Gone Loopy (Again)…
my state has a thing for imposing grossly disproportionate-to-the-offense
punishments. Oh, not on the cretins who murder, rape or even steal.
Its usually necessary to kill, rape or steal multiple times
before my state begins to get cross-eyed.
But god help
you if you get caught breaking the law
law, that is.
down hard, then.
the customers pay better
One of the
favorite tools in Virginias kit is the reckless driving
charge. On the face of it, to those unfamiliar with how things go
down here, a reasonable assumption would be that you did something
obviously run amok to get slapped with reckless driving.
You know, 120 mph in a 45, weaving in and out like you were playing
Frogger in your Fiesta. Drunk out of your mind, rooster-tailing
through a soccer field full of kids. You get the idea.
well, reckless. Where others were in real peril of bodily
injury as a result of your actions. Something along those lines.
This is Virginia, after all. Here, you can get a reckless
driving ticket for awful things like exceeding the
posted speed limit by more than 20 mph. Back in the 80s, when
the 55 MPH max was still in force, I racked up half a dozen reckless
driving tickets for doing 76–80 on the highway. Today
with the same highways posted 70 MPH, doing 76 or so is
at most a very minor speeding ticket. I dont expect
to get a refund for all those years I paid double-tap insurance
for having those reckless driving tickets on my DMV
But wait, theres
ass clown (its always a Republican, isnt it?) has brought
forth a new reckless driving bear trap for you to get
snared in. Richmond Republican Bill Janis thinks anyone who doesnt
come to an absolute dead stop before making a right on red should
be cited for you guessed it reckless
driving. His bill (HB
1993) also tosses in fines up to $2,500 for this offense and
(yes, wait for it) jail time. Up to six months in the clink.
For a California
This is one of those situations where its at the cops
discretion whether to charge you with being reckless.
It could be that the intersection was obviously clear no
cars coming for miles and thus, your California Stop, while
maybe a technical violation of the statute, in no way threatened
anyones safety. Let alone could be reasonably described as
reckless. But get a dickhead cop who wants to make a
point and youll get the cite. And that means, getting a lawyer
essential when it comes to a reckless driving beef. A court
appearance is mandatory; you cant just send a fine in via
the mail. And if you lose, which you will without the help of your
very own Johnnie Cochran you know, someone like Bill Janis
its going to be a big deal. One that will continue
to be a big deal for the next three years, at least. Because thats
the length of time that six-point demerit slap and the reckless
driving charge smeared across your record will remain active.
The nanosecond your insurance company finds out, you are assured
of either having your premiums doubled or your policy cancelled.
A reckless driving conviction is cancer. Youre
And the most
egregious part? The insurance company (and the courts) dont
care that you didnt actually do anything reckless; that maybe
there should be a distinction between committing a California Stop
and something that sounds like (and might as well be) vehicular
manslaughter or its slightly lesser brother.
up the issue of proportionality.
crimes real crimes often dont carry with
them such severe sanctions. For example, just this week in my home
county, a loathsome cretin who forcibly
kidnapped a young girl from her home and, with her partner,
transported said minor girl across state lines to Pennsylvania for
purposes you can no doubt imagine, received her sentence: One year
in the clink. Yes, she received a ten year sentence
but nine were suspended. So, the actual punishment
for kidnapping and (likely) child rape: One year. For a California
stop? Six months.
Oh yeah: The
kidnapping pederasts didnt get socked with a $2,500 fine or
lose their driving privileges, either.
The late great
writer Sam Francis called this anarcho-tyranny
ordinary citizens facing increasingly severe and outlandish punishments
over increasingly trivial/minor infractions; meanwhile, serious
crime gets treated with kid gloves. Sam was onto something there.
order Republicans like this Janis guy establish their macho-man
credentials this way. Were tough on crime, you see. Only,
theyre not. Theyre tough on us, tough on the Bill of
Rights tough on anything except defending liberty and reasonableness,
the latter of which is a free society essential. Take it away and
youre left with a banana republic or something much darker
than that, on the East German model.
to be where were headed. Courtesy of guys like Bill Janis
who no doubt has an extra-large flag pin stuck on his lapel.
Because he believes in freedom and wants you to see
Bill has been tossed; but dont expect this to be the end of
it. To quote another Republican: Hell be back.
it in the Woods?
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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