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Driving Too Fast for Traffic Conditions (46.2-861)

Whenever you are driving, one of your biggest considerations is what is the speed limit. From highways to residential streets, most roads have them and we attempt to maintain them. However, what if there are traffic conditions that require you to drive slower than the speed limit. There may be times when you’ve been driving while it has been raining or snowing you might notice that there are cars on the road going under the speed limit. That can be frustrating, and you may think, “it’s just rain,” or “it’s just snow.” However, if you are driving too fast for the conditions of the road, you could be committing a criminal offense.

But what if you were going the speed limit? Yes, even if you were going the speed limit! In Virginia, driving too fast for conditions is considered a form of reckless driving and therefore a criminal charge. This includes weather conditions or traffic patterns that may make it unsafe to drive at the posted speed limit. The reckless driving statute that criminalizes this is Driving Too Fast for Highway or Traffic Conditions. The Virginia Code Section 46.2-861 defines this reckless driving statute as;

A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.

The statute may seem vague and without many details, but this is a very fact-specific statute and each situation is different. Because driving too fast for conditions is very fact specific, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine whether you were properly charged. Therefore, while it may be frustrating to be stuck behind a car that is driving slower than the speed limit in the rain or snow, it may be wise to slow down as well. Reckless driving in Virginia is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and carries a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine not exceeding $2,500.00. Additionally, reckless driving is a six (6) point offense on your driving record. A reckless driving conviction stays on your driving record for 11 years and reckless driving remains on a criminal record for the rest of your life and cannot be expunged.

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