Va. Senate takes another run at dropping jail time for some speeding violations

WASHINGTON — The threat of jail time for going 11 mph over the speed limit on some stretches of Virginia highway would be lifted under a bill overwhelmingly approved Tuesday by the Virginia Senate.

Current law sets either 20 mph over the posted speed limit or 80 mph — whichever is lower, as an automatic trigger for a reckless driving charge. That applies even on parts of highways such as Interstate 95 where the speed limit is 70 mph.

“If you drive 11 miles over that speed limit, you are classified as reckless driving which … can be punished by a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine, and I don’t think that any of us really believe that going 11 miles over the speed limit should be punishable by that,” the bill’s patron David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke, said before the bill passed 34-6.

The Senate passed the bill last year 26-14, but the bill died in a House of Delegates committee.

“This is a bill that we passed on a broad bipartisan vote last year, unfortunately the other chamber didn’t see the wisdom of it,” Suetterlein said.

Opponents have argued that it is dangerous to drive over 80 mph.

The bill now goes to the House, which has until the session ends in late February to act on it.

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