The crime of reckless driving encompasses a wide range of offenses in Virginia.
For many people, when the term reckless driving comes to mind, it conjures up images of someone engaging in very dangerous and risky driving maneuvers. Although this type of driving is no doubt reckless, in Virginia other much less risky forms of driving can also constitute reckless driving. Since this is a serious traffic violation, it is important to have a basic understanding of what this crime entails.
What Speed Is Unreasonable?
One of the most common ways to be charged with reckless driving in Virginia is speeding. Under the law, there are three scenarios where a driver may be charged with reckless driving:
- Driving 80 miles-per-hour (regardless of the posted speed limit)
- Driving 20 miles-per-hour over the speed limit
- Driving at a speed that is unreasonable based on the circumstances and traffic conditions
- Driving in a manner that endangers life, limb or property and that could potentially cause an accident
The first two scenarios are fairly easy to understand. However, the last scenario is a bit more complicated. Since the law does not define what speed is reasonable, it is up to the police officers to judge this. As a result, if the officer has a subjective belief that you were driving at an unreasonable speed, given the traffic, weather or road conditions, you may face a reckless driving charge, even if reasonable minds would disagree.
In addition to speeding, Virginia drivers can also be charged with reckless driving if they operate their vehicles in a way that is likely to endanger another person’s life, limb or property.
Understanding Your Charges
Virginia law also allows drivers that commit a wide range of offenses to be charged with reckless driving. The offenses include:
- Failing to yield when entering a highway
- Driving a vehicle with nonfunctioning brakes
- Passing a vehicle as you approach a curve or hill, unless on a highway with at least two lanes running in the same direction
- Passing at a railroad crossing (unless allowed by law)
- Passing two vehicles traveling side-by-side in adjacent lanes, unless on a highway with at least three lanes running in the same direction
- Passing a school bus while it is loading or unloading children
- Failing to give turn signals
- Driving in a reckless manner on a parking lot or driveway of a school, church, business or government property that is open to public access
Protect Your Record
Drivers convicted of reckless driving in Virginia face the penalties of a Class 1 misdemeanor-the highest level of misdemeanors (just below a felony). Convicted drivers can face jail time of up to one year and fines up to $2,500. Also, the court has the power to order the suspension of the driver’s license for up to six months. Lastly, the driver may be assessed six points on his or her license and face a significant increase in insurance premiums as a result.
If you are charged with reckless driving, it is important to act fast to protect your rights. Attorney Joseph Thelin has over 15 years of criminal and reckless driving defense experience. Get the help you need to fight your charges and achieve the best possible outcome. Email the firm or call 703-659-0477. With an office in Manassas, we serve clients in the surrounding communities.
Keywords: reckless driving, traffic violation, Miscellaneous offenses, offenses