In Virginia, a criminal citation for reckless driving is much more serious than a simple traffic ticket. Unlike other moving violations, reckless driving is a criminal offense and any person found guilty of reckless driving may be required to serve time in jail, pay heavy fines, or even face a license suspension. At Driving Defense Law, we can help navigate reckless driving charges and penalties in Virginia and ensure that your charges are reduced or dismissed entirely. To learn more about what sets us apart from other law firms, consider contacting us at (757) 929-0335 today.
What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?
In Virginia, individuals can be charged with reckless driving when they drive in a manner or at a speed that endangers the safety or property of another person. There are over fifteen offenses listed in Article 7 of the Code of Virginia that can result in a reckless driving charge:
- Driving a vehicle which is not under control or which has faulty brakes.
- Passing a vehicle while on a curve or when approaching the crest of a hill on a highway, unless there are two separate lanes for each direction of travel or if the road is a one-way.
- Driving with an obstructed view or when your control of the vehicle is impaired.
- Passing two vehicles abreast on a roadway.
- Driving shoulder-to-shoulder with another car in the same line. This does not apply to motorcycles.
- Passing at a railroad grade crossing.
- Failing to stop for a school bus that has stopped to load or discharge children.
- Driving too fast for road or traffic conditions.
- Excessive speeding, which is defined as anything 20 miles or more over the speed limit or 85 miles per hour regardless of posted speed limit.
- Failure to use turn signals.
- Operating a vehicle recklessly in a parking lot.
- Failing to yield right-of-way.
- Road racing.
- Aiding and abetting a road race.
- Failing to yield to or slow down when approaching stationary vehicles that are displaying flashing lights.
In addition to reckless driving, Virginia law has established charges for aggressive driving and improper/careless driving as well, which carry their own unique penalties. These offenses share some commonalities, making it important to understand the distinctions between all three charges.
What Are the Penalties for Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving charges and penalties in Virginia are severe, and being charged with reckless driving can impact a person’s life, future, and freedom. In Virginia, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, punishable by:
- Up to one year in jail
- $2,500 in fines
- License suspension or revocation
- Six demerit points
A reckless driving conviction will also result in a criminal record, which will appear on background checks used for employment, housing, licensing, and other purposes.
What Is Aggressive Driving in Virginia and What Are the Penalties?
According to Virginia Code § 46.2-868.1, aggressive driving is a lesser offense compared to reckless driving. A person can be found guilty of aggressive driving if they are caught doing any of the following:
- Failing to drive on the right side of the highway
- Following too closely in traffic
- Failing to observe the designated lanes
- Evading traffic control devices
- Improperly passing when overtaking a vehicle
- Stopping on the highway
Aggressive driving is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of $1,000, and four demerit points on your driving record. In addition to these penalties, the court may also require those convicted of aggressive driving to complete a safe driving program.
It should be noted that like reckless driving, aggressive driving is a misdemeanor offense, meaning being convicted of this crime will create a criminal record. Therefore, while these charges are not as severe as reckless driving charges and penalties, aggressive driving can gravely impact your ability to secure employment, rent or lease a home, gain admission to college, and take out a loan or mortgage.
What Is Improper Driving in Virginia and What Are the Penalties?
Improper driving, also known as careless driving, is a charge available to those who were initially charged with reckless driving. Under Virginia Code § 46.2-869, a reckless driving charge can be reduced to an improper driving charge by the prosecutor or judge as long as there is a slight degree of culpability. This means that the reckless driving offense was not exceptionally severe or egregious.
For instance, if a person is caught speeding at 23 miles per hour over the speed limit, they can be charged with reckless driving under Virginia law. This is because the threshold for excessive speed under reckless driving laws is 20 miles per hour. Since they were only going 3 miles an hour above this threshold, their attorney may be able to negotiate their charge down to improper driving because the degree of culpability is slight.
What Are the Possible Defenses for Reckless Driving and Aggressive Driving?
If you are charged with reckless driving or aggressive driving in Virginia, it is important to seek assistance from an experienced attorney as quickly as possible. Your attorney will review the facts of your case and create a defense strategy to reduce or dismiss your charges. At Driving Defense Law, some of the strategies that have proven successful for our clients include:
- Proving that the officer’s radar or lidar gun reading was inaccurate.
- Asserting that our client’s speedometer was improperly calibrated.
- Arguing that our client’s GPS speed was lower than the officer’s radar reading.
- Claiming that our client’s conduct should be classified as improper/careless driving rather than reckless or aggressive driving.
- Contending that our client was not the person driving.
- Demonstrating that our client’s reckless or aggressive driving was a response to an emergency or to avoid colliding with another driver on the road.
How an Experienced Driving Defense Law Attorney Can Help You Avoid Reckless Driving Charges and Penalties in Virginia
If you are facing reckless driving or aggressive driving charges, you may be worried about how a conviction will affect your life and your freedom. Driving Defense Law has become the law firm of choice for drivers across Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth. When you work with us, you can expect an experience that is tailored to your needs. Through our unique approach, we have successfully reduced and dismissed countless reckless driving charges and penalties in Virginia courts. For more information about how we can help or to book your free consultation, consider contacting us at (757) 929-0335 today.