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This is the problem with enforcement -- it is a cash cow.


Anyone who has lived in this area knows you have to hire a lawyer to get your reckless in Virginia pled down. Standard issue. Judge will do it if you have a clean record.

So the county makes money, and the lawyers who control the county make money.

It sucks for the guy - who will abide by laws against driving with a suspended license but didn't use the same good judgement about keeping his speed under 80?

Sounds about right to me.

Oops, didn't say this before: this becomes a story when his license is restored and he realizes he could have been not driving all along so he continues to leave the car home sometimes. As long as it's a story about how his life is diminished by not driving it's still a perspective I don't find interesting.

Gotta really feel for this guy. Geeze, how awful that a guy driving 80+ MPH has been taken off the road. I mean what would happen if all the reckless drivers were removed from the road???

Saw an unrelated NBC4 piece on new DC DWI penalties. Very frustrating - they talk about mandatory jail and fines, but silent on the issue of if/when convicted folks are allowed back on the road.

I do feel a bit bad that the guy got a suspended license for an offense that falls on the lower end of my spectrum of things you oughta lose your license over. But I'd welcome any moves away from using only fines, civil recovery, and jail to punish driving infractions, and more toward actually making roads safer (and less congested!) by taking these folks off the road.

81 in a 70 zone? Don't feel the least bit sorry for him. Unless I have to speed to keep up with traffic, 5mph over is about my limit (cruise control, use it people!) Cops won't pull you over for it, but it's not so "slow" as to interfere with the crazies.

PS, Mary Cheh is fixing this. Already moving through the process.

Seems like he fell into a definitional mismatch between jurisdictions. Laws are not supposed to be arbitrary like that, so my vote is that this is a minor injustice.

To be fair the speed limit was 70 and he was tagged doing 81, and he claims he was not doing 81.

If I hadn't gotten a DUI 4+ years ago, I wouldn't be the cyclist I am today. Support de-licensing!

I'm a lot more worried about drivers doing 41 in a 30mph max residential road with lots of bike, kids, pedestrians nearby than somebody doing 81mph on a 70 max Interstate where I'll never be riding. Of course, I've never owned a car that could actually do 81mph anyways without rattling apart, so it's not an issue.

So, to summarize: a guy breaks the law, pleads guilty, and then complains about being punished. My heart bleeds - NOT. The only interesting things here are:

1) DC and VA define his crime differently and DC punishes him based on his VA plea.

2) He normally drives the whopping 10 miles between Chevy Chase and Rockville.

I'm with Greenbelt. 11 over in a 70 zone is a lot different than 11 over in a 30 zone.

Interesting people belting on about weak DUI/DWI laws. The limit is relatively low for being charged with impaired (.02+ in VA, .04+ in MD) meanwhile the penalty isn't very high. So you end up with some folks who had three beers in 70 minutes and drove home getting the same treatment as some folks who drank 13 beers in 70 minutes and drove home. The limit should for charging should be per se limit (.08) and the penalty should be doubled. Problem solved.

To the important question, is he really losing that much time cycling? Anyone who has ever driven in MoCo at rush hour knows that often times a slow jog would get you home at the same speed.

There is not such thing as a accident. When there is a collision one person or the other was not paying attention.

These drunks kill and maim . they belong in jail . Cars or rather their drivers kill more people then guns.
If they thought for one minute that they could go to jail for injuring a cyclist they would stop the close passing and look before they open their door into the bike lane

Ross, I sympathize with the guy because the law was not intended to take licenses away from people like him. At what point would the punishment for going 81 in a 70 be too high? Whether or not the law should be that way is another question.

David, no one mentioned an accident, but obviously there are accidents. Accident does not mean a lack of negligence.

@WashCycle:

Ross, I sympathize with the guy because the law was not intended to take licenses away from people like him.

is too strong for the facts, given the article states both:

And whether state law requires or merely allows police to charge drivers exceeding 80 mph with reckless driving is a matter of ongoing debate.
Lucinda Babers, director of the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, said a reckless speeding citation in Virginia is an “equivalent violation” to the District’s reckless driving, even if there is no “willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others.”

As a non-crazy daily commuter, I'd have to say that I sympathize with him as well. Though I don't like dangerous driving, I can be honest and say that while DRIVING I've occasionally noticed myself going too fast down hills and such....I'm human like the next guy. I'd hate to have my license PULLED after a single violation because of this.

