Virginia could ditch jail time for drivers going 81 mph in a 70 mph zone

Virginia could remove the risk of jail time for drivers who speed 81 mph in a 70 mph zone.

The Virginia Senate voted 25-14 Monday to approve a bill that would change the automatic reckless driving standard from over 80 mph to over 85 mph in a 70 mph zone.

“I’ve not met anyone who actually thinks that driving 11 miles over the speed limit ought to be punished by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Unfortunately, that’s what the current law allows,” said state Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke.

The bill would keep the standard of reckless driving for speeding 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit.

Opponents of the bill worry it will simply encourage even more speeding. Though the Senate has passed versions of the bill in previous years, those measure have died in the House.

This year, a similar House bill has been endorsed by the House Transportation Committee, but it still must be considered by the Courts of Justice Committee.

In other action Monday, the Senate approved bills regulating abandoned shopping carts in Northern Virginia, banning hydraulic fracturing around the Chesapeake Bay, removing a ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds for people previously convicted of drug-related felonies and permitting older disabled prisoners to have an opportunity for parole.

The House approved bills including new student loan regulations and a bill that would make needle exchanges permanent.

Each chamber gave final approval to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

There are two weeks left for bills to pass one chamber or the other to remain alive this year.

The entire session, including a new two-year budget, is due to wrap up by March 7.

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