In my state (Virginia) you can be cited for “reckless” driving for exceeding any speed limit by more than 20 MPH. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t – because so many speed limits are preposterously low to begin with. I’ll give you an example: I-581 near Roanoke is (as the “I” plainly concedes) an Interstate highway. It is three lanes each direction and limited access (i.e., no traffic lights – just on and off ramps). Yet it is posted an absolutely ridiculous 55 MPH. Which means, driving a mere 76 MPH is sufficient to draw a “reckless” charge.
Meanwhile, 70 is perfectly legal on adjacent I-81 (which, incidentally, is only two lanes each direction). The same 76 MPH on that road would be – at most – a minor ticket.
However, Virginia has another nasty surprise in store for the unwary: Anything more than 80 on any road, anywhere in the commonwealth is also statutory “reckless” driving.
79 MPH – just a ticket.
This is no ordinary mail-in-the-fine-and-be-done-with-it ticket, either.
The cop can, at his discretion, arrest you on the spot and cart you off to the clink (and have your vehicle towed to an impound lot at your expense).
Usually, that does not happen – probably because the cops themselves know these “reckless” tickets are grotesque perversions of language. However, what will happen is you’ll be issued a piece of paper ordering you to appear at court (not optional) on such-and-such a date, where – if convicted – you’ll be slapped with six DMV demerit points (vs. the usual speeding ticket’s three or four) a huge fine (several hundred bucks, at least) a likely suspension of your “privilege” to drive – and the absolute certainty that your government-mandated insurance premiums will double for the next several years at least. Obviously, hiring a lawyer to game the system is essential.
But either way, you will pay.
Best case, you’ll avoid the conviction – but there’s no avoiding the lawyer’s fee. $700-$1,000 or so is the going rate. Worst case, you’ll be convicted. Which means in addition to the lawyer’s fee – which you’ll pay regardless - you’ll also pay the fines levied by the court, as well as the jacked-up insurance rates for years to come.
The total cost if convicted of “reckless” driving can easily amount to thousands of dollars.
All for the Great Crime of driving 76 on an Interstate highway where everyone is doing about the same thing – and nothing unsafe (much less ”reckless”) about it. Ditto 66 in an under-posted 45 zone – or 82 in a 70 – and so on.
Which brings me to the following. It is a natural – a normal – thing for a prey animal to flee from a predator. No one expects an antelope to just freeze in place and await the lion. Most people, if they saw such a thing, would consider it odd. What is wrong with the antelope? Doesn’t he see the lion?
It’s interesting that many of these same people nonetheless expect two-legged prey to stand still for two-legged predators. It is a remarkable thing. A manifestation of cognitive dissonance – what I like to call Cloverism (see here for more about that).
Of course, it will be argued that the two-legged predators in question (cops) are not going to kill you. It is merely implied (though of course, sometimes they actually do kill their prey). All that cop’s going to do, these people will say, is hand you a ticket. Instead of all your flesh (as per the antelope and the lion) the two-legged predator merely wants a pound or two.
But, the balance is tipping.
When the lion-cop just takes a small bite, it is bearable. Which makes it worth not running. But what happens when the antelope-driver knows that to not run (to “pull over”) entails the certainty of a judicial mauling – as in the case of Virginia’s “reckless” driving statute?
There is every incentive to run.
I wonder whether this has occurred to the lions (er, cops). They had a pretty sweet racket set up. It operated on the principle of just a little – but not too much. Everyone – even lions – does a cost-benefit analysis. It need not be a conscious process. Lions – the actual animals – will instinctively refrain from pushing their luck. They will not, for instance, attack the strongest-looking animal in a herd. And nature herself always strikes a balance between predators and prey. Not enough lions – and the antelopes run amok. Too many lions – and in short order, there aren’t enough antelopes left for them to eat – and the lions starve.
On the roads, the antelope are becoming restless. The resentment – the outright hate – is simmering. It may boil over. Back in the days when we had what amounted to an American version of the banana republic mordita – the simple bribe, a small amount of money changing hands and then on your way – it was worth it to play along. You pulled over, you played your role in the sick little farce of pretending you did something objectionable (as opposed to merely illegal) and that your were sorry. You accepted the unctuous lecture, took your “receipt” – and paid the damn fine.
As the police state congeals – as what the late great Sam Francis tagged anarcho-tyranny (i.e., the increasingly brutal treatment of ordinary people over trivialities concurrent with run-amok real criminality which the powers-that-be refuse to do anything meaningful about) becomes the defining characteristic of our rapidly receding republic – it occurs to the “antelope” that attempting to avoid the “lions” is a risk worth taking, in view of the certain fate that awaits those who do not make the attempt.
Soon, it may develop that the two-legged antelope do something else. Something the real antelope never do.
They may stand their ground. And turn and fight.
The lions have given them no alternative.
Throw it in the Woods?