Tuesday, August 28, 2007

$1000 speeding ticket

The state of Virginia recently hiked traffic fines so that going 20 mph over the limit can result in a fine of $1000. If you're caught driving under the influence for a third time or if you're "felony reckless driving," the fine is $3000. Other offenses result in similarly high fines.

While the motivation of the state legislators was to increase revenue, I applaud efforts to make dangerous driving more painful to those who commit the crime. While roads generally have become safer for drivers and car occupants, traffic fatalities have gone up significantly over the past few years. Safer cars with better crash protection, better suspension, better brakes, and more powerful engines just means you can drive even more like a bonehead. Drivers are more likely to wreck their cars, but the wrecks are more survivable as long as you happen to be inside the metal cage. Wrecks are also more likely for the more vulnerable users of our road systems -- pedestrians and cyclists -- but the improved crash worthiness protection doesn't extend to us.

Unfortunately, many Virginians are so outraged by these new fines that the state legislator will meet in a special session just to repeal the fees. If you live in Virginia and support safer driving, contact your local representative and let them know of your support.

One drawback to high fines: Police are less likely to write tickets if they feel the fine is excessive. That's one reason many cops don't enforce traffic laws on cyclists.



Paul Tay said...

Whaaaaaaaaaat? Cops don't enforce the law on bicyclists? You should have a chat with Tulsa PD Santa Task Force. Maybe they just trying to show Santa some love and Christmas cheer?

Jamie said...

This is what I've been saying needs to be done all along. Make the speeding laws something that's actually going to HURT people in some way. That way they'll stop speeding.

The law I've been pushing recently is to give anyone who speeds in a school zone a six-month license suspension. If we can't create laws to protect kids at school, what good are we? Lives are more important than speed on the road.

SueJ said...

THat one drawback is pretty significant, especially since it means the same guy could deserve a ticket ten times and there might not even be a record. End result: more crazy drivers, not fewer.
I'm of the "earn your right to the road" school. If our culture stopped thinking it was a horrible thing to deprive somebody of the privilege to drive, then a: those same outraged citizens would create options and b: htere *would* be fewer dangerously impaired drivers out there.

Fritz said...

Tulsa's fine law enforcement personnel are exceptional in every way, I'm sure.

I think it's Finland that figures speeding fines as a percentage of income.

Ed W said...

I read that one reason the VA legislators voted for increased speeding fine was because they were afraid to increase gas taxes by roughly a penny per gallon. the measure is meant to increase revenues for roads, as you've noted Fritz, but the legislature is tax averse.

Now we get to see how much backbone they have when confronted with angry voters.

Bill said...

Third offense for driving under the influence gets a $3000 fine? It ought to get 10 years!

Joel said...

One of the biggest complaints about the law is that out of state drivers (there are a lot, District and Maryland residents) are exempted from the high fines because they are allowed to plead ignorance. The roads right around the District are nasty to drive in, but there are already a number of programs to encourage people to report "aggressive" drivers. Maybe there just needs to be more effort to track down the reported aggressives.

Anonymous said...

Are you nut? I make 1500 a month. I don't speed but speed traps all over my rout to and from work on downhills and 25 mils speed limit? Are you telling me you never went over limit? Do you even live in US?

Fritz said...

Anon, read the article. If you're going 45 in a 25, then you deserve to get nailed. IMO.