The other day in Virginia Beach General District Court, I sensed that a judge was evaluating whether or not to be lenient to a driver with a +5 Virginia driving record (the best point balance you can have in Virginia) for a speeding offense of 12 miles per hour over the speed limit. However, during the trial, the police officer made the comment that the defendant was in a “Traffic Calming Zone” even though he did not cite the driver for the increased fines associated with speeding in a calming zone. At that point, the judge decided not to give additional leniency to the driver. I was surprised that the area could be labelled a traffic calming zone, being that there were no speed limit or warning signs at the particular area and the road was a four lane road, with two lanes going north and two lanes going south.
My suspicions were correct. The process to designate a road a Traffic Calming Zone in Virginia involves both the local county/city and VDOT and the road must meet certain requirements to qualify. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation and the City of Virginia Beach’s Traffic Calming Brochure, the Traffic Calming Program (TCP) is restricted to “2 lane local residential streets, with posted speed limits of 25 mph, with a minimum of 12 homes fronting the street per 1,000 feet of roadway” (Page 3 of the VB Traffic Calming Brochure). The court and the officer needed to be informed that this area could not possibly be a traffic calming zone because it was not 2 lanes.
I have tremendous respect for what police officers do and for keeping society safe. But with all due respect to police officers, they do not always get their facts right and they are fallible human beings. As a traffic defense attorney, my job is to keep the legal system in check by making sure officers get their facts straight and follow the rule of law and by making sure the court gives my client due process of law.