Dear PoPville – Community Service Recs? Oh yeah, Don’t Speed in VA!!

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

“Dear PoPville,

I have to complete 6 hours of court ordered community service. I would like to do it in the neighborhood [Petworth] and I thought maybe the readers may have some suggestions. It cannot be a church or school and the place has to be 501(c)(3) organization.

What did I do to get this? Reckless driving charge for going over 80 mph on route 81. In VA reckless driving is anything going over 80mph (no matter the posted speed-in my case it was 70mph) or 20 mph over the posted speed limit and it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. One step below a felony.


People have gone to jail over this so I consider myself lucky for now. My charge will be reduced to Improper Driving if I satisfy all of the following by October 8th review.
-pay $500 fine
-complete drivers improvement
-complete 6 hours of community service
-infraction free until review date

Not to mention lawyer fees.

The maximum penalty for reckless driving is:
-Twelve months in jail
-Six months suspension of your Virginia driver’s license
-Six months suspension of your privilege to operate a motor vehicle in Virginia if you are licensed elsewhere,
-A fine of up to $2,500″

101 Comment

  • you should pick up trash…. difficult finding a 501c3 to do it for though

  • Accountering

    This… Is just another in the many reasons I try not to go to Virginia if at all possible. How the Virginia legislature hasn’t closed this loophole is beyond me. 81 on 95 south of Fredericksburg is not reckless, especially when the speed limit is 70.

    • Or the 295 Richmond outer loop. 8-10 extra wide, smooth, usually traffic free lanes. You get mowed down at 70.

      • Accountering

        Bingo… I know the spots you are talking about. It is a brand new, relatively straight, WAYYYY over-built highway. This road is like some of the roads in Texas/Utah etc, where the road truly is designed for speeds well in excess of 85MPH.

    • “How the Virginia legislature hasn’t closed this loophole is beyond me.”
      It’s purposely kept as a revenue generating machine, due to the fact that the Virginia legislature is loathe to raise taxes on anything. Anti-tax Republicans still gotta feed the beast and have giveaways to their donors, one way or another.
      VA is also controlled by their for-profit prison lobby. When you go to jail for 3 days for speeding, you pay the costs of your stay out-of-pocket. That’s all gravy for the Prison Inc.
      Seriously, it’s such a f#cked up and facist state.

      • brookland_rez

        This. It’s a huge revenue generator. They nail out of state driver passing through. As soon as you get back to your home state, you’re greeted with a pile of lawyer letters offering to go to court for you as long as you send them $2000. The lawyer happens to be buddy buddy with the prosecutor and gets it reduced for you and most likely gets a cut of the profit. This is one of the only sources of revenue for the poor counties in central and southern Virginia.

      • And yet they squeal about out speed cameras.

  • I know a police officer from Maryland that had to do 2 days in jail for speeding while off duty in Rappahannock County down by Luray. Virginia does NOT mess around with speeds of over 80 MPH (or 20+ MPH over whatever the speed limit is). OP was smart to lawyer up to avoid jail.

    • I just can’t imagine how anyone would think 20 miles over the posted limited is ok… Much less the ignorant statements about 85 miles an hour.

      That is just stupid.

  • My girlfriend got nailed with this last year, doing 81 mph on I-95 just north of Richmond at 6am on a Monday.
    Between the attorney costs, the fines, and classes it cost her nearly $1700. Plus a crazy amount of points on her driving record.
    Another reason why Virginia SUCKS.
    A timely article from earlier this week:

    • Happened to me on the way to my bachelor party, 81 in a 70. My lawyer got it turned into defective equipment which is a no points, non moving violation. Still had to explain to the bar about being charged with a crime though…

    • I read that article, very insightful.
      Remember when VA decided to come up with some draconian moving violation penalties for out-of-staters a few years back? Cooler heads eventually prevailed, surprisingly.

      • An 8/10 mile stretch of Interstate 295 near Hopewell, Virginia is dubbed the “Million Dollar Mile” because of the town’s penchant for issuing millions of dollars in speeding tickets a year, mostly to out-of- state motorists.

