New speed limits not in effect yet

August 26, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The speed limit may have gone up to 70 mph on some portions of West Virginia's interstates Monday, but until the signs are changed by the Division of Highways the state police want motorists to keep it at 65 mph.

"Until the signs go up, it's still 65," said Sgt. Rob Blair of the state police barracks in Martinsburg. He said all of Interstate 81 through Berkeley County will go up to 70 mph, but the timetable for changing the signs is up to the Division of Highways.

"We'll enforce it the same way we enforce 65, either a citation or a warning, depending on road conditions and traffic," according to Blair. He doesn't envision any kind of a grace period once the speed limit signs change, however.


"They'll be out there for the public to see. There shouldn't be any question about the speed limit," he said Monday.

As for safety, Blair said he doesn't expect a big impact. He warned, though, "Just because it went up to 70 doesn't mean they can go 80."

Motorists can actually drive up to 80 mph without having any points added to their license if a trooper pulls them over, according to former Del. Brian Gallagher, D-Monongalia. The bill allows for a $5 speeding ticket up to 80 mph, although ticketed motorists face court costs that typically run $70 to $80, he said.

West Virginia State Police Maj. W.C. McBee said troopers will use their discretion when issuing citations. McBee said patrols will increase on state highways, but not because of the new limit

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Plans for beefing up patrols were approved before the 70 mph limit was approved, he said.

"The new limits are reflecting what people are already driving," Division of Highways traffic engineer Barry Warhoftig said.

According to Warhoftig, motorists that don't stay in the flow of traffic "will stick out like a sore thumb to law enforcement officials."

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