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Writer's Block: Jury Duty - Dan the Serene
August 10th, 2009
07:10 am

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Writer's Block: Jury Duty
Have you ever served on a jury? If yes, then what was the case and what was the verdict?

I have been called to jury duty one time. I was selected and sat on a reckless driving case involving a college kid driving sober at speeds over 120 MPH on the Fairfax County Parkway, a busy local road with a maximum speed limit of 50 MPH and the highest death toll of any road in the county.

After we found him guilty, we were provided a copy of his driving record and asked to recommend sentencing. He had several pages of traffic offenses, mostly speeding 15-19 over. this generally means that the actual speed was at least 20 over but the officer didn't want to write a ticket that would automatically require a court appearance. The offender had a ticket less than a week before our case, and another the day after.

As Reckless Driving is a class two misdeamenor in Virginia, he was sentenced to the maximum $1000 fine and two weeks in jail. There were a couple little old ladies who wanted to give him the whole six months.

EDIT: So much for my memory of a case from six years ago. After asracer pointed out it was class 1 misdemeanor, I went back through my calendar.

He was clocked at 110 MPH and his sentence was $2500 and 45 days in jail. I believe his license had already been revoked on points from his other tickets by the time his Reckless Driving case came to trial. His driving record ran a couple pages.

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From:canuckgirl
Date:August 10th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
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Did he actually have to go to jail for 2 weeks? Could he serve it on weekends? That seems like a weird vacation (taking time off for work for this!).
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From:asracer
Date:August 10th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
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Actually yes. In Fairfax county the court imposes 1 day in jail at 90 MPH. Then you get another day for every mile per hour over 90. So he was technically looking at 30 days in jail per the court's normal procedures.

Most likely he will not be allowed to serve it on the weekends. Two weeks, however, is not really two weeks. Each day in the pokey counts as two. So he'll really only serve one actual week in jail.

As for being a weird reason to take a state-mandated vacation consider this. Most people have enough driving skill to drive from point A to point B under ideal conditions. This is provided that NOTHING goes wrong and the second that something goes wrong they crash.

At 120 MPH he was moving at 176 feet per second. Compare that to the posted speed limit on that road of 50 MPH / 73 FPS, and an average ambient traffic speed of 60 MPH / 88 FPS. Then consider the fact that F=mv2 So for every additional MPH he has now DRAMATICALLY increased the amount of energy his vehicle can exert on another body.

Now before I go on the racetrack my car is completely inspected. EVERY nut, bolt, screw, etc., that is attached to a critical component is checked with a torque wrench. We call the process "nut and bolt"ing. The brake fluid is completely bled out and replaced, the alignment is checked, the corner weights of the car are adjusted. Tire pressures are adjusted and checked before and after each session on track.

How many people out there driving their street cars can say they've checked their car like that? The entire process is more for safety than performance, yet people think it is OK to take a street car that has no rollcage, no fire suppression system, no fuel cell, no harnesses, no window nets, etc., and go 120 MPH on a public road where there are road hazards, people driving with their heads up their asses, making lane changes without signals, running red lights, failing to yield, etc. How is it in any way shape or form a good idea to go 120 MPH in conditions like that?

I say he got off easy with only 2-weeks in jail. The little old ladies should have given him the full deal.
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From:dantheserene
Date:August 10th, 2009 10:40 pm (UTC)
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Particularrly on the lower section of the Parkway, his event horizon would often be less than a second away.
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From:dantheserene
Date:August 10th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
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I wrote this from memory this morning, then looked it up a few minutes ago. The case was in 2003. We actually gave him $2500 and 45 days.
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From:asracer
Date:August 10th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Actually reckless driving in VA is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, $2,500 fine or both. License suspension for RD is limited to 6-months; as imposed by the court. DMV will likely impose another 6-month suspension. With any luck they'll just revoke him.
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From:dantheserene
Date:August 10th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
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I wrote this from memory this morning, then looked it up a few minutes ago. The case was in 2003. We actually gave him $2500 and 45 days.
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From:asracer
Date:August 10th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
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That's better! I wonder what he learned from the whole ordeal? I wonder if he is still driving like a jackass.
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From:dantheserene
Date:August 10th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
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Also, it was 110 MPH which is still insane for that section of road.
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