    • The article isn’t really on point, since the writer of that piece got caught doing 93 mph in a 55 zone.

  • Thankfully, Maryland drivers are so naturally gifted that speeding is not so harshly penalized.

  • It’s interesting because when I go to Virginia and drive the speed limit, I inevitably get my ass ridden by some Virginia driver. You’d think residents of the state would not be speeders considering the strict laws…

    • justinbc

      I think that’s a universal thing. It seems most people view speed limits as suggestions rather than laws.

      • Yes, this is true, but considering how strict speeding laws are in Virginia (and how harsh the consequences are) you’d think drivers would behave accordingly.

    • My first week in VA I got a speeding ticket (the first ever in my life) in a situation where I’d been the slowest person on the road and someone was aggressively tailgating me. The officer threw an “evading an officer” charge on top of the speeding charge just for the hell of it. When I showed up in court to argue the second charge the judge saw I’d had NJ plates at the time, and made a snide comment about the NJ Turnpike and refused to dismiss the charge. I try to avoid going into Virginia now. I’m terrified of the drivers out there anyway.

      • I too was pulled over in VA with Jersey plates. I got a reckless driving charge for going 81. When I told my friend (a police officer in VA) about it, she said “yeah, cause you had out of state plates.”

        That’s why the VA drivers don’t drive any slower, they pull over the out of state plates and pull in revenue that way.

    • ‘when I go to Virginia and drive the speed limit, I inevitably get my ass ridden by some Virginia driver’

      It’s almost as if most people who drive in Virginia are Virginian……who would’ve thought?

  • I guess I’m lucky – the handful of times I have to go to VA i usually get stuck in such horrible traffic it’s impossible to speed. Had to deal with the Dulles toll road last time. I hate that road!

  • I got into an argument with a cab driver in Fairfax County and got charged with public swearing. I went to court to try to get the charge dismissed, and the judge agreed to do it under the condition that I do community service. At the time Artomatic was happening, so I put in a lot of enjoyable volunteer hours there, and I also volunteered at events like the Red Cross festival in Alexandria.
    I did not fulfil the requirement because the judge wanted something like 100 hours in one month and I was working full time with a long commute, but the second judge dismissed my charge based on the fact that I had put in a good effort and the original requirement, in his words, had been absolutely ridiculous.
    At any rate, picking up 6 hours shouldn’t be too difficult.

  • There’s an Washington Humane Society animal shelter on GA avenue, north of Petworth but easy to get to. They have a volunteer page with a special link for court-ordered community service.

    Also, maybe Friends of the Old Soldier’s Home has something you can do?

  • 80 mph is too fast. Slow down.

    • Condescending and uninformative response. OP wants suggestions for volunteering, not “advice” about his/her driving speed.

      • Uninvited, yes. Condescending, no.

      • I’d say it’s needed information, since so many posters here seem to think it’s perfectly fine to go 80mph, despite clearly posted speed limit signage, and that it’s so unreasonable for VA troopers to enforce such a totally reasonable law. The more that it’s enforced, the more that people will actually change their behavior and slow down. Personally, I think the community service should consist of cleaning up after grisly highway collisions. OP says they feel lucky — I’d say they’re lucky they didn’t kill somebody.

        “DO NOT SPEED IN VA!!”

        Do not speed, period.

        • 80mph is NOT too fast on 81. I have driven that highway over 100 times and you may have to go 80mph to pass a truck, but then you slow down once you pass the truck. Furthermore, I’d say the average speed on that highway is a touch below 80, at 79mph. There’s hardly a difference between 79 and 80. If you’re going slower than that you’re going to get run over.

          • If there’s no difference, then why not just go 79 mph and avoid trouble? Or better yet, just play it safe and go 75.

          • justinbc

            By technicality of the law, yes, it is too fast. It doesn’t matter what drivers’ perceptions are of what’s safe, if there is codified language that states you may not go above this speed.

          • +1 to Justin’s comment from 3:45 pm.

        • Did you know that commercial airliners fly at speeds over 200 miles an hour?!

          i know! Scary right!?!?

