Photo by Ludovic Charlet on Unsplash
After his fifth year of sponsoring a bill, Sen. David Suetterlein of Roanoke County was successful in increasing Virginia’s reckless driving by speed threshold to driving above 85 mph, instead of above 80 mph. (On a side note, I noticed that Sen. Suetterlein went to Grove City College and we probably shared some of the same professors since our time there overlapped. I’m glad to see a fellow Grover making an equitable change in the law. I’ll explain why it this is equitable below.)
Starting July 1, 2020, reckless driving by speed in Virginia will be defined as driving in excess of 85 mph (instead of in excess of 80 mph which is the current law) or driving at a speed of 20 miles per hour or more in excess of the speed limit. You can still get a reckless driving by speed charge for doing 20 miles or more above the speed limit, just like before. That part of the statute remains the same.
The change in the law accounts for the fact that speed limits have been raised in certain parts of Virginia while the reckless driving by speed threshold had not been changed. As cars have gotten safer and engineering has advanced, speed limits have been raised to 65 mph or even 70 mph in some parts of the state. Under current law, you can get a reckless driving by speed charge for traveling 81 mph in a 70 mph zone, just 11 mph over the speed limit. Most people do not expect to be facing criminal penalties for doing 11 mph over the speed limit. The punishment for reckless driving by speed includes the possibility of a fine of up to $2,500, jail time of up to 1 year, and a suspended license up to 6 months.
The new reckless driving by speed law takes effect on July 1, 2020, and changes the current reckless driving by speed statute under Virginia Code § 46.2-862 to the following:
shall be is guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty 20 miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty 85 miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.”
The penalty will be increased on the fine for speeding tickets for speeding between 81-85 mph in a 65 mph zone. Virginia Code § 46.2-878.3 will be amended to state. “Any person who drives a motor vehicle at a speed in excess of 80 miles per hour but below 86 miles per hour on any highway in the Commonwealth having a maximum speed limit of 65 miles per hour shall be subject to an additional fine of $100.”
This law shouldn’t change the number of reckless driving by speed charges in Virginia Beach, since the highest speed limit in Virginia Beach is 55 mph. Other local jurisdictions that we practice in like Williamsburg, Newport News, and Hampton may see a reduction in reckless driving by speed charges on their dockets since there are 65 mph and 70 mph speed zones in these jurisdictions. The reduction may not be as big as one might expect since many Troopers and Police Officers were merciful in the past and didn’t charge for reckless driving by speed when they could have, since doing 81 mph in a 70 mph zone doesn’t seem to justify a misdemeanor charge.
Learn more about specific jurisdictions that we serve: Virginia Beach Reckless Driving Defense / Norfolk Reckless Driving Defense / Norfolk Federal Court Reckless Driving Defense / Chesapeake Reckless Driving Defense / Hampton Reckless Driving Defense / Newport News Reckless Driving Defense / Northampton Reckless Driving Defense / Accomack Reckless Driving Defense