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Open Roads Do Not Mean You Can Speed

Many states, including Virginia, have enacted “stay-at-home” orders by their respective state governors in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. In Virginia, Governor Northam’s order is currently set to expire on June 10, 2020. Many businesses have been closed unless you are deemed an essential business. Park closures and gatherings of more than 10 individuals are included in this three page order.

People have been advised to stay at home unless you have essential business to attend to, including but not limited to hospital visits, grocery shopping, and outdoor exercise. I have heard many friends have only gone out for grocery runs in their effort to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. As you can imagine, the roads are empty yet, contrary to what some people may have heard, police and state troopers are still out there enforcing traffic laws. You may not see them, but they’re there.

Thus, just because the roads are empty, this is not an invitation to put the pedal to the metal and see how fast you can go on the highways. On most highways around the DC metropolitan area, the speed limit is 55 mph, unless otherwise posted in toll roads, EZ pass hot lanes, or more rural areas outside of the beltway. I agree with you that before COVID-19, people were not traveling around 55 mph and you’d have to go 65+ mph to keep up with surrounding traffic. Any speed 20+ mph over the limit is defined as Reckless Driving in Virginia which is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If found guilty, you will be a convicted criminal. To learn more, visit here.

Courts typically do not put someone in jail for speeds under 90 mph, although many people have faced time behind bars for doing less than 90 mph if their speed is coupled with additional bad driving behavior and/or their driving records show consistent convictions for speeding. However, according to local officials and news reports, more and more people are getting caught for speeding at ridiculously high speeds. We’re talking triple digits and according to this article, someone was caught going 132 mph on I-95 in Fairfax County during this stay-at-home order. At that speed, metal is very pliable and if you crash, it is unlikely you will survive.

While the stay-at-home order is aimed at deterring the spread of the coronavirus, it is not an invitation to speed on the empty roads even if you’re going to the store to buy necessities. You may never return and if you survive a crash, you and your family can risk infection by having to stay in a hospital and receive follow-up treatment. If you’re pulled over for driving at excessive speeds during this pandemic, you’re likely to receive harsher punishment compared to that of normal times. Please don’t put yourself unnecessarily in harm’s way. Stay safe out there! 

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