          This is why people can get to places they couldn’t before because of walking.

          Also, bicyclists and pedestrians aren’t allowed on major highways, or to walk in front of airplanes when they’re flying.

    • 80 mph is fast, sure, but please explain your frame of reference for it being “too fast.”

      • Seriously? There are hundreds of studies connecting higher speed limits to more fatalities. Here’s one.

        Higher speed limits mean that more people die on the road. Or do you think there is no relationship between speed and the severity of the accident?

        • No one has ever claimed there is no relation between the speed and the severity of an accident, they are claiming that speed isn’t the CAUSE of the accident. Typically its distracted driving, or poor maintenance/upkeep done on the vehicle, ie. tire blowout, or just not knowing what the max speeds your tires are rated for. I’ve driven 140 once and that was pretty frightening for me, but 90-100 saves significant time compared to going 70 and also isn’t so fast that its out of control.

          • It seems logical to me that someone driving 90-100 has a lot less time to react in a situation than someone going 70-80 or, say, 60-70. That, plus the accidents will be many degrees of magnitude more severe. These things are obvious. I can’t believe I have to explain it to you. The fact that many accidents are caused by distracted driving doesn’t preclude the fact that speeding is also very dangerous.

            But hey, you get so save some time, so I guess screw everyone else, eh?

          • Because like I said you may have to get up to 80mph for less than 5 seconds to pass a truck (which are scary to drive next to on 81), but then you reduce your speed to 75 OR LOWER! God, you act like driving 80 for 5 seconds is a heinous crime. I’ve been going 72 before and then pass a truck and notice I am going 80 and go oh wow, and slow down.

          • >> But hey, you get so save some time, so I guess screw everyone else, eh?

            No one I’ve hit has ever filed a complaint!!

          • Ok Mike. Why does the Autobahn have a STARTLINGLY lower rate of accidents and fatalities per 100,000 drivers (yes less people drive on the Autobahn which is why the per 100,000 is important).

          • Many other countries have much more stringent tests to get a driver’s license than the various U.S. states do. (A friend of mine who had been driving for 15 years on a U.S. license had to take the test for her British license three times before she passed.) I would be surprised if Germany’s driving tests were as easy to pass as those here.
            You can argue that the current speed limits SHOULD be lower… but as long as they’re at their current levels, when you choose to drive 90 to save time you know you’re taking a risk. You can’t really complain if you get busted; you knew going into it that there was a possibility you might get caught, and you chose to take that chance.

          • I don’t follow you. Are you saying that the higher speeds permitted on autobahn make it safer? Would lowering the speeds there increase fatalities? Is that what you’re implying here? Either way, something like half of the Autobahn does have a posted speed limit.

          • I don’t believe I have ever driven a car over 65 miles an hour… What is wrong with you people trying to justify that.

            If you have to drive that fast to pass a truck, you both are breaking the law.

            I do the limit and politely wave at you people as you zoom around me like crazy fools.

        • Speed doesn’t kill you – speed differential does. Sell your Sentra and get something else.

          • What is it with all the macho BS going on in this thread? Sentra bashing is a new one to me. I guess the car makes the man. Good luck with that.

        • Well, I’m sorry I missed all this. Analog life was happening, you know.
          As has been said above, speed doesn’t kill, accidents kill. What causes accidents? Many different things. Distraction, medical emergency, bad weather, bald tires, etc. Speed does not cause accidents.
          As for why would 80 mph be too fast: on a fairly straight 4+ lane highway with fair weather and little traffic, 80 mph would be a perfectly fine speed at which to travel. Stuck in Georgetown during the evening rush hour in a light rain, 80 mph is stupid. It’s all about the CONDITIONS. Heck, even some US roads have daytime speed limits and nighttime speed limits. The same goes for those interstates that have separate limits for long-haul trucks. Conditions for those vehicles are different than for cars (Mass, agility, etc). And don’t forget how much politics and revenue considerations play a part in setting speed limits.
          Textdoc, it’s true that other countries, particularly those in Europe, have much more stringent testing requirements for driving, and I think we should adopt similar requirements, but what does that have to do with speed? That has all to do with driver education and driving laws, which affects most of those things that cause accidents, i.e., distraction, situational awareness, driver’s etiquette, automobile upkeep, etc. The Autobahn is safe because of driver education and drivers following the rules, WHICH ALLOWS FOR HIGHER RATES OF SPEED. I remember being driven in a taxi on the Autostrada up to Florence from Rome, and we were regularly doing 150km/hr or higher on the open road. We got to our destination just fine.
          Mike, you still haven’t made a case for why speeding, in and of itself, is dangerous. Sure, it’s dangerous due to other CONDITIONS (crappy drivers being the main one), but not dangerous alone.

