By on March 9, 2010

A federally funded ticketing blitz in the state of Virginia landed a total of 6996 traffic tickets this weekend. The blitz, dubbed “Operation Air, Land & Speed” coincided with frantic efforts by state officials to close a$2.2 billion budget deficit. Supervisors ordered state troopers to saturate Interstates 81 and 95 to issue as many tickets as humanly possible over the space of two days.

“The safety of Virginia’s highways begins the minute a vehicle is put in ‘drive,'” Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty said in a statement. “Those split second decisions to choose not to drive drunk, to choose to wear a seat belt and to choose not to speed or drive aggressively really do make a difference in preventing and/or surviving a crash.”

Officers had no trouble delivering the requested number of speeding tickets with a total of 3536 ordinary speeding citations written. In addition, another 717 “reckless driving” tickets were filed, although these most often are simple speeding tickets that happen to carry a fine of up to $2500. Driving as little as 10 to 15 MPH over the limit can qualify for this enhanced punishment. On the other end of the scale, some 310 tickets were handed to drivers who either forgot to wear their seatbelts or made a choice not to do so.

Activists with the National Motorists Association pointed out that enforcement efforts may have concentrated on areas where speed limits are expected to rise to 70 MPH following Governor Bob McDonnell’s signature on legislation raising the state’s maximum speed limit (view law). This would mean a significant number of tickets were issued for conduct that will be perfectly legal in a matter of months. The group also indicated that state police tactics may run afoul of state law.

“All officers making arrests incident to the enforcement of this title shall be paid fixed salaries for their services and shall have no interest in, nor be permitted by law to accept the benefit of, any fine or fee resulting from the arrest or conviction of an offender against any provision of this title,” Virginia Code Section 46.2-102 states.

Under the federal grant application process, state officials explained that they would pay officers overtime — at least one-and-a-half times their normal salary — to participate. This special reward for ticketing operation participants appears to violate the spirit of state law.

Since 2006, a total of twenty-three ticketing blitzes have taken place, generating 120,977 traffic tickets.


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53 Comments on “Virginia State Police Help With Budget Crunch...”

  • avatar

    Parasites. That’s all that comes to mind.

  • avatar

    As a lifelong Virginia resident who has spent plenty of time in other states across the country, I am pretty confident that my fair state has the most policed roadways and aggressive state troopers in the nation. Plus, the lowest speed limits. Rural Virginia towns clearly rely on speed traps for revenue. Drivers beware!

    Thanks for exposing the filth.

  • avatar

    Any word on how much this blitz actually generated?

  • avatar

    I think a rolling blockade at 45mph along 95 and 81 would send a nice message. How do these troopers feel about being glorified meter maids?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll bet that such action could be construed by the VHP as reckless driving, as well. Or some other manner of moving violation.

    • 0 avatar

      I was pulled over by an Oregon State Police officer the last time I was driving in Oregon for obstructing traffic. TO quote the officer, I was going “50ish” in a 55 zone (54 according to my speedometer) and failed to pull over to allow other traffic to pass. The other traffic was the officer on this very rural highway. Given my proclivity for quick acceleration and pushing the speed limit, everybody in my office thought it was quite funny that I was pulled over for driving to slow. At the time it happened I was less than amused at the fishing expedition that this officer was on (my car has California plates and tinted windows and that is a red flag in Oregon).

  • avatar

    Perhaps they should put “Dept. of Taxation” on their vehicles. Ridiculous.


  • avatar

    Welcome to the new taxation!

    Confiscations for drug offenses solidified the profit motive into law enforcement by making it socially acceptable to shred the constitution “for the children”.

    Now with red light cameras, speed cameras, and even more Orwellian tech just waiting to jump off the shelves, the play money supply from the Feds is drying up.

    So, does anyone really believe cops are gonna give up their current overstaffing levels, cool new toys, and benes, or that pols are going to leave a revenue stream untapped?

    If you do not vote to give the government money via taxation, they will find another way to obtain the funds. Taxpayers have demanded and/or allowed unfunded mandates to grow unchecked for the last 30+ years. Time to pay the piper.

  • avatar

    At first I thought the headline was sarcastic…considering that monstrosity of a police vehicle probably cost a pretty penny.

  • avatar

    Modern day Highway men, the lot of em.

  • avatar

    In my experience Viginia has always been this way. On trips up and down the east coast Virginia always had the most aggressive speed enforcement followed closely by Maryland. I just learned to set the cruise at the speed limit and stick to the right lane.

