Virginia Reckless Driving Attorney
A Virginia reckless driving charge can have a serious impact on your life if it is not handled aggressively. Many people do not realize that a reckless driving ticket in Virginia is far more severe than a normal traffic ticket. Whether your charge was due to a momentary lapse in concentration, a wrongful accusation for what only should have amounted to a routine traffic violation, or an entirely wrongful charge, if you are found guilty of reckless driving in the Commonwealth, you face penalties ranging from fines and driving restrictions to possible jail time.
In addition, the consequences do not end with those handed down by a judge. A conviction will almost certainly mean a drastic increase in your car insurance premiums, plus a criminal record that could hamper your ability to find employment, education, or even housing in the future. Whatever your case may be, you should strongly consider contacting a Virginia reckless driving attorney to begin building a defense and protecting your rights.
Elements of Reckless Driving in Virginia
Reckless driving in Northern Virginia is defined by State Code Section 46.2-852. According to this statute, it is illegal to drive a vehicle on a roadway in a manner that is deemed reckless, in a manner that endangers “life, limb or property,” or at a speed that is similarly deemed reckless. If a police officer deems you are driving recklessly, they will pull you over and conduct a traffic stop.
Typically, if it is a matter of speed, the charge will be listed as reckless driving by speed in violation of Section 46.2-862. Reckless driving by speed is generally considered driving at a speed of approximately 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit or over 80 miles per hour regardless of the posted limit. Drivers may also be charged with reckless driving if they drive too fast for the road or weather conditions, drive a vehicle without adequately adjusted brakes, or pass an emergency vehicle that has its lights or siren on.
Section 46.2-864 of the Virginia Code also prohibits reckless driving in areas other than roadways and highways, including:
- A highway that is currently under construction, even if it is currently closed to the public
- The premises of an industrial establishment designed to offer parking space to employees, patrons, and customers
- A driveway or parking lot of a business, government property, recreational facility, school, or church
What are the Penalties for Driving Recklessly?
The Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868 defines the penalties for reckless driving offenses. According to the code, an individual who is found guilty of reckless driving will receive a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction on their record. This is the same classification of a conviction given to those found guilty of DUI, marijuana possession, and simple assault.
The penalties associated with a Class 1 misdemeanor charge include a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to one year in jail. It is also possible to have your driving privileges suspended for a period of up to six months, in addition to having six demerit points assessed to your driving record.
An experienced Virginia reckless driving lawyer will review the details of your case to prepare a strong defense. Some of the questions an attorney may raise in court to defend your innocence include:
- Did other witnesses observe your alleged reckless driving offense? What evidence do they have? Are they credible?
- Did the law enforcement officer appropriately follow police procedural standards and rules before arresting and/or ticketing you? Was his radar or speed detection equipment properly calibrated?
- Was the speedometer in your vehicle properly calibrated? Were you forced to drive recklessly due to an emergency situation? Did your charge involve an emergency vehicle that was improperly marked or not displaying emergency lights?
- Do you have a clean driving history aside from this alleged offense?
- What points will be asserted by the prosecutor, and how can they be refuted based on the facts of your case?
A person may also face additional penalties if they are found to be in possession of and access to a radar detector or jammer in their vehicle.
Can Reckless Driving be Charged as a Felony?
According to State Code Section 46.2-868, if you are found guilty of reckless driving and either your reckless driving directly resulted in the death of another individual or you were driving while your license was revoked or suspended from a previous offense, you could be convicted of a Class 6 felony as opposed to a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor charges, which is why it is crucial to secure the services of a Virginia reckless driving lawyer with a strong track record of success. The penalties associated with a Class 6 felony conviction may include a prison sentence ranging from one to twenty years as well as one to three years of driving suspensions, exorbitant fines, probation, and more.
Additional Causes for Reckless Driving Charges in Virginia
Aside from speeding 20 mph over the legal limit, you could be charged with reckless driving in NoVa for one of the following:
- General reckless driving (code Section 46.2-852)
- Vehicle not under control (code Section 46.2-853)
- Racing with another vehicle (code Section 46.2-865)
- Passing a school bus that is stopped to pick up or drop off children (code Section 46.2-859)
- Driving an overloaded vehicle that interferes with visibility and/or driving control (code Section 46.2-855)
Experienced reckless driving lawyers in Virginia are familiar with the many causes, and are capable of creating a defense custom-tailored to each.
Contact a Virginia Reckless Driving Attorney
You should not allow for a reckless driving charge to have serious long-term consequences on your life. With the help of an experienced lawyer, you can fight your charge and strive for a satisfactory case resolution.
Virginia reckless driving lawyers will examine both your case and prior reckless driving cases to build a strong defense aimed at helping you receive a favorable outcome in court. They will be able to give you detailed and informed suggestions about your case, including how enrolling in a driver improvement course will benefit your case.
If you have questions about how best to deal with your reckless driving citation, contact our office today.