          • justinbc

            It doesn’t matter why it’s dangerous. The law says that you can’t go above that speed, so if you do then you deserve a ticket. The fact that people have created this imaginary 7-11 mph over window where they think they should be ticket free just further shows how little regard people have for the law, and why so many people come to defend speeders…because virtually everyone does it.

          • I see, so you’re a “letter of the law,” rather than a “spirit of the law” type of guy. Stay far away from me, please.

  • I work with and we provide hours for community service. If you are allowed to drive, you can get more hours to help deliver food in DC. It’s every Saturday morning, centered near Dupont/16th Street. We get quite a few VA speeders.

  • Mary’s Center

    Georgia Avenue Family Support Collaborative
    4420 Georgia Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20011
    Office: (202) 722-1815 ext. 251
    Fax: (202) 722-4561

    The Green Door on Taylor Street.

  • Casey Trees has an event in Petworth on August 21st from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. It’s “caring for young trees” which probably means watering or filling ooze tubes.

  • The DC Blues Society needs volunteers for the DC Blues Festival (August 30)

  • Funny, I’m thinking about all the comments about NOT ticketing drivers, bickers, etc. in DC but now it seems the commentary is about actually ticketing people for speeding, reckless driving, etc. I remember my life in LA where you got a ticket for NOT stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, wish that would happen in DC.

  • In Virginia, just don’t go over 80 or 20MPH above the speed limit. And follow the unwritten rule of not exceeding the speed limit by more than 7MPH. Or get a ticket, I don’t care!

    • The issue is more about the harshness of the penalty and the inconsistency of enforcement.

      • It certainly fits the description of “cruel and unusual punishment.” But, then, I think VA wants to be like Texas.

      • Do you really the penalty is so harsh? Seems pretty reasonable to me. Community service is good for everybody, and six hours is nothing. A drivers improvement course also seems reasonable, given that the driver seems to be someone who routinely ignores even very high speed limits. So what’s the harsh part? The fine? I guess the question is what does it take to get people to stop engaging in dangerous behavior? What do you think would be an appropriate fine?

        -pay $500 fine
        -complete drivers improvement
        -complete 6 hours of community service
        -infraction free until review date

        • Well I got my license suspended for 60 days. Considering I worked in Virginia, and it took me over two hours to get to work each way by bus/metro, plus I had to pay a hefty fine, I consider it pretty harsh for a one time speeding infraction.

        • Are you a VA traffic court judge?

        • Mike,

          Either you’re missing, or willfully ignoring the point that the speeding charge is a Class One misdemeanor, which means you face jail time for traveling at 80 mph, not 100, but 80. That’s only 10 mph over the speed limit on some roads. The OP either pled, bargained, asked for mercy from the court, or had a lawyer that was good buddies with the judge to get the lower punishment meted out. The potential punishment DOES NOT FIT THE CRIME. If the statute called for community service and driving classes on top of a fine, and that’s what the judge actually doled out for minor speeding infractions, then I’d have less of a problem with the law here. But anyone who has read the original post can see that’s not the case.

          • DK – Like many statutes, this one establishes maximum possible penalties. These are clearly not minimums and are meant to give the judge discretion so that these maximum penalties can be applied in extreme cases. OP received what I think is pretty fair treatment. In other words, the punishment did fit the crime. Or do you know of examples where someone pulled over for going 80mph in a 70 zone was sent to jail?

