Do you know what qualifies as reckless driving in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2018 | Firm News |

Certain traffic infractions are straightforward. Speeding tickets, for example, typically reflect a radar reading that shows a vehicle traveling at a speed higher than the posted speed limit. The citation will state exactly how fast a driver was going, making any defense to a speeding infraction relatively straightforward.

Other kinds of traffic infractions are less objective and more subjective in certain cases. Reckless driving is a perfect example of a traffic violation that people find confusing. Someone may believe that their driving was perfectly safe, but law enforcement officers may not agree.

Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor traffic infraction in Virginia that can have a major impact on your freedom and finances. There is a mandatory minimum fine of $250, which could increase to as much as $2,500. There is also the potential for up to 12 months in jail for a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction. It’s important to understand what actually qualifies as reckless driving so that you can plan how to defend yourself.

Excessive speed is frequently an issue in Virginia reckless driving cases

The one thing that the Virginia legal code is quite clear about is how exceeding the speed limit could result in reckless driving charges. The law specifically states that anybody exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 20 miles an hour can face charges of reckless driving.

However, you don’t need to be traveling nearly that much over the speed limit in order to wind up charged with reckless driving. Anyone who law enforcement claims drove in excess of 80 miles an hour could also face reckless driving charges in the Virginia. In other words, you could exceed the speed limit by 10 miles an hour and still wind up facing reckless driving charges.

Some reckless driving charges are more subjective

The law in Virginia provides some leeway for law enforcement officers who believe that someone is not driving safely. They can cite anyone driving in a noticeably unsafe manner with reckless driving. However, this distinction is blurry, as what one officer may view as dangerous another may consider a normal road habit.

Your case depends in no small part on what officer you interact with during a traffic stop. Some forms of unsafe driving that could lead to charges include driving the wrong way on a one-way street, hanging out the window while driving or intentionally driving too close to pedestrians. It may be possible to defend against a reckless driving charge for speeding or dangerous driving, depending on the circumstances of your traffic stop.

With jail time and hefty fines possible, it may be a wise choice to defend against a reckless driving citation instead of just pleading guilty and trying to move on with your life.


FindLaw Network