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Thread: Reckless driving - speed limits

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    Reckless driving - speed limits

    This thread was created by Moderator (not by User below) to establish current law and allow closing of old necro thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by deepdiver View Post
    $1000 for going 20mph over? :what:

    Their friggin' nuts! As much as I love VA and as pretty as the country is, I'm scratching it off the "places I would like to live" list. I am not going to live somewhere with those kind of draconian traffic laws.
    I have to respond, "Good." One of my big arguments against gun-crazies' obsession with eradication of firearms in the name of "gun control" is the way automobile violence goes unpunished, and even unnoticed, demonstrating that the crazies are violent and dangerous people who aren't really concerned with criminal violence, but with disarming law abiding and socially responsible people so that they may further their criminal culture with impunity.

    Speed limits are designed not to control speed but to control stopping distance. And, in Virginia, there has been a legislative conclusion to the effect that if you're going twenty miles an hour over the speed limit or at any speed over eighty miles per hour, you cannot possibly stop your car in a reasonable way in the area in which you're driving, and are therefore driving recklessly. "Reckless" means "in a manner that creates a threat to life, limb and property by extreme negligence". It doesn't require that you have malice toward any particular person, or even that there is a particular person likely to be injured. The gist of the crime is that you don't care whether you kill someone or not and are driving in a way that disregards your duty to avoid injuring other people and their property.

    Reckless driving is a crime, a class-one misdemeanor, punishable by up to a fine of $2,500 and incarceration for up to twelve months. There are defenses available, and I would suggest that any time one be charged with a criminal offense, that he hire the best lawyer he can who understands the area of law implicated. Best way to find one is to ask the bailiffs who work in the traffic court in Caroline Co. (in this instance). The mere fact that you failed to control your speed is not a defense. But if you're lucky, you can get the charge knocked down to improper driving, a class-2 misdemeanor. But in Caroline Co., I would say that you'll be lucky to stay out of jail.

    To my mind, and I believe this sentiment is shared by the General District Court of Caroline County, driving that way is like taking a gun out of the holster in a shopping mall and waving it around blindfolded and with your finger on the trigger. Maybe you have no intention of actually harming anyone, but the risk is unreasonably great. I may piss off eighty percent of the people on OCDO, but if I were the judge, I'd put your ass in jail, and if you don't like the sentence I give you, you could appeal to the Circuit Court and take your chances with a local jury. You're going to need about ten thousand dollars in legal fees, I reckon, and you'll probably still go out through the side door in handcuffs.

    Brandishing a firearm, the same level of crime as reckless driving, is treated as if it only required that you be in possession of a firearm and that some person who sees it is willing to testify that you "pointed, held, or brandished" the firearm and that they felt fear as a result - the term "brandishing" having been "interpreted" by the Va. Sup. Ct. to mean "to display in an ostentatious or shameful manner" (which could include any form of open carry the court finds is "ostentatious" or "shameful"). But the same cops who'll charge you with brandishing will give you the benefit of the doubt when you're doing forty-six in a twenty-five zone (i.e., one in which pedestrians, including small children, are likely to come into the street, and where a short stopping distance is required). Open carry doesn't kill or injure anyone, and brandishing is only about "feeling fear"; speeding causes death, serious injuries, and excessive property damage. If the gun-crazies (people with a morbid neurotic obsession with guns in the hands of law abiding citizens) really cared about criminal violence, they'd obey the traffic laws.
    Last edited by Grapeshot; 02-25-2016 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Moderator note
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    Regular Member glockfan's Avatar
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    User wrote, "but the risk is unreasonably great."

    But User, cars these days drive 80mph very well and they stop better than they did when they came up with this law that 80mph is a dangerous high speed.

    I don't agree the risk of going 80mph is unreasonably great.

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    I realize it's not Virginia, but there are lots of places out west with speed limits of 80 mph and a few with speed limits of 85 mph. Texas, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah at least.

    Having said that, if you do something incedibly stupid, directly in front of my semi while I'm rolling down the highway at 75 mph, you're probably gonna get killed.
    Last edited by Wstar425; 02-20-2016 at 11:59 AM.