            Anon – No I’m not a VA traffic court judge. Relevance?

            Other Anon – Sorry that your license was suspended. Slow down next time. Driving is a privilege, not a right. If it’s so important to you, then learn to obey the rules.

  • The Petworth Library probably has opportunities to earn volunteer hours.

  • I also need to do community service for the same charge, but I have 20 hours and a driving course. It is silly because in VA they have two statutes for reckless driving. One is by speed (which OP and I both got) and one is for actually driving recklessly. I was going 96 on I-66 during the midday when it was sunny and dry. My car tops out at 211 mph so I figured I was driving pretty reserved given the lack of traffic around me and the long straight away in front of me. The point is these archaic laws are just too big of revenue generators for state governments. These laws were enacted in the 70’s in order to curb fuel consumption during the gas crisis, and of course “for safety.” Cars of the 70’s are nothing like the cars of today in terms of HP, safety, handling, etc. The fact that going 81 is considered a semi-serious crime is a joke, and the fact that someone would be convicted of “reckless” driving based purely on how fast they were driving is an even bigger joke. If you read the court cases highlighting the two VA statutes for reckless driving, you will find that even drunk drivers or people who have literally crashed into a telephone pole were not convicted of reckless driving because they didn’t have proof that they were actually being reckless as defined by the typical legal definition of reckless.

    O but I do need some advice about where to do service around the Washington Circle area. Thanks.

    • “My car tops out at 211 mph so I figured I was driving pretty reserved.”

      Nice. In other words, “I’ve got a fancy sports car, so I should be able to go as fast as I like.”

      • Thank you for focusing on the joke of my post and not the substance because I know it is hard to rationalize speeding laws.

        • Eh? It’s no harder to rationalize laws against speeding than it is to rationalize laws against running red lights or driving drunk. Your entire argument has been that you just think people should be able to go as fast as they want, and damn the actual statistics linking speeding to fatalities. How is that a rational argument? You have zero facts on your side.

          • Actually speeding laws are nugatory. If everyone drove whatever speed they wanted to (above 60 on the interstate) and stayed in the right lane no matter what until they came upon someone going slower than them that they needed to pass then there would be no problem with speed. Its so simple, but people get angry if someone passes them or decide “hey I am going to speed up with him so he can’t pass me” or they think they are doing everyone a favor by going 75 in the fast lane and “slowing everyone down” because its “safer” when in fact it causes congestion which causes accidents. Actually you don’t have facts, as I posted above, the Autobahn has startlingly lower fatality rates than the US interstate system even when adjusting for population differences. The US interstate actually puts people into sleep like trances because of how straight it is and how gentle the curves are, so I’d rather people drive fast than drive slow and get lulled into a sleep where they are basically driving hypnotized.

          • The Autobahn is designed to much higher standards than US Interstates. You might as well be talking about accident rates on Mars.

    • LOLOLOLOL. 96 on 66 is definitely way too fast!! You’re lucky you didn’t get jail time. I like driving fast as much as the next person, but WOW!

      • Well it was like 100 miles outside of DC so not on the congested part of I-66, pretty open and straight, and I always slow down when going to the top of a hill in case there is hidden traffic/obstacles on the other side.

    • Your car doesn’t top out at 211 mph. There are no street legal cars sold in the US that go that fast.

      • You sir are misinformed clearly. My car is 6 years old and tops out at that speed (not that I would ever go that fast because I went 140 once and I don’t even want to go 140 ever again).

        • Well, what car then?

          • You’re right its 205. I don’t want to specifically name it but its a German sedan with a V-10 engine.

          • I don’t think buying a used car that was 5 years old when I bought it with 50k miles on it is compensating for anything… It’s ok Mike. One day you’ll quit driving your dads old Dodge neon and you’ll actually own a car that is fun to drive and you will understand where everyone else on this thread is coming from. If you think that going 90 vs 70 is “substantially less” reaction time, then you’re dreaming. And we are talking about interstate driving where you can see 5 miles a head of yourself, so as long as you aren’t picking up your Big Mac off the floor while you’re driving you should be fine, unless you’re tailgating someone (which doesn’t relate to speed).

