Reckless driving violations are very serious charges to face in Virginia. A conviction carries penalties like fines, license suspension and a class 1 misdemeanor. These consequences have lasting effects and can burden even the most proactive motorist.
There are 14 different statutes for reckless driving in Virginia:
- § 46.2-852 Reckless driving; general rule
- § 46.2-853 Driving vehicle which is not under control; faulty brakes.
- § 46.2-854 Passing on or at the crest of a grade or on a curve.
- § 46.2-855 Driving with driver’s view obstructed or control impaired.
- § 46.2-856 Passing two vehicles abreast.
- § 46.2-857 Driving two abreast in a single lane.
- § 46.2-858 Passing at a railroad grade crossing.
- § 46.2-859 Passing a stopped school bus; prima facie evidence.
- § 46.2-860 Failing to give proper signals.
- § 46.2-861 Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions.
- § 46.2-862 Exceeding speed limit.
- § 46.2-863 Failure to yield right-of-way.
- § 46.2-864 Reckless driving on parking lots, etc.
- § 46.2-865 Racing; penalty.
Classification and Penalties
Virginia Code § 46.2-868 dictates that reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor and it carries extremely serious consequences. In Virginia, a Class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious category of misdemeanors and falls just one step short of a felony. As a misdemeanor, it a maximum one year in jail, $2500 fine, and 6 month license suspension. A conviction means other consequences are likely. Consequences (ie: increased insurance premiums, points on your driving record, license suspension and failed criminal background checks) can also be part of your case outcome.
The most common form of reckless driving is excessive speed. Virginia code explains this as:
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.Virginia Code 46.2-862
Reckless driving code section § 46.2-862 is the most frequently used among law enforcement professionals.
Interpreting Virginia Code 46.2-862
It’s important to note, this statute strictly refers to the speed at which you are driving without any regard to your manner of driving. This statute defines reckless driving in two ways. First, it mandates that you can be convicted for traveling 20 or more miles per hour above the speed limit. Secondly, you can be convicted for driving over 80 miles per hour no matter the posted speed limit. The latter section becomes particularly troublesome on highways with 70 mile per hour speed limits. This means that a motorist pulled over for going as little as 11 miles per hour over the speed limit will be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor.
Virginia Code 46.2-852: General Rule
If the charge was unrelated to speed it likely will fall under reckless driving; general rule. This statute allows a police officer to charge you if he believes you were driving in a manner that endangers life or property.
Understanding the implications of Virginia Code 46.2-852:
Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.
Defending Reckless Driving
When representing someone charged with reckless driving, Mattox Law looks for an absolute defense to the case. In every traffic violation, there are technicalities that officers are required to follow for a conviction to be upheld. It’s important to engage an attorney who knows what to ask for and where to look to ensure that all the proper procedures have been followed.
When there is no absolute defense, a reckless driving case will often hinge on what mitigation evidence has been presented. The right evidence can often save the most difficult case.
Many of these proactive solutions can significantly alter the outcome of a case:
Mattox Law has handled hundreds of reckless driving cases has a proven track of obtaining outstanding results for our clients. If you have additional questions about your case, please contact our office today.
I shall be ETERNALLY GRATEFUL for your personal touch and the outstanding representation I received as a client of the Mattox Law Firm. You obtained the BEST possible outcome for me in regards to my Reckless Driving (90/70) charge.