Failing to give a proper signal may seem like an innocent mistake. Unfortunately, in Virginia, misuse of a turn signal is a serious offense that can lead to reckless driving charges. Those found guilty of reckless driving in the state may face jail time, fines, and other consequences. Through a strategic legal defense, however, it is possible to defend your rights and have these charges reduced or dismissed entirely. To learn more about how the team of experienced attorneys at Driving Defense Law can help you, consider contacting our office at (757) 929-0335 today.
What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Virginia law sets forth a list of different offenses that can be charged as reckless driving in the state. All of these offenses share one similar element: endangering the life and safety of others on the road. In Virginia, there are several ways a person can be found guilty of reckless driving, including:
- Excessive speed, such as driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or driving 85 miles per hour or more, regardless of the posted speed limit.
- Failing to yield right-of-way and failing to slow down when approaching stationary vehicles displaying warning lights on highways
- Driving too fast for traffic and road conditions.
- Road racing.
- Passing two vehicles abreast, passing at a railroad crossing, and passing on a curve or at the crest of a grade.
- Failing to give a proper signal.
These are merely some of the circumstances that can lead to reckless driving charges, as established by Virginia Code § 46.2-853-869. Reckless driving is a serious offense in the state and carries harsher penalties than simple traffic infractions.
What Does the Law Say About Failing to Give a Proper Signal?
According to the Code of Virginia § 46.2-848, any driver who intends to back, stop, or turn must give signal to other drivers on the road who may be affected by their movement. This is a requirement under the law, meaning if you fail to signal your intention to move, you may receive a moving violation. Based on information found in the Virginia Driver’s Manual, you should signal at least 100 feet before you back, stop, or turn to give other drivers adequate time to respond.
Section 46.2-860 of the Virginia Code establishes that drivers who fail to properly signal their intended movements can be found guilty of reckless driving. Regardless of whether you simply forgot to signal, did not break any other traffic laws, or did not hurt anyone as a result, you can still be charged with reckless driving if you fail to give a proper signal.
What Are the Penalties of a Reckless Driving Charge?
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, meaning that a person found guilty of reckless driving will face severe consequences that can impact their freedom greatly. In Virginia, reckless driving is punishable by:
- One year in jail
- $2,500 in fines
- Suspension or revocation of your license
- 6 demerit points on your license
These stringent punishments are in addition to other consequences such as increased insurance rates, reduced employment opportunities, and the creation of a criminal record. Having a criminal record can impact several areas of your life, including your ability to secure employment, take out loans and mortgages, rent or lease an apartment, and gain admission to universities.
While failing to give a proper signal may seem innocent, this offense carries serious penalties that can have a long-lasting impact on your life. For this reason, it is important to retain effective legal representation as soon as you are charged with reckless driving in Virginia. Without an attorney advocating for your rights, you may be left vulnerable to exorbitant penalties for a seemingly simple offense.
What Are the Possible Legal Defenses for Reckless Driving Charges?
Like any other charge, reckless driving is defendable through a variety of strategies. At Driving Defense Law, the approach we take to defend against your charges will depend on a range of factors, including:
- The facts of your case. Every case is different, and we will evaluate the facts of your case to determine our strategy in reducing or dismissing your charges. Did you fail to signal because you were trying to avoid colliding with another driver? It is possible that you signaled, but the officer was unable to see due to their position or poor weather conditions? Were you unaware that your signal fuses went bad? In some cases, a reckless driving charge can be reduced to an improper driving infraction, which carries a maximum penalty of $500 in fines.
- Your prior driving history. If you have a history of good driving, this may be leveraged to reduce or dismiss your charges.
- The evidence available to support your case. We work diligently to identify and compile all relevant evidence that may support your case. If we are able to build a strong enough case supported by objective evidence, we may be able to have your charges dropped. We may use witness testimony, surveillance camera footage, or police dash cam footage to this extent.
- Jurisdiction: the court that has authority over your case plays a major role in the outcome of your charges. We are closely familiar with the courts of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Portsmouth, and have built relationships with the judges and prosecutors working in these court systems. This gives us an advantage when negotiating your charges and resolving your case as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Having a misdemeanor conviction on your record for failing to give proper signal is unfortunate and avoidable through an effective legal defense strategy. If you are facing charges for reckless driving, consider speaking with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to mitigate the consequences of these charges and ensure that your rights are protected.
Protect Your Rights with Driving Defense Law Today
Many Virginia drivers are not aware that failing to give proper signal on the roads is a criminal offense until it is too late. If you have been charged with reckless driving, consider contacting an experienced attorney at Driving Defense Law to begin building your legal defense. Our team has the knowledge and expertise necessary to navigate your case and successfully reduce or dismiss your charges. To learn more about how we can protect your rights, consider scheduling a free case evaluation with us at (757) 929-0335 today.