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    Even though I think the 80mph thing is archaic I personally don't go over 75mph in Virginia. I always laugh when I'm cruising along on I95 and the people with New Jersey plates fly by me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glockfan View Post
    User wrote, "but the risk is unreasonably great."

    But User, cars these days drive 80mph very well and they stop better than they did when they came up with this law that 80mph is a dangerous high speed.

    I don't agree the risk of going 80mph is unreasonably great.
    User also wrote " in the area in which you're driving". Is is not just whether the car can perform better than its predecessors, but whether it can perform adequately where it is. Better may still not be good enough.

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    I know of someone who once, a long time ago, got a reckless driving summons. When this person asked about vacating his conviction, the judge called this person to him and his advice, and he told him at the time that it was purely "just advice" was that he got himself a local attorney that "knows this court". Several hundred bucks later his attorney called him and said "don't even bother coming to court, it's been dismissed"
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    Quote Originally Posted by bc.cruiser View Post
    User also wrote " in the area in which you're driving". Is is not just whether the car can perform better than its predecessors, but whether it can perform adequately where it is. Better may still not be good enough.
    Absolutely!!! I started driving in a '65 VW "bug", with about as much protection as a soda can, back when I was young, foolish, and drove like a crazy person. God kept me alive in spite of myself for some reason (!?), and the last twenty-five years of defensive litigation has exposed me to all the horrible stuff that can happen. And the fact that cars are much safer now doesn't mean that people are. If you're whirling down the flat, straight highway all alone in West Texas and have a sight distance of twenty miles straight ahead, then, hell, go as fast as you can. But there isn't any place in Virginia like that - the roads follow land contours, by and large, and are twisty and hilly.

    The point I was trying to make was about stopping distance, which has nothing to do with how safe the occupant of the car may be compared to yester-year. And as we all know from our study of ballistics, kinetic energy is the product of mass times the square of velocity. I.e., for every mph you add vehicular speed, your K goes up exponentially, not linearly. It's much, much harder to stop within the legal stopping distance for a seventy mph speed limit when you're doing eighty than when you're doing seventy, and that's disproportionatly harder than the same difference with a twenty-five mph speed limit. (There is a legal definition of stopping distances, and that definition affects vehicular rights of way, incidentally, since the phrases, "oncoming traffic" and "approaching traffic" both mean "traffic that can't reasonably be expected to stop. And anyone who's speeding in the slightest degree forfeits the right of way.)

    When my kids were young, I told them "Always hold the handrail when you're on the stairs, so that WHEN you have a problem (notice I didn't say, "if"), you'll be able to catch yourself and not get hurt AS BADLY." Same thing applies to stopping distance. Following too closely and excessive speed is as much if not more deadly than a .45ACP at close range. Compare the statistics on vehicular homicides and firearms-related homicides. (Btw, "homicide" means the killing of a human, and is not a synonym for "murder").

    Here's another wrinkle - the law isn't made for clever people with terrific reflexes like all of us - it's made for dummies who won't know what to do when the semi they're following on I-95 has a blowout in the right-front tire on the tractor and does a jack-knife right in front of them, releasing blowing chickens most of which hit the dummy's windshield. All of us can handle that eventuality at 80mph, but the dummy can't. So they had to make the speed limit lower to account for the dummies. Traffic law is a "one size fits all" sort of deal and makes no exceptions for people who know how to work their cars really well.

    I was an expert on handling my VW at age 16, and had great reflexes; but I was a really bad driver. I didn't figure out how to start becoming a socially responsible person who looks out for other people until about twenty years later (slow learner, though when it comes to Cracker-Jacks, some kids never grow up). My dad told me, always treat the gun as if it were loaded, and always approach a hill or a curve on the road with the assumption that there's a cow in the middle of the road up ahead that you can't see. (Fairfax County was chock-full of dairy farms at that time, long ago and far away.)

