Speed Limit Laws in Virginia

Virginia prosecutes reckless driving extremely harshly. As it is also a criminal charge, this could seriously impact a person’s current and future employment, schooling opportunities, and even housing. If you were caught driving recklessly on a Virginia roadway, contacting an experienced reckless driving attorney in Virginia should be your next step. They will be able to construct the appropriate defense for your case.

Speed Limits in Virginia

Virginia, like the majority of states, is an absolute speed limit state. Only a small handful of states follow the presumed limit and every single state has the basic speed limit. An absolute speed limit just means that it’s not legal to drive at any speed over the posted speed limit. In some states, it’s presumed that the posted speed limit is the safest top speed but a driver cited for speeding has the opportunity in court to prove otherwise. Somebody can be charged with driving over the speed limit but they can explain that, at that time, it was safe for them to do so and the case could be dropped.

The basic speed limit law states that you must never drive faster than is safe for present conditions, regardless of what the posted speed limit is. It’s similar to presumed speed limits but it works in the opposite direction. It takes into account additional conditions that may affect how safe the speed limit is, like hazardous weather. In this situation, it would be unlawful for someone to drive at the posted speed limit if there were conditions present that made it unsafe to do so at that time.

Defenses for Exceeding the Speed Limit

There are no defenses for speeding. However, an experienced attorney can help you establish mitigating evidence. Perhaps the strongest mitigating evidence is evidence that you were speeding due to an emergency situation. But for an emergency situation, the defense is going to have to prove this with actual evidence.

Sometimes, there’s mitigating evidence available for exceeding the speed limit such as a speedometer that was not properly calibrated. This demonstrates that the speed was unintentional and that the incident could have happened to anybody who is an otherwise good driver and was behaving in a manner that they believed was safe and lawful.

It is important to remember that in Virginia, you are required to abide by the posted speed limit no matter what it is. Therefore, any number of miles per hour over the speed limit is going to be a ticketable offense.

Sometimes, a clean record can show that exceeding the speed limit in this particular situation was just a one-time thing, which a lot of times is enough for the judge to be persuaded to dismiss the charge.

Emergency Situations

Mitigating circumstances include if there was an emergency situation or extraordinary circumstances. But for situations like this, the defense is going to have to prove that this was the reason for the speed. Other mitigating factors can include: having a clean driving record, attending traffic school, and having a faulty speedometer.

If No Speed Limit is Posted

If there’s no sign, there are certain speed limits that each type of road defaults to automatically. For most business and residential areas, the speed is 25 miles per hour. On secondary roads, which are routes beginning with #600 and above, the limits are 45 miles per hour for trucks and 55 miles per hour for other vehicles. For unpaved roads, the limit is 35 miles per hour.

Going with the Flow of Traffic as a Defense

Going with the speed of traffic is not a speeding defense. The only time that this would possibly work would be in a situation where there was an emergency and the defendant would have to prove that this was the reason that they were driving in such a manner. However, even then, it’s unlikely that an emergency situation would cause somebody to go with the flow of traffic.

The logic that judges use when someone argues that they were just going with the flow of traffic is that first off, just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t make it legal for you to do it, and second, it’s very unlikely that every single person on the road is breaking the law.

Highest Speed for Virginia Highways

The highest speed limit in Virginia highways is 70 miles per hour. The risk for speeding in highways are very serious because the maximum allowed speed is already very high. Someone going faster than the speed limit is not only at risk of a speeding ticket or a Virginia reckless driving ticket, but they’re also putting in danger all of the other drivers on the road. 

Reaction times need to be faster at higher speeds and accidents tend to be more severe at higher velocities as well. Collisions are much more likely to result in injury or even death.