Written by Gregory Monte.
Moving Beyond Pennsylvania
I recently started expanding my traffic research beyond Pennsylvania in order to find ways of helping citizens in other states beat their unfair tickets. I posted my first major non-PA article which focused on New York State a couple of days ago. In that post, I discussed several court decisions which I thought were potentially useful for challenging stop sign and speeding tickets.
Below is a great quote from one of those cases which suggests that the State (the “People”) has to actually prove that the sign you violated really exists or else the charge will be dismissed – People v. GBADEBO, 2016 NY Slip Op 50200:
“However, in a case of failing to obey a traffic control device, such as the one before us, even if the traffic control device is a sign setting forth a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour, the People must establish that defendant had notice of the sign, generally, by testimony as to the location, description, and observability of the sign alleged to have been disobeyed …”
If you want to read more about this, check out my post: Beating a Traffic Ticket in New York – Using the law to defeat the law.
On to Virginia – Micromanaging Driver Behavior?
Today I happened to be glancing through the Virginia Motor Vehicle statues. I came across two “interesting” laws which illustrate perfectly a government’s attempt to micromanage driver behavior. I am sure everyone already knows that Virginia is the only state that doesn’t allow radar detectors (§ 46.2-1079. Radar detectors; demerit points not to be awarded), but the statutes I discovered are much more obscure.
I can kind of see why a legislature might want to outlaw radar detectors, but the two other laws that I highlight in this post are just downright silly. Even if you don’t live in this state, you will probably appreciate my points – you may even get a chuckle out of them. I actually think that I may have violated both of them in my drive back from Florida with my family several years ago.
Silly Law #1 – No Coasting Allowed
“The driver of any motor vehicle traveling on a downgrade on any highway shall not coast with the gears of the vehicle in neutral.”
Most drivers probably have nothing to worry about as far as this particular statute is concerned because they put the car in drive and … just drive.
But if you own a car with manual transmission, it is quite possible that you use the neutral gear on occasion. My previous car was a 2012 Honda Civic 5-speed. I not only used neutral when stopped in traffic or at a red light (so I didn’t have to depress the clutch), I also used it to coast downhill. I just didn’t see the need to keep the gears engaged on a hill because it actually slowed the car down. So I would disengage and coast.
That would make me a criminal in Virginia, I guess.
I could probably look up the reasoning behind this silly law, but am not going to waste the time and effort. I can only say from personal experience that there is no possible reason for it – at least not that I can fathom. I will leave it at that.
Silly Law #2 – No Driving 13+ Hours Allowed
“No person shall drive any motor vehicle on the highways of the Commonwealth for more than thirteen hours in any period of twenty-four hours or for a period which, when added to the time such person may have driven in any other state, would make an aggregate of more than thirteen hours in any twenty-four-hour period.”
Obviously you don’t want drivers falling asleep at the wheel, but read this law closely and you will see how silly it could potentially be.
For example, let’s say I have to drive back from Tampa, Florida to my house in Pennsylvania. Because it is such a long trip, I decide I don’t want to drive nonstop. Let’s assume that I also want to get some sightseeing in along the way, so I decide to check out Virginia (well known for its Revolutionary/Civil War past).
I leave Tampa at 10:00 AM and travel north, arriving in Roanoke, VA somewhere around 10:00 PM. After checking in to a local hotel, I sleep until 6:00 AM the next morning and am out on the road by 7:00. It’s a beautiful day and I sure am looking forward to those sites in Richmond …
But guess what?
YOU BETTER ARREST ME BEFORE I GET THERE BECAUSE BY 8:01 I AM OVER THE 13 HOUR VIRGINIA DRIVING LIMIT.
Unless I am reading this law incorrectly, I have earned myself a ticket for my “excessive” driving behavior.
Did I use the word “silly” to describe these two laws? How about fucking stupid.
Enforcement of “Silly” Laws – Police State?
If you follow my Facebook page Stop Sign Ticket Defense, you will occasionally see comments from individuals who I term “Traffic Ticket Nazis/Hypocrites.” These are people who get indignant when I suggest that people should challenge their tickets in court rather than accept them like good little citizen/sheep. They bristle at my suggestion that, maybe, just maybe, the cops are issuing citations, not out of a sense of traffic safety but simply to raise “revenue.”
I wonder how the Traffic Ticket Nazis/Hypocrites would respond to my criticism of these two Virginia laws. Would they acknowledge that there is no possibly way that a police officer could possibly prove that either of them were violated?
Or would these individuals suggest, perhaps, that Virginia become a police state in order to monitor every single driver every minute of the day in order to fully enforce the motor vehicle code. A law is a law, right?
Given some of their Facebook comments, I wouldn’t put it past them. Here is a nice selection for your entertainment:
“Walter Schwartz If you get a ticket you probably deserve it pay it and don’t drive like an idiot.”
“Bill Wereb Why don’t you just stop? Diptard”
Jerry Finnegan“Traffic tickets are issued because people violate the rules of the road. The rules of the road are set to protect the users of public roads.”
DennisWilma Wyatt Dunham“You do the crime you do the time!”
Final Note – California Statute on Driving Time
California has a similar law to Virginia’s about allowable driving time, however, it only seems to apply to commercial drivers. Section 21702 of the CA Vehicle code reads, in part:
“… no driver shall drive for more than 10 hours in any 24-hour period unless eight consecutive hours off duty have elapsed.”