  • avatar

    To help defeat this sort of nonsense, the citizenry should contest
    every ticket in court, even demanding jury trials. This will clog
    the courst system AND take the cops (er…, revenue agents) off
    the streets for several hours for every court trip. But alas,
    this will not happen, of course. Government relies heavily and
    justifiably on the citizenry being sheep – sheeple is the more
    appropriate term I think.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re from out of state, which is extremely likely given the way they patrol, then this isn’t an entirely viable option.

    • 0 avatar

      If it’s really taxation then it’s technically interstate commerce. As such the Fed should regulate it and force states to offer VTC hearings so out-of-state-ers don’t have to travel for the court date.

      OK, so I’m grasping at straws to make a logical case to force VTC traffic hearings (they do it for convicts in jail) so this entrapment or residency profiling can be contested. ALSO, I’d never, without sarcasm, suggest more powers for the federal government.

      I would like to hear from a principled law officer on their opinion regarding this, what seems to me to be, ridiculous use the police. I suspect that it actually undermines their authority if the populace begins to only see them as tax collectors||toll collectors||extortionists||etc.

  • avatar

    This certainly adds a new meaning to the concept of “pay as you go”.

  • avatar

    Sounds like another state that I wouldn’t want to visit on my next vacation! Say bye-bye to my tourist $$ Virginia!!

  • avatar

    Virgina is for Looters should be their new slogan.

  • avatar

    Isn’t being in VA punishment enough for drivers?

    I lived in NOVA for 8 years

  • avatar

    Don’t believe everything you’ve read in the “newspaper.” I’m a transplant to Virginia and have lived in the state for over 30 years. I would bet the state government is cleaner (as in less corrupt) than those in many states, esp. those farther north and east.

    About speeding, if you keep within the normal “tolerance” (and you all know what that is), you won’t be hassled. So don’t be afraid of visiting; there’s lots to see!

    What we are seeing right now is an extreme form of taxophobia, the perceived need to keep all taxes down despite the negative effects of fewer services (you may have heard about the rest stop closures, since rescinded) and proposed increases in “user fees.” One good thing though, we can’t run a deficit, unlike the federal government and some other states.

    • 0 avatar

      “fewer services” = fewer government union workers with benefits that are going to bankrupt the country

    • 0 avatar

      What “government union workers”? VA is a right-to-work state, so unions are not common, nor do I believe there are any at the state gov’t level.

    • 0 avatar

      Just because Virgina is a “Right To Work’ state doesn’t mean it isn’t stacked to the rafters with bureaucrats. One point has nothing to do with the other.

    • 0 avatar

      With all due respect … those people talking about bloated government unionized bureaucracies in Virginia being the beneficiaries of these traffic tickets have no idea what they are talking about.

      Guys – really. This boilerplate anti-government grousing is really wrong when applied to Virginia. The state has lots of issues – namely, a serious budget shortfall and a horror of increasing revenue through taxation. Bloated bureaucracy? Not so much. At all.

      You just sound dumb spouting this stuff. OK? Take it from those of us who live in the Commonwealth (or who have lived there until recently).

    • 0 avatar

      I live in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We have an award-winning bloated government. I have no idea of the extent of unionization in either ours nor any other state government.

      I do not live in Virginia so I am not in a position to make as educated an observation regarding their governments’ state of bloat as is a Virginia resident.

    • 0 avatar

      “What ‘government union workers’? VA is a right-to-work state, so unions are not common, nor do I believe there are any at the state gov’t level.”

      You are wrong. Virginia has the teachers union (Virginia Education Association) and the public employees union (Virginia Governmental Employees Association), and there are probably more. They are groups that actively lobby to increase their members pay and pension benefits at the expense of taxpayers. There is a reason Virginia has a $4 BILLION budget deficit.

    • 0 avatar

      Oops, I forgot the public sector law enforcement unions:

      1. Virginia State Police Association
      2. Virginia Sheriffs Association
      3. Virginia Police Benevolent Association

      All of them lobby for legislation to increase our taxes for the benefit of their members.

      So that’s at least 5 public sector unions in Virginia.

  • avatar

    Are you kidding me? I live in VA and use I95 and I81 regularly. I still don’t see the need to drive 90 and 100 mph there. Maybe they should confiscate the vehicles like a drug bust. That might slow some down but not all.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a wonderful idea, taking people’s property from them because they have broken some arbitrary law. Matter of fact, why stop at speeding. Why not measure tire tread depth or headlight alignment. Vehicles out of spec – on the hook.

      I’m being facetious here but what I am trying to illustrate is that if you want to jump on the confiscation bandwagon, make sure you know where that wagon is going to stop. Because your car might be the next passenger.