    So WHEN something bad happens on the highway (notice I didn't say, "if"), I hope you'll all be following at a safe distance and not going faster than a sensible stop would allow. If people whiz past you, let them go - all they're doing is beating you to the stop light or next clot of traffic - and who cares, anyway, it's not a competition. Same rule applies to the defensive use of firearms - the main job is to keep yourself and your family safe, hopefully without injuring innocent bystanders.
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    User I appreciate your discussion of stopping distance and safe following distance and agree with your comparison of the gun and the car. I have a dear member of my family who while otherwise is a responsible, generally honorable individual, operates vehicles with about 1/2 or 1 second of distance between his car and the bumper of the vehicle ahead, even at freeway speeds. On the occasions that I have addressed this reckless habit, I have compared his behavior to him holding a loaded gun to someone's head with his finger on the trigger, but with no intention of pulling the trigger. While he may not have a desire to shoot or kill the person who is at the end of the gun, the act of doing such recklessly endangers that person's life even though he has no intent to cause harm.

    For some reason this doesn't sink in, so I think the next time I have this discussion with him, I may add another line. It is not sufficient that you have no intention of causing needless harm, you must also intend to avoid or prevent it.
    Last edited by jmelvin; 02-20-2016 at 10:12 PM.

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    At the risk of breathing more life into this once-dead, off-topic post, I wanted to add a few comments to Dan's post.

    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    [snip]

    Speed limits are designed not to control speed but to control stopping distance. ...

    [snip]

    Reckless driving is a crime, a class-one misdemeanor, punishable by up to a fine of $2,500 and incarceration for up to twelve months. There are defenses available, and I would suggest that any time one be charged with a criminal offense, that he hire the best lawyer he can who understands the area of law implicated. Best way to find one is to ask the bailiffs who work in the traffic court in Caroline Co. (in this instance). The mere fact that you failed to control your speed is not a defense. But if you're lucky, you can get the charge knocked down to improper driving, a class-2 misdemeanor. But in Caroline Co., I would say that you'll be lucky to stay out of jail.

    To my mind, and I believe this sentiment is shared by the General District Court of Caroline County, driving that way is like taking a gun out of the holster in a shopping mall and waving it around blindfolded and with your finger on the trigger. Maybe you have no intention of actually harming anyone, but the risk is unreasonably great. I may piss off eighty percent of the people on OCDO, but if I were the judge, I'd put your ass in jail, and if you don't like the sentence I give you, you could appeal to the Circuit Court and take your chances with a local jury. You're going to need about ten thousand dollars in legal fees, I reckon, and you'll probably still go out through the side door in handcuffs.

    ....
    1) In theory, speed limits are about safety, yes. However, anyone who has driven through a town like Hopewell, VA, knows that revenue is a large part of traffic enforcement. There are many other jurisdictions that are just as bad as Hopewell, if not worse. For what it's worth, among attorneys, Caroline County is not usually known as a high volume traffic jurisdiction.

    Fun fact: even though Hopewell has earned a reputation as one of the worst speed traps, in years past, Dinwiddie County was 100x worse. In Dinwiddie, I could get a Reckless Driving 92/70 down to a non-moving defective equipment with a ridiculously high fine. It was downright corrupt. Thankfully, those days are long gone.


    2) For most traffic cases involving speeding, for all intents and purposes, there is no presumption of innocence, and the notion of "beyond a reasonable doubt" is more like "sounds good enough." I agree that a local traffic attorney would be best, or at least an attorney who is familiar with traffic matters. But don't get your hopes up to win a traffic case in a trial. The overwhelming majority of these cases do not go to trial (if handled properly). For that reason, an attorney will likely explain the best ways to go about reaching a favorable outcome without an actual trial.


    3) If you do need to appeal, circuit court is always an option. Just like GDC, it depends on the judge and the facts of the case. Some circuit courts are better than GDC; some are worse. (See #2.) But you don't need to worry about $10k in legal fees or going in front of a jury. If you have the most complicated case in the history of all traffic cases, and you absolutely must fight it tooth-and-nail, it might get dicey. But for most misdemeanor appeals to circuit, the fees will likely be reasonable...more than GDC fees, but still reasonable.


    4) Some judges absolutely impose jail time at 86 mph. It can happen.


