Speed limit will go up, but reckless driving cap will stay the same
It was a small part of Governor Bob McDonnell‘s address to the joint session of the legislature, but it was a concept that has the potential to impact the majority of Virginians. The Governor’s idea to boost the speed limit by 5 miles and hour on most of Virginia’s interstates that run through rural sections of the state, brought the Republican plenty of headlines, and largely positive accolades.
It is not a surprise that of the many legislative priorities the Governor outlined, that something as simple as this would hit the fast track. On Tuesday, both the House and Senate gave their approval to McDonnell plan, making the speed limit increase an inevitability. But before you put the pedal to the metal, there is something you should keep in mind.
Virginia has long been known for its powerful laws designed to protect their roadways. The Commonwealth’s reckless driving statute can land someone in jail just for speeding. The law reads that anyone caught going 20 miles over the speed limit will be guilty of violating the reckless driving law. However the law has a cap of 80 mph, regardless of what the speed limit is. At this point there is no legislation submitted that would move the reckless driving cap up. That means if you find yourself going a mere 11 miles over the speed limit in one of these new 70 mph zones, you could be facing a fine of as much as $2,500 or even jail time.
The 70 mph speed zone is nothing new to Virginia. A lengthy stretch of I-85 in Southern Virginia is already 70 mph and the reckless driving cap is still 80 mph. Shane Jimison, a local attorney told NBC12 that he often represents drivers who are facing stiff penalties for being caught going just a bit more than 80 mph.
Here is some video of Shane’s take on the proposed change:
While this new addition to Virginia transportation could catch unsuspecting drivers, it could be a huge boon to the State’s coffers. Hundreds of miles of new roads will now have a speed zone that leaves a smaller window for people to make a mistake that could mean a hefty fine. That could mean that the Commonwealth stands to bring in a bunch of new money. It won’t be enough to solve Virginia’s budget woes, but in difficult times, every little bit helps.