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.