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Sexual Battery . . . and Speeding

In Virginia, they’re both Class 1 Misdemeanors  – along with animal cruelty and larceny. One small notch below a felony. They’ll put you in jail for it. The speeding, I mean. Sexual battery? Meh. Give ‘em a fine, maybe an ankle bracelet, send ‘em on their way.

But Johnny Cochran help you if you get nabbed doing over 80 in Virginia. Or more than 20 MPH faster than any speed limit – no matter how preposterously under-posted.

A fellow car journalist over at Jalopnik just learned all about this . . . the hard way. Patrick George – I do not know him personally – was among a group of journalists out driving the new Camaro ZL1. (Your humble narrator is apparently on the outs with GM as I was not invited to this gig despite it being just a few hours’ drive away.) With a GM rep riding shotgun, George got clocked by one of Virginia’s Swinest – who apparently had nothing better to do that day – doing 93 in a posted 55. The “manufacturer tags” on the car did not help sway the enforcer of victimless crimes and Collector of the Revenue. George was issued a cite for “reckless” driving – statutorily defined [amazon asin=1590799755&template=*lrc ad (right)](see here) in the state of Virginia as driving 80 MPH or faster than 20 over any speed limit.

Doing 93 in a 55 qualifies on both counts.

Here’s what George faced in consequence:

(1) Up to 1 year in jail,

(2) Up to six months suspension of his driver’s license/privileges,

(3) A total of 6 DMV demerit points assigned to his record,

(4) Up to a $2,500 fine

 And what actually happened to George?[amazon asin=0986036293&template=*lrc ad (right)]

After hiring a shyster – no mention of the cost in the article George subsequently posted about his ordeal – he was offered a “deal” by the Andrey Vyshinsky of Rappahannock County, VA: Three days in the clink, a $400 fine and a 10-day suspension of his “privilege” to drive in VA. George did not mention the six DMV demerit points that will render him effectively uninsurable – or at least double the cost of his state-mandatory insurance – for at least the next three years, the duration the “points” will remain “active” on his DMV record. This will cost him several thousands more – on top of what he had to pay the shyster to cut the “deal” with the Blue Ridge Soviet. Also – and I tell you this as inside baseball – several car companies will not send out press cars for evaluation to journalists who’ve been convicted of “reckless” driving within the previous five years. Hopefully, George’s bosses at Jalopnik will be understanding.

George wrote:

“On Friday, July 25, my wife dropped me off at the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail in Front Royal. I was escorted inside by a guard, handcuffed, booked, and had my mugshot taken. I was given a set of orange and white striped jail scrubs and a plastic mat and ushered into a big room with two stories of cells on either side. This would be home for the weekend…”

For speeding.[amazon asin=0990463109&template=*lrc ad (right)]

No person was actually harmed or even alleged to have been threatened with harm. George is probably an above-average driver; GM is pretty careful about to whom it hands out keys to ZL1s. The key point, at any rate, is that the state’s entirely bored revenue collector (read the article here to get the flavor of this routine “bust”) didn’t even imply that George was actually driving recklessly in fact – as opposed to statutorily.  He was not taken to jail – at the time of the “bust” – just issued his summons to appear in court later. It stands to reason that if the cop actually considered George’s 93 on a rural stretch of Route 211 (I know this road; it’s a broad four lane, two in each direction, separated by a median strip and very lightly travelled; 55 is preposterous,everyone’s doing 60-70 so George’s 93 – while faster than the proverbial flow – was not breaking the sound barrier) he would have arrested him on the spot and taken him to the clink right then.

Do cops give sexual batterers, drunk drivers, people who point loaded guns at otherstickets  . . . and (sign here, please) send them on their way?

Under VA law, those charged with “reckless” driving like George are in the same legal category. Yet George – and his supercharged, 600-plus-horsepower ZL1 press car – were turned loose.

Clearly, the cop was either grossly negligent – how else would you describe someone whose job is (allegedly) to “protect” the public who knowingly allowed a reckless driver to continue driving?  Or he’s nothing more than an Americanized KGB man, cynically – routinely – screwing with people over “crimes” he knows are trumped-up bullshit.

The whole thing is farce – but a not-funny one.

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