  • avatar

    Why don’t they just install Automated Ticket Machines in every vehicle connected to the OBDII and GPS enabled? It would correlate speed, lane changes, turn signal use, braking, etc. to location and automatically debit your credit card/checking account for every infraction. It would also send the information to your insurance company so they could immediately raise your rates, to the DMV to add points to your license and to credit agencies so they could lower your credit score.


  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Sounds like Virginia is almost as corrupt as the United Kingdom.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the tip. I have already contacted Virginia’s tourism people about the trip to Virginia we HAD planned for later in the year.

  • avatar

    They are making Ohio and the Ohio “Flying Tire Salesmen” Patrol look good!

  • avatar

    Will it check to see if you have any driving skill at 100mph? How about alcohol?

    • 0 avatar

      As someone who has done a lot of driving on interstates in various states, the problem drivers are those who think that slow=safe, and that being able to read two numbers on a sign is the only real skill that they need to master.

      Maybe we should start testing their skill level.

  • avatar

    I’ve lived in Virginia over 20 years and logged tens (likely hundreds) of thousands of miles on I-95, I-81, I-64, and lots of state highways. I generally drive 10-15% over the limit and have never even been pulled over for speeding, let alone ticketed. I am not dumb enough to exceed 80 mph or exceed a posted limit by 20 or more mph in Virginia because those offenses carry huge fines and the possibility of jail time. Be informed and understand the risks associated with your specific behavior, not just speeding in the abstract sense.

    Seriously folks, be alert and awake, and don’t multitask while driving. It’s not that hard. And this is in the one state that has outlawed radar detectors. If you don’t know the makes/models of vehicles law enforcement agencies are using and don’t have the common sense to intuit where they are hiding, please just set the cruise control at the speed limit and stay in the right lane. If your situational awareness is not sufficient to both know what to look for and be constantly scanning for it, then don’t speed!

    I guess I’m advocating “careful speeding” . . . .

    I don’t like the ticketing blitz method of taxing at all, but at least here in Virginia they issue warnings to the media several days before they do these blitzes. It was in the newspapers and on radio and TV news for several days before the weekend.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree. It isn’t hard to pick off lots of people doing stupid things at high speed on Virginia’s highways – and then write them substantial tickets. Particularly on the highways in NoVA, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

      I never got a speeding ticket during the 13 years I lived in Virginia. And I am not a slow driver.

      Part of me – PART of me – is sort of glad to see some better enforcement of the traffic laws. Whatever the motive. Because some of the driving on the Virginia portion of I-95, I-495, I-66 and so on is just stupid and frightening.

      This will get bad if it becomes unfair or arbitrary, however (like, ahem, the speed traps on the interstates in parts of Pennsylvania).


  • avatar

    Where’ve y’all been? County governments have been doing this sort of thing since the advent of the moving violation. Where I grew up, a plethora of speed traps was a sure sign that the county was having trouble meeting its budget. And if you’re from out of state, all the better; the judge won’t have to deal with the ticket being contested.

  • avatar

    Nothing new here. Tickets are revenue generators. I got a parking ticket outside of church one Sunday. Curb front and rear is red, where I parked was clear (OK for parking). Parked there for years. But, at beginning of block, about 200 yards back, in the direction I DON’T come from, is a sign “No parking entire block.”

    So, why a ticket now? City has a budget crunch and had the meter maids working overtime. $43!!!

    I protested (via mail, to the contractor that many municipalities hire to process tickets). Protest rejected. To appeal, I had to pay the $43, and either go to appeal in person (missing time from work) or appeal by mail. I mailed it in, rejected again. Could appeal by paying a filing fee.

    I gave up, which is what the expect the vast majority to do.

    It’s a racket.#$&^$%^&

  • avatar

    Well, I guess if you are going to pick the pockets of your constituents, you have to at least pretend to have some kind of methodology.

    The City of Toronto is a good scammer too. You can’t parallel park within x feet of a stop sign (I think it’s 15 feet). BUT the city would post signs saying ‘No parking from here to crossing’ 10 feet from the intersection. So, people who read the sign and parked at the 10 foot mark were getting tickets for being less than 15 feet from the intersection!

  • avatar

    Years ago I used to ride with some State Troopers in Florida and I have some insights into how they operate.

    1. The police do target out of state drivers because they are less likely to contest the ticket in court.

    2. Police officers don’t like to go to court any more than necessary and most try not to write tickets for marginal infractions. For this reason they will usually allow violators 10-15 mph over the limit before issuing a ticket. Remember that all officers are not this generous so you shouldn’t expect to get away with anything.

