffic laws in the state of Virginia are as well.
The Virginia House of Delegates’ message to municipalities is clear – keep those cameras rolling during right turns. Keep those automated tickets flowing, and keep the cash flowing as well.
The Washington Post reports on how the vast differences in reckless driving laws between Virginia and DC can result in drivers with DC licenses getting a 6 month license suspension for a single incident of driving 10mph over the speed limit.
According to the story, the DC DMV will automatically suspend your driver’s license for 6 months if you get a reckless driving conviction in Virginia. And it is incredibly easy for this to happen, since Virginia’s reckless driving laws include reckless by speed, which is a citation for driving 20mph over the posted speed limit, or 80mph on any highway, even those where the posted speed limit is 70mph. [Read more…]
The VSP begins it’s summer campaign of extra highway safety enforcement.
Does any of this make the road of Virginia safer? Maybe. But that is the nature of more police… there are always people you can pull over for speeding and other offenses. It is easy enough to generate bigger numbers of traffic citations if that’s the goal.
But what this is really about is that they get extra federal funding for these campaigns, as it clearly says in the article: “Funding for the enforcement initiative is provided through federal highway safety monies”
Which is all well and good, but it is silly to claim that it is about anything else: We have federal money to pay more officers, so we will do stuff. Fair enough.
This is an interesting and unusual case where a school bus driver was charged with reckless driving.
Obviously it was a serious accident, but the circumstances are unusual. [Read more…]
While few police stops are quite that exciting or dramatic, a recent attempted police stop resulted in a police chase in Augusta County, by vehicle and on foot, resulting in an overturned vehicle and minor injuries for the defendant, and a trip to the Middle River jail.
The news report at NewsLeader.com doesn’t say why the police were originally attempting to pull over Trevis H. Johnson, 28, of Charlottesville, but he was later charged with reckless driving, drug possession, and eluding police.
Typical police stops for reckless driving, the likely cause for the original police attention to the defendant, result in a criminal citation for a Class 1 misdemeanor. This charge is a serious offense, but there are often opportunities to challenge a criminal reckless charge in VA courts.
Hampton Roads has an interesting analysis in the Pilot Online about the number of speeding tickets issued for travelling at rates 10mph over the limit or less.
It is widely believed that police are unlikely to pull you over for speeding if you are only going 10mph over the limit, and their analysis appears to bear that out. According to their research, only three tenths of 1 percent of tickets issues where for less than that speeding threshold.
However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. You are probably most likely to get tagged with low grade speeding in school zones with lots of kids around, which makes sense.
Virginia is known for some of the toughest speeding laws in the nation, with criminal charges for driving 20mph over the limit, or over 80mph, known as “reckless by speed“. Reckless driving in Virginia is the same seriousness as a drunk driving charge – a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense.
But it is comforting to know that you are very unlikely to get a speeding citation for under 10mph over the limit. The practical reason for this isn’t so much that the police are just willing to give you a pass. It’s more likely if they want to pull over speeders, it frankly isn’t hard to find people travelling faster than that, so they don’t waste their time with the very minor infractions in most cases.
And it’s certainly true that speedier drivers, especially chronic ones, are a bigger threat to public safely, and more worth the time and effort for an officer to stop them and issue a traffic ticket.
But Virginia is probably the last place that you want to push the limit much beyond that, given the significant legal problems you face when you up the ante.