Virginia has some of the harshest speeding laws in the nation. In fact, according to Popular Mechanics, Virginia ranks in the top five for worst states to get caught speeding, fourth only to New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey. In most states, speeding, even in excess, is a ticket-able offense. However, the state of Virginia considers excessive speeding reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor offense that carries a fine and jail time.
Typical speeding in the state of Virginia—”typical” meaning driving between one and nine miles per hour over the speed limit—is a mild offense that carries a mild punishment. If an officer stops a person for regular speeding, he or she will fine the driver $51 plus six dollars for every mile per hour over the limit he or she was driving. However, until recently, if one drove 11 mph or more over the highway speed limit of 70 miles per hour – or if one drove 20 mph over any posted speed limit of less than 70 mph – the state could charge the driver with reckless driving. The fine for reckless driving is a whopping $2,500. If convicted, a person could also face up to one year in jail.
According to WTOP, Sen. David Suetterlein proposed a bill that would ease the reckless driving threat on some Virginia interstates. Instead of an automatic reckless driving threshold of 80 mph, the bill would raise the maximum to 85 mph, giving drivers an additional five miles per hour leeway. Under the proposed bill, the state could still charge a driver with reckless driving for traveling 20 miles per hour or more over any posted limit below 70 mph.
In January of last year, the Senate voted 23-16 in favor of the bill. One supporter, when rationalizing his vote, called the threat of jail time for traveling 11 mph over a posted speed limit “fundamentally unfair.”