|Existing state law reads that anyone caught going 20 miles over the speed limit, or 80 mph or higher, will be guilty of reckless driving. The punishment for reckless driving can be quite severe. Drivers guilty of reckless driving can be fined as much as $2,500 and face jail time, as well as getting six points on one's license and a six-month suspension of the license.
The Code of Virginia still says that driving 80 mph or more, regardless of what the speed limit is, constitutes reckless driving. The legislation rushed through the General Assembly didn't change that.
So, if a person is found going 11 miles over the speed limit in one of these new 70 mph zones, that person could face fines not unlike the ones in the now-repealed state law GOP Del. Dave Albo pushed through a couple of years ago. That law was repealed because of the public uproar about the large fines.
The 70 mph speed zone is not completely new in the Commonwealth. A long stretch of I-85 south of Richmond going into North Carolina already has a limit of 70 mph. The experience of local lawyers in that area has been that they frequently represent drivers in court for reckless driving who face serious penalties for being caught going 11 miles or more over the speed limit.
Maybe this is just another of McDonnell's puny ways to raise a little money for transportation. Or, this may encourage localities to use traffic tickets to raise funds. Or, maybe the Republicans just didn't think things through when they rushed to pass this bill. Neither did the Democrats who jumped on the governor's bandwagon.
As for me, I shudder to think how bad I-81 will become with convoys of 18-wheelers flying along at almost 80 miles per hour in some stretches.