Maybe I should elaborate.
These are strictly my personal opinions. I present them as such, and I accept full responsibility for them as such:
Fines for traffic law violations are meant to deter violations of those laws. As a punishment for the offender, they are meant to deter a repeat offense. For the non-offender, they are meant to deter the first offense. If people are still violating the laws, the fines (and other punishment (think: Paris Hilton's 23 days in the slammer for repeated DUIs on a suspended license)) are not high enough.
On the other hand, there will always be those who violate the law, no matter what the penalty is. In Medieval England, pickpockets were hanged. Hangings were great public events, and the whole town would turn out to watch them. Invariably, there would be pickpockets working the crowd.
If we, as a society, don't like the laws, we should work to change them. In the U.S., each and every one of us can participate in this process.
I frequently drive a few miles over the speed limit -- mostly to keep up with other traffic and to avoid getting run over. I have been driving for over a quarter of a century, and have *never* been stopped for speeding. On the other hand, if I thought the probability of being stopped was pretty good, and if the penalties were unpalatably high, I would be driving at or below the speed limit all the time. I have been in countries where this is the case. Honestly, I don't think they are any safer for it. They do seem to be more stressed out.
I believe it is immoral for a government at any level, from state to small town, to use traffic fines as a source of revenue. Especially if they rely
on fines. I seem to recall reading at some point back that courts had declared it illegal or unconstitutional or something for any government to get more than 50(?) percent of its revenue from traffic fines.
I find it especially immoral for a county or town to deliberately lower the speed limit on a stretch of road and aggressively enforce the speed limit there for the purpose of generating revenue. There are several spots around here where that is the case. There is one road, a main arterial from the freeway into the business district where the street passes through three different incorporated cities. In two of them, the limit is 35 and 30. Through the one in the middle, the speed limit drops down to 25. One of the town's two cop cars is usually sitting behind a bush just beyond the speed limit sign. (Recently, the town has invested in a speed camera system, and I've heard that it "paid for itself" within a couple of weeks.)
These are my views. Play by the book... or change the book.
By the way, Brian, it kinda sounds like what you suggested is already happening, hence this heads-up about Virginia.
My impression was that when we raised the speed limit to 70 outside of urban areas in Washington, we just raised the speed limit to the speed most people were already driving.
And what we should be cracking down on are not people who drive fast, but people who drive dangerously. Fast is just a symptom of that.