    5) Is reckless driving the equivalent of waving around a gun with your finger on the trigger? Sometimes, yes. If you're the only car on I-95 in the middle of the day traveling 86 mph or even 90 mph, no. If you're one of the jack-wagons that zips through heavy traffic traveling 15-30 mph faster than everybody else, yep. I hate those people. Not coincidentally, those are good examples of the various factors that go into how judges treat these types of cases.


    That is all.

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    grape can you separate these beginning at '16 as even user is responding to ancient dead sea posts and this would mitigate others from going back to look in the scrolls to argue a long dead point...

    ipse
    Last edited by solus; 02-25-2016 at 10:32 AM.
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    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/m...ance/index.htm

    Automatic braking systems is but one example of cars being safer than the citizen driving them. Speed limits are no longer about safety...only revenue. If the state gave a rip about safety no car would be allowed to be on the road that could exceed the posted speed limit given GPS/car technology of today.
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    Quote Originally Posted by solus View Post
    grape can you separate these beginning at '16 as even user is responding to ancient dead sea posts and this would mitigate others from going back to look in the scrolls to argue a long dead point...

    ipse
    Done.

    Locking the old thread - continue on this one
    Last edited by Grapeshot; 02-25-2016 at 11:13 AM. Reason: fixed
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmedBarrister View Post
    At the risk of breathing more life into this once-dead, off-topic post, I wanted to add a few comments to Dan's post. ...
    Agree completely, double-plus-one. Btw, I almost never check dates on posts or threads, so I blindly wade in when I see something that piques my interest. I am no longer engaged in the practice of traffic-law defense, though I did a lot of it some years back. Similarly, I did a divorce, once; I wrote a will, once; I did a couple of real-estate closings... you get the idea. All that was long ago and far away. So I have no interest in acquiring new clients out of this interchange. Unless your case involves firearms, weapons generally, or personal defense litigation, I'm not the guy to talk to when you've got legal problems. If Badguy is bleeding to death on your living room carpet at 2:00 a.m., then first call 911 and ask for an ambulance for the injured person - give your name, address, and say that the injured person needs emergency medical care, and hang up. The ambulance people will call the police, you don't need to do that. Then call the attorney of your choosing. When the cops get there, tell them 1) you want your lawyer and 2) hand them a copy of the "letter to law enforcement" from my website (which has blanks for you to write in the name and phone number of your attorney). Then K-Y-B-M-S. Better to spend three or four days in jail than twenty years in the penitentiary. Have an attorney lined up to help you before you have problems.

    If you're towards the Southeast, call ArmedBarrister (Virginia Beach), not me (Northern Piedmont); and if you're towards the Southwest, call John Pierce (Bristol). There are no geographical boundaries, but there are certain economies of time and effort involved in travel, which I believe all three of us are willing to do. I'm sure there are other attorneys in Virginia who are good, diligent, knowledgeable, and honest, but I don't know who they are, and as far as I know, they're not really participants in the personal defense community.
    Last edited by user; 02-25-2016 at 11:42 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Automatic braking systems is but one example of cars being safer than the citizen driving them.
    Only a small percentage of cars on the road have automatic braking systems.

    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Speed limits are no longer about safety...only revenue. If the state gave a rip about safety no car would be allowed to be on the road that could exceed the posted speed limit given GPS/car technology of today.
    Most speed limits in my part of the world these days are absolutely about safety, with a few, unfortunate exceptions being about revenue.

    As documented here and in numerous other studies, a pedestrian hit by a car traveling 20 mph has a 95% chance of survival. At 30 mph, the odds of survival drop to 60%. At 40 mph the pedestrian only has about a 20% chance of surviving an impact with a moving car. And by the time the car reaches 50 mph, odds of pedestrian survival drop to almost 0%. All this is after the crash takes place. Many auto-pedestrian crashes can be eliminated/avoided by reducing the speed of the car such that reaction time and stopping distance allow the driver (presumed to be an adult) to correct for pedestrian (often children) errors.

    This study (and other recent studies) reveal that children up to about age 11 cannot reliably judge the speed or distance of cars moving faster than about 20 mph.

    So there is solid science for setting speed limits in school zones and other areas with heavy children pedestrian traffic at 20 mph. 25 mph is actually pushing it, especially once drivers push their speed to 29 or 30.

