Reckless Driving Generally
Often times there are two circumstances that cause a person to be charged with violating this Virginia Reckless Driving law: (1) dangerous driving behavior or (2) a motor vehicle accident. Some feel the broad language of the reckless driving law in Virginia permit it to be used by law enforcement as a catch all offense capable of being charged in almost any circumstance.
The law section reads as follows:
§ 46.2-852. Reckless driving; general rule.
Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.
My experience as a former prosecutor and expertise obtained by handling more than 1,000 Virginia Reckless Driving offenses can help you avoid a conviction!
Dangerous Driving Behavior
As the title of the law denotes, this law prohibits the reckless operation of a motor vehicle. This reckless operation can be speed, driving behavior, or a combination thereof, any of which endangers the life, limb, or property of another person. The focus of this law is the manner of operation. In fact, the term “Recklessly” has been defined by Virginia Appellant Courts as a disregard by the driver of a motor vehicle for the consequences of his act and an indifference to the safety of life, limb or property.
A classic example of an offense qualifying under this reading of the Virginia Reckless Driving law is a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, changing lanes without signaling and in close proximity to other vehicles, and essentially weaving in and out of traffic. In this situation the speed and manner of operation are endangering the other drivers on the road and there is a high probability that the driving behavior could result in injury to another. However, this example is not always the case. What about the driver who crosses into the shoulder 100 feet prior to the place where the exit begins? Is he guilty of Reckless Driving? Many might say yes but other will say no. However, it depends on a variety of other factors. Traffic conditions, weather conditions, road impediments, speed, etc.
An experienced criminal defense attorney has likely dealt with hundreds if not thousands of these cases. They know how individual Judges are going to consider the facts and can predict, with a reasonable degree of certainty, the likely outcome. Because this offense is so serious and classified as criminal, consulting with an experienced traffic attorney is critical to protect yourself, your driving record, and your livelihood.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Almost any motor vehicle accident, from the most severe to the most minor, may end up in a reckless driving charge. This is particularly true when the state police are the investigating agency. Almost every accident that occurs on the interstate in Virginia results in a Reckless Driving charge. But remember, the mere happening of an accident in Virginia does not give rise to any inference of reckless driving. In fact, Reckless driving should not be considered a status offense by the court and a conviction can not be premised upon “speculation and conjecture as to what caused the accident.”
While most people will agree, absent circumstances that rise to the level articulated in the foregoing section, a simple accident will not result in a conviction of Reckless Driving but that premise may not be taken for granted. Depending on a variety of factors, including the statements made by the driver at the time of the accident, a judge may find beyond a reasonable that you are guilty of Reckless Driving.
An experienced criminal defense attorney specializing in traffic law can help you navigate Virginia courts to avoid a conviction of reckless driving. Regardless of whether you feel the charge is just or not, an attorney can help keep you from being convicted of reckless driving.
Virginia Reckless Driving THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Reckless Driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor
- Reckless Driving is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $2,500.00.
- Reckless Driving is a six (6) point offense
- Reckless Driving stays on a driving record for 11 years.
- Reckless Driving on a criminal record remains for the rest of you life.
- You can perform MITIGATION EFFORTS prior to court in an effort to minimize the charge or the punishment. Click here.