The ATLAS team returned from a big promotional event in Miami on Tuesday and all I can say is – we had a blast. We drove down and tracked the legal changes along the way as we crossed through 5 different states. The drive down there actually didn’t take as long as one might expect. 15 hours from DC area to Miami, about a 1,050 mile drive. We departed from the DC area around 4pm on Thursday and arrived at the hotel at 7am on Friday. Those high-speed areas of 95 South were a lifesaver and we monitored ourselves the whole time with the ATLAS app to make sure we weren’t breaking any laws.
A big one was speeding (which, let’s face it, everyone goes a little heavy on the pedal sometimes) but we were able to monitor which states were the worst for speeding fines and to what extent they measure and punish reckless driving, especially. We live-posted updates from the app to our social media pages and we were surprised to see the huge difference in punishment in just the first three states. Virginia’s fine for reckless driving is $2,500, North Carolina drops to $1,000, and South Carolina drops even further to $200. So plan accordingly if making a similar trip in your area, the consequences can be staggering.
Marijuana was another one we didn’t expect to change so much. Virginia and North Carolina both have simple possession amounts of up to ½ ounce. South Carolina and Georgia, however, go up to a whole ounce. Then Florida drops down to the odd amount of 20 grams. Obviously any amount of marijuana in those states is illegal but the kicker is when you realize that on a drive between four states you have the potential to get a felony at 3 different amounts, which can be confusing in a situation in which confusion can lead to jail time.
Gun laws were also relatively varied during the drive. For instance, Virginia does not require a driver to inform an officer of concealed weapons in the vehicle, but North Carolina does. Then South Carolina and Georgia do not, and finally Florida does. So, if you’re from a state where you are not required to (like us in Virginia) you have two chances along the way to get felony concealed weapons charges. Another crazy difference we noticed was the way in which North and South Carolina treat possession of a gun with marijuana. North Carolina adds a mandatory year to any jail sentence for the combo but South Carolina has no additional jail time or fines for it. That is a HUGE deal to any potential offenders.
So these are just a few of the more noticeable differences in laws between the states we went through. This is by no means an exhaustive list, though, so make sure to check out the ATLAS app if you’re planning a similar trip in your area. The difference between knowing ahead of time and not could be life-changing.