    3. If you want to avoid the police then you should not stand out in the crowd. Always keep your speed close to the flow of traffic. If traffic on the interstate is running 75-80 mph you don’t want to be the clown blowing by everyone-else at 90 mph.

    4. Don’t bet on your radar dector. For years police radar units have featured a hold button which allows cops to shut off the signal until they decide to clock a specific vehicle. By the time your radar dectector goes off and you can react the officer has already clocked your speed.

    5. If you do get caught the best thing to do is fess up. If you play stupid (what did I do?) or become angry or beligerant the officer is not going to cut you any slack. If you are polite and honest you may luck out and get off with a warning.

    6. If the police do a blitz and write a ridiculous number of tickets the problem is not the police. The problem is the ridiculous number of people who choose to drive at excessive speeds.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem is reactionary enforcement due to a government’s inability to manage a budget, and thinking that blitz-style enforcement is a good way to get easy money, instead of consistent enforcement. At an average ticket price of $1000 (hypothetical), they got rid of 0.3% of the budget. Good jerb.

      And if there are a “ridiculous number of people who choose to drive at excessive speeds,” then perhaps the speed limit is set artificially low, and should be increased. O, they are doing that, so just getting some money before it kicks in.

  • avatar

    I’m a Virginia transplant, born and raised in Maryland, and moved to the greater Richmond area just over three years ago but also attended college in SW Virginia (graduated almost 8 years ago). In those years I’ve only been pulled over once and ticketed for 78 in a 65 on I-81 in Pulaski county (crested a hill to be greeted by VSP in median). Compared to Maryland in the late 90s when I began driving Virginia is *much* more strict on highway enforcement. Maryland at the time was nearly a joke; in the early days of going up to 65mph limits officers nearly wouldn’t bother you for less than 21mph over the limit. The only ticket I received in MD was for 51 in a 30 and no points ever hit my license.

    Reckless driving in VA is 80mph or 20 over the limit, whichever is lower. At night time or in inclement weather I believe the margin between the posted limit and reckless is reduced, but I’m not certain.

    The I-81 and I-95 corridors were likely targeted for the blitz because there are also “highway safety corridors” along these interstates where the speed limits are artificially lowered and penalties/fines further increased because of either high traffic density and/or high accident rates for certain stretches of road.

    Speeding fines can go up to $500 and reckless and other criminal fines can go up to $2500 in these zones.

    I personally didn’t even notice the blitz. I left town and was in the Hampton Roads area, traveling down I-64 and back on Sunday exceeding the speed limit by 10mph (at least) the whole way. Didn’t see a single State Patrol car, but now I know why.

  • avatar

    About 3 years ago, I was driving home from Richmond to S.C. . 40 mi out (heading south) I was pulled over. I was in fact speeding, about 10 mi per hour over. ..But I was in a tight compacted flow of traffic (hwy 95) and lanes were full. I asked the officer “why me” out of the countless others holding the same speed pace. His answer: “I guess your just not lucky”!. I belive in my heart of hearts, it was the S.C. lic. plate that made me the “unlucky one”. Anyone that that has drove between Richmond and Petersburg at rush hour knows what that traffic is like. I promised myself then. “Screw VA.” , I had went there, one of many business trips. Spent my money on food lodging, but no more..I’ll never go back!!

  • avatar
    Arnold Ziffle

    I observed law enforcement on the interstate in Louisiana ignoring local drivers who were obviously speeding, and focusing on out of state drivers. There are several Florida residents filing suit on thisissue.

  • avatar

    Silly Officer, it’s “Serve and Protect” not “Tax and Collect”

  • avatar

    If you received one of these tickets and want to challenge it – on a pro bono basis – let me know: [email protected] I’m sick and tired of our elected officials forgetting the role and limitations of government. Google my name “Gregg Trautmann” and you can read about other outrageous state laws my firm is challenging – all on a pro bono basis. Take action against such outrageous actions by your government!!

  • avatar

    I say that everyone should take the tickets to court. Tie up the courts and the officers that are giving the tickets. I know it’s a day away from work, but I think it’s worth it to protest this BS.

    BTW, Gregg you are a patriot for the free help stopping this government abuse of power. Also, could we file a class action suit if we find that the VA state police are targeting out of state drivers?

  • avatar

    Ok I’ll bite.

    I’m a VA Trooper. Some of the comments are right on others not so much. MOST Troopers I know don’t write speeding tickets for anything less than 10 over. Some won’t start until 15 or 20! We don’t do it for the money, Troopers see zero. That’s the job we have choosen to do and enforcing the law has it’s drawbacks.

