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Virginia Reckless Driving Attorney

Virginia has over 1100 miles of interstate highways and almost 60,000 miles of state-maintained roads in total. While Virginia roads take you through some of the most beautiful countryside in the nation, they are also some of the most carefully watched by law enforcement. In 2022, Virginia ranked sixth in the nation for the percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket on record. The truth is that the Commonwealth hands out a LOT of speeding tickets, and a large portion of those tickets are for reckless driving.

Why do Virginia police write so many speeding and reckless driving tickets? Well, unfortunately it’s because we like to drive very fast here in the Commonwealth! This fast driving leads to accidents. In 2022, there were over 1000 fatalities caused by vehicle crashes, the highest ever on record in Virginia. (Source, Virginia DMV Crash Facts)

As Virginia drivers speed up, law enforcement officials keep pace and write tickets. For individual drivers, just keeping up with traffic often means driving fast enough that you will receive a reckless driving ticket if pulled out of the herd by a radar-wielding state trooper. When that happens, it is important to consult an attorney about what to do, as the consequences can be very different from a normal speeding ticket. Before looking at what a good traffic attorney can do for you on a reckless driving charge, let’s look a little closer at what reckless driving actually is.

In a nutshell, reckless driving is any type of moving violation that is serious enough that it endangers life, limb or property. Because of the more serious risk to the public, reckless driving is actually a criminal charge, not a civil charge like normal moving violations. It is a class one misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, $2500 and/or a loss of driving privileges. Now, most people found guilty of a reckless driving charge won’t be sent to jail on a first offense, but the consequences can still be severe. Convictions for misdemeanors generally stay “on your record” in Virginia forever and can dramatically affect insurance rates, DMV record and even employment possibilities for the future, so they are no joke.

There are numerous types of reckless driving, and therefore different laws that were written to cover various scenarios. Here are some examples:

Reckless Driving by Speed § 46.2-862

One of the most common types of reckless driving in Virginia is speeding over 20 mph over the speed limit or over 85 mph regardless of how many mph over the speed limit a person is driving. Since speed limits are often 70mph on Virginia interstate highways, this means that people may charged with criminal reckless driving for going only 16 mph over the speed limit! At speeds over 90mph, Virginia judges will start to consider imposing a jail sentence, so those cases certainly merit a conversation with a good traffic lawyer.

General Reckless Driving § 46.2-852

This is the most generic reckless driving code section. It’s basically a catch-all law which says that driving in ANY manner is reckless if one is endangering life, limb or property. Common examples of this type of charge are driving rapidly through slow traffic, very rapid lane movement or doing just about anything that an officer thinks is very dangerous. Police sometimes cite drivers under 46.2-852 in accident cases as well, for various practical reasons.

Keep in mind, for any type of reckless driving charge, the ticket may not be prepaid. Since it is a criminal charge, someone with this sort of charge MUST attend court, or at least hire a lawyer to represent them. Whether a person should attend court if they have hired an attorney is decided on a case-by-case basis, but a good traffic lawyer should be consulted to make the determination.

Reckless Driving Based on Failure to Maintain Control or Faulty Brakes § 46.2-853

Under § 46.2-853 of the Code of Virginia, a driver is guilty of reckless driving where they have inadequate control of their vehicle or improperly adjusted brakes or other equipment. This code section is also used at times in accident cases. Even where law enforcement does not know what happened to cause an accident, they can charge a driver where they have reason to believe that faulty equipment caused an accident or a driver just wasn’t paying close enough attention. So, get those brakes checked and don’t check your phone while driving!

Here are the other types of reckless driving under Virginia law:

  • Passing When View is Obstructed § 46.2-854
  • Car Overloaded § 46.2-855
  • Passing Two Vehicles Abreast § 46.2-856
  • Two Vehicles In One Lane § 46.2-857
  • Passing at an Intersection or Railroad Grade Crossing § 46.2-858
  • Passing a Stopped School Bus § 46.2-859
  • Failing to Give Proper Signals § 46.2-860
  • Driving Too Fast for Traffic Conditions § 46.2-861
  • Failure to Yield the Right of Way § 46.2-863
  • Racing § 46.2-864,65.

As you can see, there are many ways to be charged with reckless driving in the Commonwealth. So what should you do if charged? Well, the first thing you need is knowledge and a plan of attack. A consultation with a good traffic attorney will give you an understanding of the possible consequences of your particular case, a good plan of action for handling it, and the peace of mind of knowing that you’re doing everything you can to protect your future. Generally, a 10-15 minute conversation over the phone is sufficient to answer most questions on a reckless driving case and get a general idea of outcomes for your type of charge. Our attorneys have handled hundreds of reckless driving charges all over Virginia. We understand the law, the local rules of practice and the strategies necessary to get the best outcome in these cases. A good lawyer can often find a path to getting a reckless driving charge reduced to a normal civil offense or even dismissed entirely. While every case is different, we are extremely proud of the outcomes we have achieved and can’t stress enough how important it is to have an attorney who specializes in this type of law.

We would love to help you with your reckless driving charge or simply give you the information to deal with a very stressful situation. Our consultations are free and we love hearing the relief people have after a short conversation that gives peace of mind and a path forward, whether or not we’re even hired. Call one of our Virginia traffic attorneys today to get your own peace of mind and, as always, drive safe in the Commonwealth!

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