Reckless Driving

Travelling along Virginia’s highways can offer drivers spectacular views throughout the seasons and to the unwary driver a few surprises, one being reckless driving by speed.  Virginia has codified speeding in excess of twenty miles over the speed limit or any speed above 80 as reckless driving and as a class one misdemeanor it carries a powerful punch.  A possible 12 month jail sentence, $2500 fine and suspended driving privileges for up to 6 months await speed aficionados and traffic pacers alike.  And in case you missed it, any speed above 80 in Virginia is considered reckless driving and yes, that includes speeding 11 over in a posted 70 mile per hour zone.  Additionally for drivers carrying a Virginia driver’s license, a conviction carries with it 6 demerit points and haunts your driving record for a whopping eleven years.
                 For most motorists residing in States with more relaxed speed regulations, the thought of travelling a bit faster than the posted limit resulting in a criminal conviction is the furthest thing from their mind, but in Virginia it is a distinct possibility.  While consistency and precedent are cornerstones of our judicial system, when it comes to reckless driving by speed, the jurisdiction in which you’re charged can make a difference and an attorney who is familiar with that jurisdiction’s court is best poised to take advantage of those differences.  A simple consultation with an attorney who has practiced in the jurisdiction may relieve a lot of unwanted stress and may even provide a defendant with a means to avoid appearing at trial.  Because of the possibility of a jail sentence many Virginia courts require a defendant to appear at a reckless driving trial but some may allow a defendant to appear through their attorney.  It is well advised to speak with an attorney before a court date is forgotten or missed as a failure to appear at trial could result in a show cause being issued and an arrest.  And while reckless driving by speed is by far the most common, it is not the only way a driver can end up with a reckless driving charge. In addition to reckless driving by speed, Virginia has thirteen other reckless driving codes on the books.   Other than reckless by speed the most common are the two “catch-all” reckless driving codes.  Driving in such a manner as to endanger life, limb or property runs afoul Virginia’s reckless driving general statute and failing to maintain proper control of your vehicle is also considered reckless and both charges carry the same criminal ramifications as reckless by speed.  Almost any accident along Virginia’s highways could result in either of these charges and it is very common for a reckless driving charge to accompany a DUI charge as well.  There are many drivers involved in single car accidents in Virginia who find out to their chagrin that the officer who shows up to assist them also cites them for the criminal offense of reckless driving even though the officer may not have witnessed the accident.  It is these moments that many learn too late that remaining silent would’ve proven much more successful than their attempts to explain their way out of a ticket since an otherwise uninformed officer can build a successful case from the driver’s own words.  Needless to say, while some may feel quite at ease appearing before a judge to face a speeding infraction, most could benefit from an attorney’s representation when the charge is reckless driving. Even in instances where a defendant is caught “red handed” or admitted guilt at the scene a good attorney can help smooth over the edges of what could otherwise be a harsh sentence.  Whether it’s simply knowing the factors a particular judge finds relevant or knowing the right questions to ask a police officer at trial, a good attorney may keep a day in court from becoming a stint in jail.