By on February 15, 2011

The Virginia House of Delegates and a state Senate committee approved legislation that would make a rolling right-hand turn on a red light a reckless driving offense. On Thursday the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved a bill introduced by Delegate Bill Janis (R-Glen Allen) which the lower chamber had approved by a 67 to 31 margin on February 4.

“Any person who drives a motor vehicle in violation of Section 46.2-833 is guilty of reckless driving,” House Bill 1993 states.

Under current law, Section 46.2-833, as referenced above, makes it an infraction either to turn right without stopping on a red light or to enter an intersection a fraction of a second after the light changes to red. The effect of the bill would be to change the penalty for a California stop into a class one misdemeanor carrying six license points, a fine of up to $2500, up to one year in jail and a six-month driver’s license suspension. US Department of Transportation statistics show that rolling stops rarely cause accidents (view report).

This outcome is clearly contemplated by the House Courts of Justice Committee which amended the original version of the bill which only sought to impose the reckless penalty on anyone who “unintentionally causes the serious bodily injury or death of another” through red light running. The committee also struck a provision ensuring that the reckless penalty is not applied to infractions detected by a red light camera.

Virginia lawmakers are notorious for turning what other states treat as ordinary traffic infractions into serious misdemeanors. For example, the offense of driving as little as 10 MPH over the limit on some rural interstates may only be charged as reckless driving. Section 46.2-860 of the state code allows police to cite motorists who fail to use a turn signal with reckless driving. In an interview with TheNewspaper, senior Virginia State Police officials confirmed that there are no written guidelines covering offenses that can be treated either as infractions or as reckless driving, leaving police officers free to cite under the reckless statute at their discretion.

The issue came to light in 2007 when the state attempted to impose a mandatory $1050 tax on reckless driving convictions which turned out primarily to involve minor speeding offenses. A bicyclist in Newport News was charged with reckless driving for pedaling too fast. In practice, the state uses the reckless charge to discourage motorists from challenging citations by forcing a plea bargain that is favorable to the state.

A copy of House Bill 1993 in the version as passed by the House, followed by the original version, is available in a 10k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File House Bill 1993 (Virginia General Assembly, 1/31/2011)

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

34 Comments on “Virginia House Makes Rolling Right Turn Reckless Driving...”


  • avatar
    M 1

    What’s really needed is a Reckless Legislating law.

  • avatar
    John R

    Blech, Draco says hello. As if Virginia drivers needed another reason to be insufferable slow pokes.
     
    Do these people want people to visit their state? The beaches are nice, but DE and MD have nice beaches, too – and you don’t have to lose your license to enjoy them.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    And this is one of our more conservative state govts? We are indeed in deep trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Virginia is a deeply purple state.  The metropolitan areas of Hampton Roads and the NoVA DC suburbs are as true-blue as they come, as are the minority-majority areas in southeastern VA.  Richmond city is about as screwy as anyplace I’ve ever been.  The rest of the state is rather red, but mostly because of the near-Bible belt mentality which has more fascist tendency than libertarian tendencies.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      Yes, Virginia is purple.  Not in the sense of a reasonable middle ground.  But a purple made up of blue state pettiness enforced with red state brutality.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    As a Virginia resident, I’m appalled.  I had no idea this was even coming up this session, as if they don’t have anything better to do.
     
    The article is right, 80mph is “reckless driving” regardless of the speed limit, which was recently raised to 70mph on many controlled-access and interstate roadways throughout the state.  At lower speed limits, 20 over is reckless.  Slowing way down and rolling through a right-on-red is a perfectly safe thing to do, as is rolling through a right at a stop sign as I do both almost every single day.  There is nothing reckless about it.
     
    What the state is truly trying to do, rather than enforce a respect for traffic and the right-of-way, is enforce a fascist adherence to the law for the law’s sake.  We have a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws.  If rolling right on red does not disrupt another motorist’s right-of-way it is perfectly fine.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      The problem is the slowing down part. Is slowing from 45mph to 20mph OK? or 20 to 5? As a cyclist this is the move that has nearly killed me more than any other. Most people interpret the slowing down part as optional. Seeing other cars is one thing but spotting kids or bikes in a cross walk is another.