No I don't want drivers speeding like mad and endangering other people. But I do get where he's coming from.
TB

I should add that some folks forced to bike commute have not kicked their drinking habits judging by the way they bike.

ken, But Lucinda Babers is wrong. They aren't equivalent. They're treated as equivalent. They're interpreted as such, but they aren't. The laws are different and the points are different (in Virginia it's only half what you need to lose a license and in DC its 100%).

It would be like if the DC government decided to treat Canadian dollars as equal to American dollars. Just doing so doesn't actually make them equal.

I'm kinda suprised they pulled him over at only 81. (Rural Virginia peeps are quite often going faster than that, except on college move weekends)

Likely, the 80 is a legacy from when the speed limits were only 55.

This may sound like a justified response to driving 15 mph over the speed limit, but can't the same disparity be used to give you 12 points on your D.C. driver's license for running a red light on your bike in Virginia?

If we all lost our licenses for driving 20% over the speed limit on the highway, I'd lose my license every day and so would the thousands of drivers who pass me. The punishment should fit the crime.

I understand that you disagree with Lucinda Babers. However, to me it is also clear that the statutory language quoted in the article is very open to interpretation and her conclusion is not unreasonable.

The issue of points strikes me as a straw man argument: Virginia may not choose to bar drivers who drive recklessly and only choose to bar drivers who drive really, really, recklessly: but that doesn't mean either that DC shouldn't or can't choose a different threshold.

I don't really disagree that several small stupidities are at play here that created an unintended consequence.

I am concerned that the harshness of this case undermines attempts to control those who are a more serious threat to life: those who kill, multiple DUIs, or speed in school zones or residential streets.

@washcycle

The USD>CAD exchange rate currently is 1.00 to 1.00. Just sayin...

@washcycle

The USD>CAD exchange rate currently is 1.00 to 1.00. Just sayin...

@SJE


I am concerned that the harshness of this case undermines attempts to control those who are a more serious threat to life: those who kill, multiple DUIs, or speed in school zones or residential streets.

A little differently, to me the harshness underscores the capriciousness of the statues, enforcement, and of course, dumb (in the truest sense) luck.

I agree ken. A law that is rarely enforced, has harsh consequences, and punishes less dangerous behavior more than more dangerous behavior is worse than useless.

I believe that this law also means that if a driver kills someone as a result of driving more than 80 mph, she can be convicted of manslaughter. Without that law, speed alone would not be enough, because courts have never found speed alone to imply reckless.

That does not mean that a jury will convinct someone, but it does mean that judges could no longer overturn such convicitons.

Jim: the law could be amended so that any death at 81mph is per se reckless, without having people lose their license for driving at 81mph.

The current law seems to think that death is a "whoops" without any additional factors. I think that the fact that someone died should be relevant to a consideration of whether there was dangerous driving. If you killed someone, it was dangerous.

That poor guy. Imagine having to take Metro or ride a bike to work! He should look at hiring a constitutional lawyer - there's definitely something in there about cruel and unusual punishment.

@washcycle:


Ross, I sympathize with the guy because the law was not intended to take licenses away from people like him. At what point would the punishment for going 81 in a 70 be too high? Whether or not the law should be that way is another question.

My key point was this: the VA law does not take away a driver's license for a single case of reckless driving. VA quite reasonably defines reckless as "too damn fast, period", and then arranges its point system to allow its drivers to get convicted four times before they lose their licenses.

DC, like most licensing jurisdictions, maps out-of-state offenses to its equivalent offense for purposes of assessing points against its drivers. They all use point systems that are of their own establishment, and rightly so.

DC apparently regards reckless driving as something to be suppressed in its pool of drivers: DC drivers convicted of reckless driving in DC would lose their licenses just as fast as being convicted in VA. VA apparently does not share DC's concern, as a VA driver convicted of reckless driving in DC would have the reverse situation - a decreased punishment.

Which jurisdiction is wrong would be an interesting policy debate.

But Ross, what he did would not be reckless driving in DC. So let's look at it:

Behavior in DC by DC resident - keeps license.

Behavior in DC by VA resident - keeps license.

Behavior in VA by VA resident - keeps license.

Behavior in VA by DC resident - loses license.

Does that make any sense at all?

If DC wants to say that driving over 80 mph will cost you your license, then they should do that. But saying that doing so in VA will cost you your license but in DC it will not is just plain stupid. And unfair. And so, I sympathize with this guy's situation.

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