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Understanding The Role Of Road Conditions In Reckless Driving Cases

Under Virginia law, there are as many as fifteen offenses that fall under the crime of reckless driving. Driving too fast for highway or traffic conditions is one of these offenses and, if you are found guilty, can result in jail time, heavy fines, and other penalties. Understanding the role of road conditions in reckless driving cases is key to avoiding these charges and defending your rights in court. 

As the law firm of choice for drivers across Virginia, Driving Defense Law has successfully reduced or dismissed reckless driving charges using our proven defense approach. When you work with us, you can expect a tailored legal defense strategy, zealous representation from our team of experienced attorneys, and a careful attention to detail. To discuss your case in greater detail with our team, consider contacting us via call or text at (757) 929-0335 today. 

What Is Reckless Driving? 

Generally, reckless driving is a serious moving violation that is associated with aggressive driving and indifference to the safety of other drivers on the road. In Virginia, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense punishable by up to a year in jail, $2,500 in fines, and other penalties such as license suspension or revocation. Article 7 of the Virginia Code establishes several different ways that a person can be charged with reckless driving, including:

  • Excessive speed
  • Driving a vehicle which is not under proper control or which has faulty brakes
  • Passing at the crest of a grade or a curve 
  • Driving with an obstructed view 
  • Passing two cars side by side
  • Failing to give a proper signal
  • Overtaking at a railway crossing
  • Passing a school bus that is stopped
  • Driving too fast for highway or traffic conditions
  • Engaging in a road race

When it comes to the role of road conditions in reckless driving charges, “driving too fast for highway or traffic conditions” is particularly important. Drivers are legally required to maintain a safe speed and adjust their driving behaviors to compensate for poor road conditions. Driving too fast for road conditions can result in a reckless driving charge, regardless of the speed limit (Virginia Code § 46.2-861). 

Driving Too Fast in These Road Conditions Can Lead to a Reckless Driving Charge…

The language of the law is intentionally vague, leaving room for interpretation by law enforcement, attorneys, and judges. There are several circumstances in which a police officer may pull you over for driving too fast for highway or traffic conditions, including: 

  • Poor weather including fog, snow, rain, or sleet. In fact, weather conditions contribute to roughly 11% of all car accidents in the United States. As it pertains to road conditions in reckless driving cases, inclement weather plays a major role. 
  • Traffic is slowed because of an accident. This is a common reason why Virginia drivers receive moving violations. Drivers are required to slow down for vehicles stopped on the side of the road, and failing to do so can leave you in trouble with the law. 
  • Road construction. Many times, the speed limit is reduced in construction zones due to the dangerous environment created by roadway construction. You may be caught going well over the speed limit if you are not aware of the change. 
  • Entering a curve too quickly. A substantial percentage of speeding-related fatalities happen on curves, and law enforcement knows this. Speeding on winding Virginia roads can easily lead to a reckless driving charge. 

What Are the Consequences of Driving Too Fast for Road Conditions?

If you are convicted of driving too fast for road conditions, you can face severe penalties that impact your future, your financial stability, and your freedom. As a Class 1 misdemeanor, a conviction of reckless driving can lead to the following penalties: 

  • Up to 1 year in jail 
  • A maximum of $2,500 in fines
  • License suspension or revocation
  • 6 demerit points on your license
  • Probation

In addition to these penalties, having a reckless driving charge on your record can significantly increase your insurance rates, impact your ability to secure employment, and make it more difficult for you to obtain a loan or mortgage. Overall, the reckless driving charges and penalties should not be taken lightly. If you are facing reckless driving charges, it is important to seek assistance from an experienced attorney at Driving Defense Law to build your defense. 

Is It Possible to Defend Against Reckless Driving Charges? 

As mentioned, the law governing road conditions in reckless driving charges is quite vague and open to interpretation. This may seem like a disadvantage initially, but in fact this ambiguity can be used to your benefit when building a legal defense for your case. The actual verbiage of the law matters in these cases. The law states that a person can be found guilty of reckless driving if they exceed a reasonable speed under the given circumstances and traffic conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit. 

If your attorney can provide evidence that shows your behavior was not unreasonable, the charges may be reduced or dismissed altogether. Your past driving history, familiarity with the roads, witness testimonies, and your distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you may be helpful in these cases. Moreover, agreeing to complete driver’s safety school or community service may compel a judge to reduce the misdemeanor charge for reckless driving down to an infraction for careless driving

Speak with A Knowledgeable Driving Defense Law Attorney About the Role of Road Conditions in Reckless Driving Cases

If you were charged with reckless driving due to traffic or road conditions, there are options available to help defend your rights and minimize the consequences of your charges. At Driving Defense Law, we do not believe in one-size-fits-all legal defense. Rather, we craft a personalized defense strategy for every person we represent. Through our client-centric approach, we have been able to successfully reduce or dismiss charges for countless clients. To learn more about how we can help, consider scheduling a free case evaluation with our team at (757) 929-0335 today.