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George Patrick and the Lesson of Speeding in Virginia

Reckless driving in Virginia can lead to jail time.

By Staff Writer for Thomas Soldan

For years we have warned drivers in the Commonwealth of Virginia about the incredibly harsh punishments attached to speeding and reckless driving offenses. For those who think our efforts are a mere ploy to get people to hire an attorney, we point to the story of a Patrick George, a writer who found himself languishing for three days in a Virginia jail after he was stopped for driving 93 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Reckless Driving is defined by Virginia Code Section 46.2-852 and may be charged for a number of offenses, including traveling more than 20 mph above the posted limit or for those who travel more than 80 mph.

Mr. George apparently didn’t realize that Virginia authorities mean business on this issue when he was caught zipping down a rural road last June while test-driving a Camaro ZL1 in the Commonwealth as part of his job writing for xxx. The trooper who stopped him informed him that his speed of 93 mph was more than 20 mph over the limit, bumping the traffic violation up to a criminal offense, or a Class 1 misdemeanor to be precise. He was given a July 25 court date, which is when he was sentenced to three days in the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail.

In his blog, George talks about the personal, economic, and professional price of  that test-drive. In many states, a speed of 93 mph would likely result in a hefty fine and possible several points against one’s license. If there is a pattern of this kind of behavior, a driver might see their license suspended. Jail time, however, would be an extreme deviation for many jurisdictions. In Virginia, however, reckless driving is aggressively pursued and enforced. George joins a number of people, both visitors and residents of the state, who have learned this fact the hard way.

Every driver who lives, works, or is passing through the Commonwealth of Virginia should take warning from George’s plight. At least in his case his employer was understanding and did not fire him for being cited while on the job and convicted of a criminal offense. Many companies might not be as kind. Additionally, drivers who pass through Virginia and are charged or cited there don’t realize that the Commonwealth’s legal process can create hardships for them in their home states. Many Washington, DC drivers have been stunned to learn their District of Columbia issued license has been suspended for a Virginia traffic offense. When their conviction is registered there’s an additional aftershock of increased insurance premiums, if they aren’t dropped by their insurance carrier altogether.

Obviously, the best way to avoid these issues is to refrain from speeding and other traffic infractions. The reality, however, is that most of us have been guilty of speeding and other offenses and many of us can’t afford to suffer a criminal conviction. If you have been charged with reckless driving in Virginia, don’t hesitate to retain legal counsel. These are matters far more complicated than a typical moving violation and require keen legal insight if the worst penalties are to be avoided.

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