Virginia Reckless Driving Law Firm
Reckless driving constitutes a class one misdemeanor. That means the maximum punishment is a $2,500 fine and up to 12 months in jail. It also gives you six points on your driver’s license that remain there for 11 years.
Statutes Covering Reckless Driving
There are two main Code sections in Virginia criminalizing reckless driving: Code § 46.2-862 and Code § 46.2-852.
Reckless driving under Code § 46.2-862 is a common offense since it just depends on speed. This section states: “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.”
If you go either 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour, you fall under this section. Going over 80 can be especially common where the speed limit reaches 70 miles per hour. In that case, if you go 11 miles over the speed limit, you’re recklessly driving.
The other main reckless driving statute covers driving in a generally reckless way, regardless of speed. Code § 46.2-852 states: “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.”
Reckless driving may also occur for other reasons, but they are less common.
Even if you are charged with reckless driving by speed, the officer may have a problem with verifying the calibration of his radar. Code § 46.2-882 provides that calibrations are only valid for six months. There may also be a problem if the officer tries to bring a copy of the calibration to court. Code § 8.01-391(B) states that a true copy must be authenticated by a custodian and contain a certificate stating the custodian has custody. A photocopy may not be enough here.Defenses also exist to a charge of general reckless driving. The Commonwealth will have to prove evidence of actual reckless behavior. Case law establishes that it is not enough that you simply had an accident. Crest v. Commonwealth, 40 Va. App. 165, 174, 578 S.E.2d 88, 92 (2003).
The case of Powers v. Commonwealth, 211 Va. 386, 177 S.E.2d 628 (1970) illustrates how the Commonwealth must prove actual driving for a conviction under the general reckless driving statute. The defendant’s car was found wrecked after having been driven for less than a mile. The car was found in a ditch on the side of the highway, with the defendant in a ditch on the opposite side. The car was out of control for over 900 feet. The Commonwealth argued that from these facts reckless driving could be inferred, but the court disagreed. The court noted the record contained no evidence as to the car’s speed or as to how the accident happened. The court reversed the conviction.
In many cases where an acquittal may not be feasible, it may be possible to reduce your charge to improper driving. Code § 46.2-869 states that where a person is charged with reckless driving, but “the degree of culpability is slight, the court in its discretion may find the accused not guilty of reckless driving but guilty of improper driving.” Improper driving is only a traffic infraction and carries a maximum of a $500 fine.
In arguing any mitigation issues, we may inform the court about other factors favorable to your case. These may include: a good driving record, an incorrect speedometer reading, a legitimate emergency, or any other factors peculiar to your case.
If you have a reckless driving charge, contact Hull Street Law today!
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Hull Street Law
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Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 230-4200 x 110
The facts and circumstances of each case are unique and therefore the fact that a law firm has obtained significant verdicts and results in other cases in no way guarantees that other cases will have similar results.
The materials are prepared for information purposes only. The materials are not legal advice and you should not act upon the information without seeking the advice of an attorney. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship.