You’re rushing to make your shift, stressed out and thinking about how you’re going to explain how late you are to your boss when all of a sudden you see those dreaded flashing lights directly behind you. Don’t panic! In this post, I’m going to go over what to expect and what to do when you are pulled over for speeding in Virginia.
What to do when you are pulled over in Virginia:
First of all, you don’t want to get shot by a cop on the side of the road. No joke! This is a thing these days! So, here is what the police want you to do when you are pulled over.
- Put on your flashers
- Pull as far off the road as you safely can so the officer won’t have to stand in traffic
- Lower your windows (so he can see in) and turn on the dome light (if it is dark)
- Put both hands on the steering wheel (so he can see you aren’t concealing a gun)
- Sit still until the officer approaches, then do only what he says
Speak as little as is consistent with polite cooperation. Anything you say can be used against you so try not to inadvertently admit guilt.
Important Driving Laws in Virginia:
Now let’s look at some of the most important laws to keep in mind when driving in Virginia.
Reckless Driving. Going 80 mph (anywhere in Virginia) or going 20 mph over the posted speed limit constitutes reckless driving (RD) in Virginia.
In Virginia, it is insanely easy to be charged with reckless driving (RD) for simple speed. RD is a criminal charge which often leads to jail time for ordinary law-abiding citizens. It has high fines (up to $2500.00) and adds 6 points to your license. It stays on your driving record for 11 years, and on your criminal record forever. If you are charged with RD, you should go to court and fight it, because if you get it on your record, it can affect your ability to pass background checks for housing and employment for the rest of your life. Try to get it reduced to “improper driving” which is only a “traffic offense,” not a crime, carries only 3 points, and goes off your driving record in 3 years. Remember, NEVER EXCEED 80 MPH IN VIRGINIA, even if the speed limit is 75! This one law brings in lots of revenue for VA and they are very serious about enforcing it.
Highway Safety Corridors and Work Zone
Certain areas along Virginia highways have been designated for “enhanced enforcement” of speeding laws. As of today, I am aware of 3 highway safety corridors – one on Interstate 81 and two on Interstate 95. They are clearly marked, and if you are pulled over for speeding in one, your fine will be doubled. Work zones involve double fines as well, and have additional restrictions to foster safety. For example, no passing is allowed in a work zone. Citations for reckless driving are more common for speeding in work zones.
Slow Down/Move Over Law
Another law that the police enforce strongly is the relatively new Move Over Law. Police have been known to chase down motorists who fail to slow down or move over as they pass a stopped police car. Under certain circumstances, the penalties can be severe for this, but the law itself is somewhat vague and subject to interpretation. Bottom line: if you see an emergency vehicle or police car with lights flashing on the side of the road, attempt to change lanes to the left. If that is impossible or unsafe, slow down and pass the roadside situation with care. If you have any legitimate reason for failing to do this, take note of it because you can tell it to the judge to justify your omission.
The consequences of habitually speeding in Virginia are far-reaching. My foster son lost an officer’s commission in the army, that he had worked very long and hard for, solely because of speeding. People (including my son) have gone to jail for speeding, have been deported for it, have had their lives permanently damaged by it, even though no accident ever occurred. I ended up owning Colonial Driving School because I didn’t realize that I should go to court and get my speeding tickets dismissed. In 2012 I got 3 speeding tickets, all of which I paid by mail. Then I got a letter from DMV that if I got one more point they would suspend my license. I went to driving school to get some points off and ended up buying the business!
So in Virginia, don’t speed. And if you do get a ticket, don’t just pay it – take a Driver Improvement Clinic and go to court and ask the judge for leniency. Speeding is serious business in Virginia. Don’t let your life be ruined by it.