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Erica Mokun

How Fast Must You Go to Draw a Speeding Ticket?

 

By Erica Mokun and Catalina Currier, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — “Nine you’re fine, ten you’re mine.”

A Reddit user recently quoted that saying in an online discussion about speeding in Virginia. The conventional wisdom is that you probably won’t get ticketed unless you’re going at least 10 mph over the speed limit.

Is that true? Pretty much, according to an analysis of speeding tickets processed in General District Courts across Virginia last year.

Almost 98% of the tickets involved going 10 or more miles an hour over the limit. Even where the posted limit was 35 mph or less, 97% of the speeding tickets were issued to people accused of exceeding the limit by at least 10 mph. The average speeder was going 17 mph over the limit.

Now, we’re not suggesting you should have a lead foot while driving. As the Reddit user noted, “Technically anything over the limit is illegal.” But statistically, if you’re speeding only by single digits, you’re unlikely to draw a ticket, the data indicate.

Of the approximately 590,000 speeding cases handled by General District Courts in 2018:

  •  About 13,750 involved going less than 10 mph over the limit. Forty of those cases involved going less than 5 mph over the limit.
  •  About 174,000 involved going 10-14 mph over the limit.
  •  About 283,000 involved going 15-19 mph over the limit.
  •  More than 118,000 involved going 20 or more miles per hour over the limit — which is one definition of reckless driving in Virginia.

The cases include 98,000 drivers who were going more than 80 mph, another definition of reckless driving that is grounds for being charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Going 80 mph would be slow by the standards of some Virginia drivers. Seventeen defendants in General District Court were accused of going at least 130 mph — and 2,135 were charged with going 100-129 mph.

Driving like that can be expensive: More than 1,050 defendants were fined at least $1,000 — including about 150 who had to pay $2,500 or more. The average fine, including court costs, was about $190.

For safety and financial reasons, motorists should slow down, said Karen Rice, who has operated a driving school in Richmond for 19 years.

Her business, called The Driving School Inc., offers eight-hour driver improvement classes for court, DMV and voluntary purposes. Rice said registration typically spikes in December.

“After the holidays, business will be booming because of all the tickets written in this season, as well as people procrastinating because of the holidays,” Rice said.

Rice explained why she thinks many drivers go too fast: “I feel the majority of people speed because they are running late and just are not paying attention.”

Besides driving school, people accused of reckless driving may need a lawyer to help them in court. A conviction can have a significant impact on a person’s driving record and car insurance, said Will Smith, an attorney at the Bowen Ten Cardani law firm.

He noted that reckless driving, as a Class 1 misdemeanor, is a criminal offense. When drivers understand that, “they realize that that is something that they don’t want on their record,” Smith said.

About the data used in this report

For this report, we downloaded data on all criminal cases filed in 2018 in General District Courts throughout Virginia. The data had been scraped from the state’s court system by Ben Schoenfeld, a software engineer in Hampton Roads, and posted on an open website.

The entire data set included more than 2 million records. From this file, we extracted and analyzed the approximately 590,000 cases involving speeding. We examined how fast the driver was going, the speed limit, the fine imposed and other aspects of the cases.

We did the analysis — which involved sorting, filtering and summarizing the speeding data — with Microsoft Access and Excel.

Baby Names Reflect Demographic Shifts

 

By Erica Mokun, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Bye-bye, Betty. You were one of the most popular names for girls in Virginia when Betty Grable ruled the silver screen in the 1930s. But last year, you didn’t even register a “boop” on the Social Security Administration’s list of common baby names in the commonwealth.

Mateo, on the other hand, has seen a meteoric rise. First appearing on the SSA’s list 20 years ago, it was the 46th most popular name for boys born in Virginia in 2018 — ahead of Robert, Jonathan and Adam.

Mateo, the Spanish form of Matthew, has emerged in Virginia as the state’s Latino population has grown. Last year, 179 boys born in the state were named Mateo.

The most common names for male babies in Virginia last year were William, Liam and Noah. The most common names for girls were Ava, Olivia and Emma. The SSA’s data, based on applications for Social Security cards, shows how names can rise and fall in popularity based on cultural and demographic trends.

“We see many more Spanish names rising through the charts in the U.S. as the Spanish-speaking population grows and people become more comfortable with diversity and interested in using names from their own culture,” said Pamela Redmond, an expert on the subject.

Redmond is co-founder and CEO of Nameberry, which describes itself as the internet’s “largest and most complete resource devoted to baby names.”

Baby names reflect what is fashionable as well as society’s appreciation for diversity.

“Baby names are completely barometers of who we are and what we like in a culture, ranging from our ethnic identity to our feelings about education and class to what we are watching on TV,” Redmond said.

The Social Security Administration annually tracks the names given to boys and girls in each state and has posted online data going back to 1910.

Some names stand the test of time. For boys, for example, James has been a top-10 name every year in Virginia; it was No. 4 in 2018.

Other names can fall out of favor as the decades pass. For instance, Shirley was the most common name for girls born in Virginia in 1936. But last year, it was given to fewer than five babies in the state — the threshold for being included in the SSA’s database.

Some names can suddenly surface and quickly soar in popularity. That is what happened with Liam. It first appeared on the SSA’s list for Virginia in 1985, ranking No. 138 with just five births. But by 2012, Liam was the third most common name for boys born in the commonwealth — and it took first place in 2017.

The data also shows what Virginia has in common with other states. Last year, for example, Ava was the No. 1 girls’ name in 10 other states, from Mississippi to Ohio, as well as in Washington, D.C.

According to the SSA database, parents today are drawing from a wider range of names than Virginians had in the past.

In 1910, parents having a girl chose from fewer than 300 names. By the 1950s, the SSA’s annual list had about 600 girls’ names. And in recent years, the number of girls’ names has hovered around 1,400.

For boys, the choices have been more limited: fewer than 200 different names in 1910, about 500 in the 1950s and fewer than 1,200 today.

Richmond resident Maya Slater, who is expecting her first child, has turned to resources like the SSA and Nameberry to find names that will stand out.

“I chose the name Raelynn for my child because I really wanted a unique name that I did not want all my friends to have,” Slater said. “So I downloaded an app, did some research on the name and went with it.”

Raelynn is relatively uncommon in Virginia. Last year, 88 girls born in the state received that name — so it ranked No. 72.

Redmond, who has written “Beyond Jennifer & Jason” and other books on the subject, noted that names can fall out of favor and then make a comeback. So don’t rule Betty out, she said.

“It’s getting just vintage enough to make a comeback, but we may not see it till the next generation,” Redmond said. “Names usually take four generations or 100 years to come back.”

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