Reckless driving is considered a serious criminal offense in Virginia, punishable by jail time, steep fines, and other long-lasting consequences. If you have been charged with reckless driving in Virginia, there are options available to protect your rights and reduce or dismiss your charges. At Driving Defense Law, we advocate for Virginia drivers who have been charged with reckless driving. Our team of experienced attorneys understand how to leverage proven defense strategies to successfully resolve your reckless driving charges. To learn more, consider contacting our office at (757) 929-0335 today.
What Are the Reckless Driving Laws in Virginia?
While the majority of states have reckless driving laws to hold drivers’ liable for aggressive behavior on the roadways and disregard of others’ safety, Virginia’s laws vary in several ways. In Virginia, there are over fifteen different ways that a person can be found guilty of reckless driving, including speeding. If you are driving on Virginia roads, it is important to understand what behaviors can result in a reckless driving charge in the state. When it comes to the reckless driving laws in Virginia, here is what you should know.
Reckless Driving & The Virginia Code
According to the Virginia Code § 46.2-852, in general, a person can be charged with reckless driving when they drive a vehicle in a manner that endangers the life, limb, or property of another individual. As this is a vague standard, Virginia law provides for several actions that can lead to reckless driving charges in Virginia Code § 46.2-853-869:
- Operating a vehicle which is not properly controlled, or which has inadequate brakes.
- Overtaking another vehicle on a curve or when approaching the steepest point of an inclined road on a highway, except when there are two designated lanes for each direction of travel or on a designated one-way road or highway.
- Driving a vehicle with an obstructed view or impaired control.
- Passing two vehicles that are driving side-by-side on a roadway. This does not apply if one or both of the vehicles is a bicycle or moped.
- Driving your vehicle side-by-side with another car in the same lane. Also known as driving two abreast in a single lane, it is illegal to share a single lane side-by-side with another vehicle. This does not apply to motorcycles.
- Overtaking within a railroad grade crossing.
- Failing to stop for a stopped school bus. According to Virginia law, drivers must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped to load or unload passengers, and failing to do so can be charged as reckless driving.
- Improper use of turn signals. Failing to give timely and adequate turn signals is a criminal offense in Virginia.
- Driving too fast for road or traffic conditions.
- Failing to yield to or slow down when approaching stationary vehicles that are displaying flashing lights.
- Speeding in an excess of 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or speeding at 85 miles per hour, regardless of speed limit.
- Failing to yield right-of-way.
- Operating a vehicle in a way that endangers others in a parking lot.
- Engaging in a road race on any highway, roadway, or driveway that is open to the public.
- Aiding and abetting a race.
Clearly, there are a multitude of circumstances that constitute reckless driving in Virginia. Those found guilty of reckless driving face serious consequences, as this charge is considered a criminal offense in the state. This underscores the importance of understanding how reckless driving is handled in Virginia and how to successfully challenge these charges.
What Are the Consequences of Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, meaning it carries more severe penalties compared to a minor traffic infraction. If you are found guilty of reckless driving, you may face the following consequences:
- One year in jail
- $2,500 in fines
- License suspension or revocation
- Six demerit points on your license
- Increased insurance rates
- Creation of a criminal record
The court will look at the nature of the crime when determining penalties for a reckless driving charge. For instance, Virginia Code § 46.2-861.1 sets forth the penalties for failing to yield right-of-way or reduce speed when approaching a stationary vehicle. If your reckless driving caused damage to the property of another person, you may not be able to operate a vehicle for up to one year. Moreover, according to Virginia Code § 46.2-865.1, if you injured another person or caused the death of another while engaging in a race, you may be charged with a felony.
How Can You Defend Against a Reckless Driving Charge in Virginia?
If you were charged with reckless driving in Virginia, it is important to seek effective legal representation as soon as possible. Since reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, a tailored legal strategy must be crafted to defend your rights and reduce your charges. Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, an experienced attorney at Driving Defense Law may be able to reduce your reckless driving misdemeanor to a mere infraction for careless driving.
This is an ideal scenario for those facing reckless driving charges, as careless driving is punishable by a fine of no more than $500. In other words, if your attorney is able to negotiate your charge down to a careless driving infraction, you can avoid jail time, a criminal record, and the other consequences of a class 1 misdemeanor offense.
Your attorney may also be able to reduce your charges through plea bargaining, which involves negotiating an agreement with the court. For instance, the court may agree to reduce your charges as long as you agree to complete driver’s safety school or community service.
Finally, your attorney may be able to effectively dismiss the charges altogether by asserting that your speedometer was not correctly calibrated, that the police radar or lidar gun produced an inaccurate reading, or that the validity of stop was questionable.
How Can an Experienced Attorney at Driving Defense Law Help Reduce or Dismiss Your Reckless Driving Charges?
Reckless driving in Virginia is a serious crime, it is important to act quickly to begin building your legal defense. Having a misdemeanor charge on your criminal record can have a detrimental impact on your life, your freedom, and your ability to secure employment or housing in the future. An experienced attorney at Driving Defense Law will thoroughly review your case, determine the right solution to reduce or dismiss your charges, and guide you through every step of the process. To begin your free case evaluation with our team, consider contacting us at (757) 929-0335 today.