    If you wish to discuss speed limits on limited access freeways, the vast majority of the freeways in my State are posted at 70 mph or faster. There are a few short sections (a couple of miles each, along 400+ miles of road) posted at 65 mph. These areas involve both steep grades and tight turns where semis struggle to maintain anything north of 40 mph (so even 65 results in a 25+ mph speed differential), and even many passenger cars can't maintain 65 mph. Most of the rural sections of freeway are posted at 75 or 80 mph. While there are a modest number of high performance automobiles and drivers who can operate safely at speeds higher than these, they are not the norm.

    As for cars able to exceed the speed limit, a vehicle that can just maintain the posted limited while traveling fully loaded, up a 7.5% grade, into a 30 mph head wind. while towing a 10,000 pound trailer, will easily exceed the posted limit under less taxing conditions. That we don't consent to having GPS enabled speed limiters installed on our vehicles doesn't mean that today's posted limits are not generally about safety.

    Now, if you want to reminisce on Nixon/Carter's double-nickel that made it a 6 hour drive from my home town to my State capital, I'm right there with you on the revenue issue. But at 80 mph, even 85 as posted in Texas? That is safety.

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Not a endorsement.
    A pedestrian walks out into a crosswalk with an approaching car that is traveling at 30 mph. If the driver brakes when the pedestrian is 45 feet away, there will be enough space to stop without hitting the pedestrian. Now, increase the vehicle’s speed by just 5 mph, and the situation changes dramatically. At 35 mph and the pedestrian 45 feet away, the car will be traveling at 18 mph when it hits the pedestrian. A pedestrian accident at 18 mph can cause major injuries or even wrongful death.

    https://seriousaccidents.com/legal-a...ents/speeding/
    "Cops giving us a break" when we are 5 or so over the posted limit during rush hour, keeping up with traffic, and Johnny Law does not pull us over.

    Don't get me wrong, I like being given a pass for a technical traffic violation. Most cops pull over the big fish, as my deputy sheriff buddy calls them, big fines cuz of the 10+, if it 15+ were are talking jackpot.

    All of my fellow vehicle operators, driving 5 or so over the posted speed limit are not getting pulled, yet the nitwit doing 10+ is, then safety is most certainly not the concern with LE or planners else the posted limit is too low and needs to be raised for.

    Maybe my cop buddy is the exception, though I doubt it. Just like many things with LE, the speeding, if it contributed to the event, is but another add on charge that will generate additional revenue.

    Distracted driving is far more dangerous these days than is speeding. Attentive drives can mitigate the potential effects of going five over the posted limit.

    My example: Do 20 in a residential area, the posted is 25, a kid darts out and you hit him at 20...dead is dead and your speed was (will be portrayed as) too fast.

    Missouri has a problem with towns of <500 population generating >50% of their general operating revenue requirements from traffic fines. Jeff City seems to have fixed that.

    If it, speeding drivers, is about safety why not have towns generate as much revenue from unsafe drivers as possible?
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    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

  16. #16
    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    The real study would be did excessive speed alone cause the accident.

    Obviously very excessive speeds alone do cause accidents when that speed is not consistent with the roadway/road conditions/vehicle capabilities/drive capabilities. The rare speeding accident indeed.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/m...ance/index.htm

    Automatic braking systems is but one example of cars being safer than the citizen driving them.
    These systems are being developed and installed in cars today along with multiple air bags, and automatic lane departure warning systems, to prevent bad and distracted drivers from taking themselves out the gene pool.
    (and taking a few innocent victims along with them)
    Last edited by Shovelhead; 02-25-2016 at 04:58 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    Agree completely, double-plus-one. Btw, I almost never check dates on posts or threads, so I blindly wade in when I see something that piques my interest. I am no longer engaged in the practice of traffic-law defense, though I did a lot of it some years back.
    The General Assembly just doesn't care. Some years ago, there was an effort to repeal the stupid ban on RADAR detectors. Always killed.

    This Session, a Delegate actually tried to increase the speed threshold to 85 MPH. See what (didn't) happen:

    HB 1043 Reckless driving; raises threshold for speeding.

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