126 MPH Jaunt Leads to Jail: Man Gets 12 Days for Sprint on GW Parkway
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 12, 2006; B01
A Georgetown University law student who was trying to impress his
girlfriend admitted yesterday that he cranked up his new Infiniti to
126 mph on the George Washington Memorial Parkway -- among the highest
speeds ever clocked on the stretch of federal road.
Drew Hoffman, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of reckless endangerment,
a misdemeanor, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, and for this he
will spend 12 days in jail and a year on probation. His attorney, Jim
Clark, said Hoffman "had a new car for the first time in his life, and
a great stretch of road at 4 a.m., with no one on it. . . . To say that
he is remorseful is a gross understatement."
In a brief interview afterward, Hoffman, an Oklahoma native who lives
in the District, said his early morning cruise was "a complete lack of
judgment. There is no other explanation."
Sgt. Scott Fear, a U.S. Park Police spokesman, said Hoffman was stopped
at 3:55 a.m. on March 12 traveling south on the parkway at Turkey Run
Park. He said Hoffman quickly pulled onto a ramp but wound up trapped
because the ramp led to CIA headquarters.
"It appeared he was trying to lose the officer real quick," Fear said.
"The officer just kind of smiled, knew he couldn't go anywhere and
pulled up and got him." Hoffman was arrested and taken to a Park Police
station before being released. His girlfriend, who had been a
passenger, drove the silver 2006 Infiniti G35 back to the police
Prosecutors said in court that they could not recall anyone going
faster than 126 mph on the parkway, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry R.
Poretz told Hoffman: "In 15 years on the bench, having adjudicated
literally thousands and thousands of speeding cases, this is the
highest that I've ever had."
Law enforcement officials said later that two motorcycles were clocked
last year going 160 mph on the parkway but were never caught. A third
motorcyclist going 110 was charged and sentenced to 15 days in jail.
While speeds of more than 100 mph on the parkway are exceedingly rare,
officials said they are detecting increasing speeds on highways across
the Washington area. That echoes national trends, which have shown
higher rates of speed since Congress repealed the national maximum
speed limit of 55 in 1995. Since then, 31 states have raised their
speed limits to 70 mph or higher, according to the Arlington-based
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "I think it's more acceptable
now to go fast because speed limits are up, we don't see them being
enforced as aggressively on highways and we see cars being advertised
as having 400 horsepower," said Adrian Lund, the institute's president.
"This is sending a message to people who are interested in speeding
that maybe it's okay."
Law enforcement officials, hoping to send a message to the public to
slow down, were quick to condemn Hoffman for exceeding the 50 mph speed
limit by more than 75 mph. "His actions were dumb and dangerous," said
Chuck Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria. "People die on our
roads all the time. We certainly don't need folks hitting 126 mph just
to see what their cars can do."
Fear said Hoffman's speed was particularly excessive on the parkway,
which winds along the Potomac River with speed limits that range from
25 to 50 mph. "It's a scenic parkway. It wasn't designed to be a
superhighway," he said.
Hoffman, wearing a gray business suit with a blue tie, stood before
Poretz with his head bowed yesterday and said: "I know I made a
mistake. I hope you can see based on my past record that it won't
The judge fined him $1,200 and said he could not drive a car for the
first 60 days of his probation and only on a restricted basis after
that. The 12 days in jail could be served on weekends.
"This was an absolute lack of judgment," Poretz said. "You could have
killed yourself. You could have killed the other person in the car. You
could have killed someone else."
Hoffman wound up in federal court because the 23.5 mile stretch of
parkway from Mount Vernon to McLean -- except the part in the city of
Alexandria -- is federal land. Fear said Park Police wrote more than
7,000 citations on the parkway last year and that the numbers are
rising this year.
The conviction should not affect Hoffman's eligibility to be a lawyer.
Asked if he learned anything that would help his legal career, Hoffman
said it would enable him to sympathize with clients "who demonstrate
that this is out of character."