    • 0 avatar
      snabster

      I’d agree the “slowing down” part is a problem, but let me put it another way:
       
      there isn’t an exception for bicycles. Every bike that goes throw a stop sign or red light is guilty of reckless driving and a $500 fine.
       
      How do you like those apples?

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      snabster
      I don’t mind that at all but before you go all “apples to apples” on me a bike weighs 25 lbs. and a car weighs 3000+ on average. Get it?  I ride/race extensively and have zero problem enforcing all laws to cyclist that apply to cars. Recently our local PD wrote multiple tickets to a group ride (that I quit riding in) because of there lawless behavior, I supported this.

    • 0 avatar
      snabster

      DSwilly;
       
      I am not making judgement on you;  I am commenting on the legislation. As you know, bicycles are considered vehicles for many purposes, which is why you can get a DUI and suspended license for driving while biking.
       
      Although I am wrong:  reading it in the original PDF makes clear it only apples to motor vehicles, not bicycles.

    • 0 avatar
      AlexG55

      snabster: Driving while biking? I’d certainly consider attempting to control two vehicles at once reckless, even if one of them is a bicycle…
      Here in the UK, while drunken or “furious” (i.e. dangerously fast) cycling are offences, there is no provision for them or any other offence not involving a motor vehicle to affect your driving license. It’s a badge of honour among some groups of cyclists to have triggered a speed camera.

    • 0 avatar
      snabster

      @AlexG55;  driving while intoxicated.
      Very possible in the US to get a very nasty criminal charge for that while on your bicycle, lawnmower or motorized wheelchair.  Vehicle, unless specially defined down, has a broad definition.

  • avatar
    snabster

    calling my state reps right now….

    (updated) since those stupid republicans passed it in the house, call you SENATORS.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    Virginia LOVES  reckless driving. I’m not sure if it’s a revenue generating scheme or a “think of the children” response. I believe 15+ over is reckless driving as well. It’s one of the reasons we try to avoid the state when our motorcycle group does multi-state rides.

    • 0 avatar
      ufomike

      It is a revenue generating scheme for the lawyers. If you look up the politicians involved who originally started making regular traffic violations into reckless driving you’ll see that many of them have connections to law firms specializing in traffic law. 

      The scam works like this, you’ll typically get off with a much lower offense that carries a $150-200 penalty but you’ll spend something like a $1000 on a lawyer to do so. Personally, I am staying the hell out of Virginia. If they keep passing draconian laws like these there will be a day when many in virginia would rather attempt to outrun the cops then pull over.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    Yep, as I said in this thread: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/how-safe-is-your-state-to-drive-in/
     
    …Virginia is the perfect counterpoint for ‘Less motor vehicle laws = freedom.’ It’s not quantity, but quality.
     
    Virginia is for lovers of authoritarianism and surveillance.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    And you still can’t use a radar detector in VA.  Or at least, not in plain sight.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    So, is there anything you can do in car now days that isn’t illegal?  Traffic laws are getting so Kafka-esque.

  • avatar
    ScottA

    I’m surprised there aren’t more santimonious comments about how if people just followed the law they wouldn’t have a problem similar to any article about speeding.

    “I come to a complete stop at every intersection. It only takes me a few more minutes and even though I might be inconveniencing the people behind me it allows me to feel superior”

    And at what point do these fines violate the eight amendment? $1000 for rolling through a light? Please. I just think this is part of societies overall problem of demonizing everything and charging fines or sin taxes under the guise “it’s for the common good” or politicans favorite “But what about the children!!!!”

  • avatar
    dolo54

    If it saves one child it’s worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jedchev

      Are you serious? What about limiting the top speed of cars to 10mph? Or mandating that children wear protective gear and a helmet wherever they go? Or making it a crime to feed children junk food? I hope you’re joking, because you would be welcoming totalitarianism with open arms if you use that “reasoning.”

  • avatar
    obbop

    I am in total agreement with all attempts to attain wreckless driving.

  • avatar
    cwmoo740

    Not once have I seen a cop make a full stop at a right turn on red in California unless there was heavy traffic in the way. I hope for sanity’s sake that the cops in Virginia at least come to a complete stop at a right turn on red if they plan on making this a reckless driving charge.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I’ve lived in the State (er Commonwealth) of Virginia for ten years and I’ve never felt that those who enforce traffic laws here are unfair.  I’ve been stopped a few times and always got away with a warning ticket (knock on faux wood).  Maybe it’s because I’m an old “Coot” like oppbop. 