    ALS has been going on since 2006. It’s designed to save lives by encouraging people not to speed, drive reckless etc. When I run radar I find it almsot impossible to pick out “out-of-state” drivers. The cars are going 60-80+ MPH and see the tag isn’t easy so I will say MOST don’t do that anyway. It is true that most out of staters don’t go to court though. Speaking of court, we each have set dates so it matters not if they come to court or not. I have to be there anyway. If it’s my day off I get OT! Please come to court anytime you want. That’s the one part of the job that is entertaining! And you can’t get a jury trial unless the CA is seeking jail time so trying to screw the system that way won’t work. Now you ALL could appeal your cases to circuit court and that may cause a backup in the system.

    I would love for Greg to write how he would get people out of a ticket issued during ALS. Assuming the Trooper has all his ducks in a row. Short answer is…he can’t! I would also love to hear how you could prove VSP targets out of state drivers?

    It wasn’t long ago that ONLY Va residents had to pay an extra penatly for RD. Out of staters didn’t have too. Is that proof enough?

  • avatar

    All the people on here complaining about it being wrong, etc. need to learn how to follow the law and do what is right. If the speed limit is 65 then drive 65. If you do this you will not get stopped and ticketed. If you want a ticket then speed and pay your fine. If you want to play you have to pay. End of story.

  • avatar

    As you may know, Virginia is the only state that bans the use and sale of radar detectors. There is no evidence that the radar detector ban increases highway safety. Our nation’s fatality rates have fallen consistently for almost two decades. Virginia’s fatality rate has also fallen, but not any more dramatically than it has nationwide. Research has even shown that radar detector owners have a lower accident rate than motorists who do not own a detector.
    Maintaining the ban is not in the best interest of Virginians or visitors to the state. I know and know of people that will not drive in Virginia due to this ban. Unjust enforcement practices are not unheard of, and radar detectors can keep safe motorists from being exploited by abusive speed traps. Likewise, the ban has a negative impact on Virginia’s business community. Electronic distributors lose business to neighboring states and Virginia misses out on valuable sales tax revenue.
    Radar detector bans do not work. Research and experience show that radar detector bans do not result in lower accident rates, improved speed-limit compliance or reduce auto insurance expenditures.
    • The Virginia radar detector ban is difficult and expensive to enforce. The Virginia ban diverts precious law enforcement resources from more important duties and this ban may be ILLEGAL.
    • Radar detectors are legal in the rest of the nation, in all 49 other states. In fact, the first state to test a radar detector ban, Connecticut, repealed the law – it ruled the law was ineffective and unfair. It is time for our Virginia to join the rest of the nation.
    • It has never been shown that radar detectors cause accidents or even encourage motorists to drive faster than they would otherwise. The Yankelovich – Clancy – Shulman Radar Detector Study conducted in 1987, showed that radar detector users drove an average of 34% further between accidents (233,933 miles versus 174,554 miles) than non radar detector users. The study also showed that they have much higher seat belt use compliance. If drivers with radar detectors have fewer accidents, it follows that they have reduced insurance costs – it is counterproductive to ban radar detectors.
    • In a similar study performed in Great Britain by MORI in 2001 the summary reports that “Users (of radar detectors) appear to travel 50% further between accidents than non-users. In this survey the users interviewed traveling on average 217,353 miles between accidents compared to 143,401 miles between accidents of those non-users randomly drawn from the general public.” The MORI study also reported “Three quarters agree, perhaps unsurprisingly, that since purchasing a radar detector they have become more conscious about keeping to the speed limit…” and “Three in five detector users claim to have become a safer driver since purchasing a detector.”
    • Modern radar detectors play a significant role in preventing accidents and laying the technology foundation for the Safety Warning System® (SWS). Radar detectors with SWS alert motorists to oncoming emergency vehicles, potential road hazards, and unusual traffic conditions. There are more than 10 million radar detectors with SWS in use nationwide. The federal government has earmarked $2.1 million for further study of the SWS over a three-year period of time. The U.S. Department of Transportation is administering grants to state and local governments to purchase the SWS system and study its effectiveness (for example, in the form of SWS transmitters for school buses and emergency vehicles). The drivers of Virginia deserve the right to the important safety benefits that SWS delivers.
    Please sign this petition and help to repeal this ban and give drivers in Virginia the freedom to know if they are under surveillance and to use their property legally:
    Tell Friends and Family about this.

  • avatar

    I just learned to set the cruise at the speed limit and stick to the right lane. Now you ALL could appeal your cases to circuit court and that may cause a backup in the system.
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