          • Prince Of Petworth

            All I ask is the people don’t get personal. Stop attacking each other. It’s driving me (pun intended) nuts.

          • Wow, lots of snarky assumptions about what kind of car I must drive! FYI – I live in the city, so I got rid of my car years ago.

            But I’ll be sure to let you know when I hit my mid-life crisis. How’s yours going? Does speeding down the road in your sports car make up for the rocky marriage? The dead-end job? The feelings of worthlessness?

          • Sorry PoP. I was just responding in kind to his assumptions.

          • Unless there was a post in here that’s been deleted, I believe Anon actually “started it” with the post at 4:46 pm.
            But no matter who started it — come on! Stop it!

          • Prince Of Petworth

            Comments have been deleted. But now I’m tired. I’ve made my plea – what happens next happens.

  • I got clocked doing 81 mph on I-81 (honestly I may have been going a bit faster). I was very apologetic and polite to the State Trooper and he wrote me a ticket for going 79 mph. Saved me a trip to court and a big hassle.

    • Saved you ~$1000 in court and attorney fees, extra points on your record, and who-knows-how-much on your future auto insurance premiums. You should buy that cop a fancy dinner.

    • Similar to me – I got pulled over doing 80 in a 55 when I was 18 – two weeks before I was leaving for college. I knew about the points but had no idea about the rest of it. The state trooper felt sorry for me (my entire family was in the car with me) and gave it to me for 65 in a 55. I should send him a thanks even all these years later!

    • The cop was not interested in talk or my story. He simply wanted to give me a ticket.

    • I had much the same experience. I was stupidly driving too fast, and the deputy quite explicitly did me a favor by writing me a ticket for a slightly lower speed than he stated I had been doing. Mitigating circumstances no doubt included that it was Christmas, I was headed to my dad’s for the holiday, and I wasn’t otherwise driving dangerously. Once the deputy explained the repercussions for doing over 80, I did in fact slow way the hell down – which is of course the entire point of speeding tickets. Understanding even a mile over the speed limit is legally “too fast,” I hope this thread helps other drivers understand the potential consequences of speeding in Virginia.

  • Reading this thread and the jalopnik link make me feel blessed for not getting pulled over in VA. It also explains why I see so few people going over 80 mph there. I definitely won’t again…

  • I would love it if everyone drove below the speed limit, clogged up VA’s roads, and thus denied the counties of their sweet payday. It would eventually force the legislature to raise taxes to make up the shortfall.
    One can dream….
    PS – Cruise control is your friend in VA. Once I’m past Manassas/Woodbridge, I set it CC to 75 and forget about it.

  • Thanks everyone for their suggestions!

    I dont think that doing community service is a big deal or doing drivers improvement but treating non-criminal acts as criminal is insane to me. I know I am not a criminal and I did nothing morally wrong yet the state of VA wants to convict people of criminal acts. This is the logic I have a problem with. The law does not make sense and it is excessive. In majority of the world one would not be a criminal for going 10mph over the speed limit, so one must conclude that the state of VA is unreasonable.

    To give some additionally info. I got pulled over going down a very big hill and the cop was waiting at the bottom. There was one other car on the road the road had great visibility.

    Food for thought , if the speed limit was 75mph and reckless is at 80mph is that reasonable? 80mph seems like an arbitrary number and it cannot apply across every road and every situation.

    • Until you live in a world where the speed limit is assigned on a case-by-case basis, it might be a good idea to just obey the speed limit. Or at least not to act surprised if you don’t obey the speed limit and get caught.

      • Is the law not enforced in a case by case basis? The judgement is as well? Some people here stated that they drove 81mph in 80mph and it was reduced to 79mph. In my case it was not.

        • They were lucky. You weren’t. I don’t see why this is such a big deal to you. You might think the assigned speed limit is stupid, but as long as it exists and you choose to speed, you’re taking a chance that you might get caught. Why don’t you consider this one occasion as covering the zillion other instances when you’ve been speeding and haven’t been caught?

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