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Manassas Reckless Driving Attorneys

What's Considered Reckless Driving in Virginia?

There is typically one of 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 permits 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.

Virginia Reckless Driving charges are serious and are considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia are punishable by a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500.00. Additionally, a conviction for reckless driving in Virginia could result in a suspension of your license for up to six months. Furthermore, the Virginia DMV assesses six (6) points for a reckless driving conviction and it stays on your driver’s record for eleven (11) years.

Don’t just accept these charges without a fight. Call Dischley Law, PLLC today at (703) 215-9337 to schedule a free initial consultation with our Manassas reckless driving attorneys.

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 before the place where the exit begins? Is he guilty of Reckless Driving? Many might say yes but others 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 with a reckless driving charge. This is particularly true when the state police is 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 doubt that you are guilty of Reckless Driving.

An experienced criminal defense attorney focusing on 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.

Things to remember:

Maximum Penalties Explained

The jail sentence and fine are maximum penalties. This does not necessarily mean that the judge will impose a jail sentence or a $2,500.00 fine in your case. The amount of the jail time, if any is imposed, the amount of the fine, and the whether or not a person’s license is suspended depends on a variety of factors specific to your situation, including, but not limited to, the speed you were traveling, traffic conditions, time of day, driving record, whether anyone was injured as a result of your driving behavior, and your attitude towards the police officer.

  • Criminal Offense - The classification of Reckless Driving as a Class 1 Misdemeanor means that it is a criminal offense equitable to offenses like DWI | DUI | Drunk Driving ( § 18.2-266), Petit Larceny (§ 18.2-96), and assault and battery (§ 18.2-57).
  • Strict Liability - Some Virginia Reckless Driving offenses are considered strict liability offenses. This means the government does not have to show an intent element (mens rea) or scienter element to prove the offense against a person. A perfect example of this is Reckless Driving by Speed in violation of § 46.2-862 of the Code of Virginia. To substantiate a conviction for this offense, all the government must do is establish that you were the driver of a vehicle that was traveling at a speed prohibited by this law section. If the act, regardless of intent or mental state, falls within the preclusive effect of the statute, it is sufficient to sustain a conviction.
  • Effect On Your Personal & Professional Life - Because a Virginia reckless driving charge is a criminal offense, a mere conviction can cause serious problems for a person’s employment, security clearance, immigration status, and more. These problems are unique to each individual's circumstances. However, a skilled and experienced attorney can help mitigate the consequences. Understanding the charge is the first step to getting the offense resolved in your favor. In Virginia, over 11 different statutes contain driving behavior punishable as reckless driving.

Dischley Law, PLLC Reckless Driving Legal Counsel

In Virginia, there is no better advice to give for a Reckless Driving charge than hire a lawyer. A common saying in the legal community is that reasonable minds can, and often do, differ. Never is this saying more true than amongst the judges offering their opinions as to the appropriate punishment on a Reckless Driving case. Punishments can vary immensely between cases. Factors judges consider include the speed at the time of the offense, weather conditions, traffic conditions, time of day, driving record, etc. Minor differences in any one of these factors could change a case from being one where just a fine is appropriate to one where jail is possible. Do not take the risk – an experienced traffic lawyer can help.

As a former prosecutor in two Northern Virginia jurisdictions, our team has handled hundreds of these cases and can many times opine regarding the anticipated outcome of a Reckless Driving case depending on the facts and circumstances peculiar to your situation.

Contact our reckless driving lawyers in Manassas today to find out more about how we can help!

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  • “After receiving a Reckless Driving summons in Fairfax, VA, I contacted a number of lawyers. I found my conversation with Dischley Law to be the most helpful and comforting.”

    - R.M.
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