    The big push for upgrading many violations here to reckless driving status is designed to raise revenue.  Virginia is like many states – going broke fast.

  • avatar
    foolish

    Thing is, it’s already the law that you must stop to make a right on red. If you don’t do that, you’re taking the chance of getting a ticket.
    That ticket should not be a reckless driving ticket, though! The fines, JAILTIME??? and associated punitive increase in car insurance rates constitute excessive punishment.
     
    Crap like this makes me want to move out of VA forever.

    • 0 avatar
      Darkhorse

      foolish – I hear you.  I’d like to flee the Commonwealth too.  Maybe we can get Northern Virginia to secede and join The Peoples Republic of Maryland.  That would be like fleeing North Korea for Denmark.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Darkhorse – I can’t make any sense out of your post. P.R.O.M. doesn’t get called that because they have a growing economy and a trade surplus. They do things like fitting radar units to highway median lawnmowers. It might be good to cut northern virginia loose though. Without their influence, the state might have a chance to shake off the totalitarian tendencies, but it would also lose the revenue base of all those federal tax dollar leeches. The three highest paid zip codes left under this regime are all in NoVa. Federal employees now make an average of $123,000 a year, which explains why NoVa voters can never have enough government.

    • 0 avatar
      Darkhorse

      CJinSD – My attempt at humor, poor as it was.  My wife and I both work in the private sector so we are the minority here in NoVa.  I am surrounded by guvmint apparachniks here, all making big $$$.  You go to a social event and all they talk about is “how many years to retirement”.  I’ll retire the day I drop dead at my desk with my 401K having been appropriated by Wall Street.  I have to say that Maryland may be worse than VA.  MD cops are the worse.  I once read there are more police per capita in Maryland than any other state.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Darkhorse – thanks for clearing that up. I had a federal security clearance background checker contact me about a former coworker. I initially tried to avoid the interview, as there was nothing good to be said. They were persistent though, and hell if I was going to perjur myself. I told them he regularly spoke of how he hated his country, bragged about his ecstacy use while snow boarding and hiking, and that he talked about arson in a way that made it pretty clear that he was at the least a big fan of the Ecological Liberation Front, and probably a practicing member. He works for the EPA now.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Like someone said – it’s all about da money! Safety? Really – give me a break! I live in NC and thank God there’s not a damn thing I care to see in VA, yes – been to the theme parks and beaches, big deal. When vacation time comes I head south.

  • avatar
    william442

    Driving in Tidewater Virginia is very tedious for me during the four to five months I spend there each year. It is almost impossible to speed beacuse of the erratic heavy traffic on the interstates. I have become an expert at ignoring stop sign intimidation, and avoiding red light runners. I walk when ever I can.
    I live very close to I-75in Tampa. It is more of a racetrack than a highway, with motorcycles, trucks, and old people all in a hurry. For some reason it works.
    Oh well. I hear virgina is broke.

  • avatar
    straightsix

    Another wrinkle in the story (as reported at http://www.welovedc.com)
    “The committee that proposed the bill is chaired by Rep. David Albo, whose firm does work related to DUI defense and other “Serious Traffic Issues.” Who better to defend you than the guy whose committee brought out the law, right?”
    Their full story:  http://www.welovedc.com/2011/02/15/virginia-to-alter-stop-light-laws/

  • avatar
    Acd

    Most intersections in Georgia have yield signs–makes a lot more sense than requiring people to come to a complete stop for no apparent reason.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • SCE to AUX: I was shocked to see an SSR in the wild the other day. The Hummer EV will do better, but I wouldn’t...
  • SCE to AUX: Yeah, I’ll bet the engineers didn’t think of that. Have you seen the armor plate under the...
  • CaddyDaddy: Ya, but when Dalton got to Missouri and the Roadhouse, the Riv was the one to go with for the Dirty Work.
  • Corey Lewis: You do British condescension so well!
  • Old_WRX: If they don’t offer that interior in magenta crushed velour fabric it would be such a shame.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber