This is one of many hypothetical questions I get from Max. He’s excellent at embellishing facts to make them a bit ridiculous, if not impossible. But that’s what makes them fun to think about and answer. Assuming you could drive a car 400mph down a city street, what are the possible penalties for driving it in a 30mph speed zone?
First, it is possible to drive a car more than 400mph. Or 470mph, to be exact. While absolute land-speed records (which involve jet-powered cars) are slightly north of 700mph, Don Vesco holds the “wheel-driven land speed record” of 470.444mph. Vesco set the record in 2001 while cruising along Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats in his Vesco Turbinator.
So, assuming that I hop into one of these Vesco Turbinators for a quick jaunt down Lyndale Avenue in South Minneapolis, what’s the penalty for my 400mph commute? In other words, for the roughly six mile journey downtown to the Target Center, what’s the penalty I could pay for getting there in a Turbinator in less than 60 seconds?
Here’s what I came up with, at least under Minnesota law. And, as we almost always do, let’s assume I get caught, at least this time.
Those are the crimes. Max, though, asked about the penalty for driving down the road at 400mph—370mph over the Minneapolis city speed limit. If caught and convicted of speeding, it would mean a fine of at least $212, plus whatever surcharges the court tacks on these days, plus more if I happened to pass through a designated work or school zone. And if convicted of reckless driving, it could mean up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. Finally, for “extreme speed”—speed in excess of 100mph in Minnesota—I’d get my license revoked for at least six months. Worth it to go 400mph down a city street. Probably in the mind of a 13-year-old.
As an aside, the closest anyone has come to such extreme speeding was a Minnesota motorcyclist allegedly clocked at 205mph on a rural road with a posted speed limit of 65mph. Though folks doubted that his Honda RC51 motorcycle could go that fast, the cyclist ultimately pled guilty to speeding and for failing to possess a valid motorcycle license. He avoided a careless driving conviction, paid a fine, and did 200 hours of community service.