In Which Our Author Narrowly Missed a Trip to Jail

W Christian Mental Ward
by W Christian Mental Ward

Or, as I call it, Virginia is stupid…

Last month I spent a fantastic weekend at Pittsburg International Race Complex working my part time gig coaching in supercars. PittsRace is a great facility, lots of runoff, wonderful employees and a pretty great go-kart track. If you swing by, tell Mikey that Mental sends his best.

My drive home was dictated by WAZE to route me through roughly 90 miles of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I emerged on the VA side of the East River Mountain tunnel and allowed the weight of my SUV to pull me down the hill.

Yes, I was speeding. I usually am. I learned to drive in Atlanta, and I live here now. We drive fast, as do most metropolitan areas. 15 over will not earn you a second glance in the ATL, unless you have Alabama plates and it’s college football season.

My speed had crept up to around 85. That’s when I spotted the white Ford Taurus Police Special. I was busted. On the rare occasions this happens, I do not feign innocence, I pull over and avoid a prolonged dance. Usually I am stopped before they have exerted effort. I pull far over, turn off the engine, my sunglasses come off, my hands stay in view and I make eye contact in the mirror as they approach.

The good sergeant informed me I was clocked at 84 in a 70. I acknowledged my egregious ways and dutifully handed over my required documents. When he returned to my vehicle, he let me know that I would only be cited for 80. I credit my retired military plates and polite demeanor for this grace on the trooper’s part. He also informed me this would reduce the charge from reckless driving to simple speeding.

Reckless driving? For 14 over? Even in my home state of Georgia 85 only gets you branded a “Super Speeder.” That adds $200 on top of the actual ticket in a clear fundraising measure.

After I told this tale, my friends informed me of how lucky I was the trooper had mercy. I didn’t realize that reckless driving in Virgina is a jail-worthy offence. They linked me to this gem I missed last year in the midst of my retirement.

For years I have argued that speed enforcement stopped being about safety and became revenue generation during the double nickel era. But jail time is not revenue generation. Jail time equates to an expense. Mr. George paid $400 in fines and court costs and the state paid out over $300 to imprison him. Maybe the lawmakers are just that militant in Virginia – after all, radar detectors are illegal there despite an almost 30-year-old Supreme Court ruling that says different. Maybe Virginia is willing to commit their tax revenues to ensure safer roads. My research shows Virginia more or less in the middle of safest states with regards to motor vehicle accidents. So I was puzzled.

Then I returned from another trip. Waiting in my mail were letters from 5 separate attorneys’ willing to represent me, even if I had already paid the fine. Two more showed up this week. They had gotten my citation from the public records. The first one I opened offered to represent me for only $99 and guaranteed a price match if I found a cheaper lawyer. $99 for a $125 fine. Even Mr. George hired an attorney, so in addition to the $400, he had to pay that bill as well.

There it is. So the good, hardworking law enforcement officers in Virginia have now been reduced from toll collectors for Virginia’s municipalities to rainmakers for their law firms.

In the future, I will be avoiding aiding to the cause of both, as well as avoiding the entirety of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

W Christian Mental Ward
W Christian Mental Ward

School teacher, amateur racer, occasional story teller.

More by W Christian Mental Ward

Comments
Join the conversation
4 of 125 comments
  • VenomV12 VenomV12 on Jul 03, 2015

    What the hell is wrong with Virginia, all I ever hear is horror stories about that place, especially when it comes to speeding. How could the people that live there let that state become a hellhole like that, do you have no balls, no spine?

    • See 1 previous
    • Fendertweed Fendertweed on Jul 03, 2015

      The state govt. is still basically a plantation remnant bought & paid for by various special interests and backwards looking and thinking knuckle-draggers.

  • Fendertweed Fendertweed on Jul 03, 2015

    I've lived in VA for 28 yrs. To say that "their" heads are up their asses so far that they can't possibly see daylight doesn't begin to cover it, though I drive prudently and not recklessly, and have a good driving record. But I freely and frequently exercise my right under the FCC Act of 1934 (?) when it comes to receiving radio waves broadcast on public frequencies, if you catch my drift. If you live here, though, you know to keep it at 79-80 on cruise, if that, on highways, and watch it on local roads, there are hidden tax collectors all over.

  • Bd2 Probably too late to do anything about it for the launch, but Kia should plan on doing an extensive refresh of the front fascia (the earlier, the better) as the design looks really ungainly.
  • Namesakeone Since I include SUVs and minivans as trucks, I really cannot think of a brand that is truly truckless. MG maybe?
  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.
Next