FORT LEE, Va. (May 3, 2021) – The message is loud and clear: get caught 10 mph above a post speed limit on Fort Lee and get your driving privileges suspended here for one year.
Despite this, law enforcement personnel issued 130 speeding tickets over the course of a 26-day period in April at an installation with only 119 miles of paved roads.
Last June, the regulating policy for driving on the post (Army Regulation 190-5) was updated. This new update allowed the garrison commander to revoke patrons’ on-post driving privileges if they are found guilty of traveling at least 10 mph above the posted speed limit.
“You have two choices: pay it, or go to court,” said Sgt. Maj. Chad Laws, Directorate of Emergency Services sergeant major. “If you go to court and you're found not guilty, the citation doesn't count; we have to wait for the judge to basically say yep, you're guilty of this, and then we can pursue it and suspended the driver's privileges.”
The suspension lasts one year and is only effective on the installation. Drivers are still allowed to operate their vehicles outside of Fort Lee. The suspension also prevents patrons from operating government-owned vehicles without a commander’s request.
“Right now, some of the drivers who have had their on-post privileges revoked are having to park at the Food Lion and walk to work,” said Laws.
Patrons with revoked driving privileges who attempt to drive on the installation are issued an additional citation.
“When your license is suspended, it gets put into the system. So, if you try entering the gate and they scan your ID, it’s going to say license suspended and you’re going to get another charge for failure to obey a lawful order,” said Laws.
When citations are issued on Fort Lee, it can also add points to a patron’s driving record. These points are reported to the state and also impact driving privileges outside of the installation.
Laws noted the increase in citations may be attributed to changing speed limits around the installation.
“When a speed limit is going to change, we'll get ahead of it by putting up the digital signs saying what speed limits are going to change, just so people are aware,” he said. “Then, in the first 30 days after it changes, we will not write you a ticket that will cause you to pay money. We will stop you, warn you by letting you know what changed and let you go.”
These 30 day grace periods have expired though, so drivers on post should be aware of the new speed limits by now, added Laws.
Speeding in installation residential areas are especially concerning and is something patrols are paying close attention to, Laws further noted.
“Everywhere in housing is 15 mph, but we recently did a speed survey of Adams Chase at the roundabout and found 546 vehicles passed it in a four day time period with the average speed being 26 mph,” said Laws.
Speed surveys are useful tools because it tells officers the busiest traffic times and average speeds, said Laws. Officers then plan their patrols accordingly.
“As it warms up, more and more kids are outside playing, and we don't want an accident where somebody gets hurt. That's why we're trying to get after it before it happens.”
Laws concluded by saying safety is their priority and reminded drivers to be cognizant of their speed.
“Specifically in the housing areas, kids run in and out of there, and if you're doing much faster than the posted speed limit, you don't have time to react,” he said. “It's only a matter of time before a kid gets hurt; you'll never forgive yourself for doing that. So, in housing areas, just keep the speed down … or run the risk of walking for a year.”