Assembly considers reckless driving speed

Published 9:43 pm Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Virginia House of Delegates panel approved legislation on Tuesday afternoon that would raise the threshold for reckless driving from driving in excess of 80 miles per hour to driving in excess of 85 miles per hour. The bill maintains that driving more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit is also considered reckless driving.

Del. Jeffrey Campbell

Del. Jeffrey Campbell

As it currently stands, motorists who drive just 11 miles per hour over in a 70 mile per hour speed limit zone can and will be charged with reckless driving. A misdemeanor offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia, reckless driving carries the same level of offense as driving under the influence.

In both cases, jail time, heavy fines and the suspension of driving privileges are likely.

The bill’s sponsor, Del. Jeffrey L. Campbell (R-6), believes that raising the limit would make the law more fair for drivers. He was quick to point out the “illogical juxtaposition” within the current law that allows for drivers to be charged with reckless driving for going 11 miles per hour over the speed limit on the interstate, but simply given a speeding ticket when traveling at speeds close to 20 miles per hour over the limit within a residential neighborhood.

Campbell also said that many people who are ticketed for reckless driving and then agree to pay the fine aren’t fully aware of the ramifications.

“And then six months later they realize they’ve been convicted of a class one misdemeanor,” he said.

The proposal is opposed by the Virginia State Police, who argue that it would make highways unsafe. Capt. F. Daniel Glick stood in front of the committee on Tuesday, saying that passage of the bill would send a message to drivers that excessive speeding is tolerated by the state.

“That is a barrier that people recognize,” Glick said. “They realize if they go over, it’s going to be a problem for them.”

According to Glick, there were 339 speed-related deaths on Virginia roadways in 2013.

“We’re obviously concerned that this will not help that situation,” he said.