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A reckless driving charge in Virginia is far from a minor inconvenience. It’s a major legal issue that could dramatically affect your life. Unlike a simple speeding ticket, reckless driving is a criminal offense. If you’re caught and convicted, the consequences are severe. The Virginia Beach criminal defense attorneys at Pincus Goodman, P.C., have significant experience with these cases and can help protect your rights during this trying time. In this blog, we’ll lay out the penalties for reckless driving in Virginia to help you understand the gravity of this offense.
Virginia’s Definition of Reckless Driving
The Code of Virginia defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle in a manner that threatens someone else’s property, safety, or life. Some common acts that fall under this definition include speeding, making aggressive turns or lane changes, etc. However, you should also know that some specific offenses can lead to a reckless driving charge. These offenses include:
- Passing a stopped school bus that is picking up or dropping off students
- Driving too fast for the current weather or traffic conditions
- Failing to yield the right-of-way when required (in certain circumstances)
- Racing another driver
- Going more than 20 mph over the posted limit or going faster than 85 mph on most highways
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Virginia
In Virginia, reckless driving is usually a Class 1 misdemeanor, the highest level of misdemeanor you can face. The penalties could include a jail sentence of up to one year, a hefty fine of as much as $2,500, and losing your driver’s license for six months.
But the consequences don’t stop there. A reckless driving conviction will almost certainly skyrocket your insurance premiums, making your financial future much less secure. Plus, you’ll be racking up four to six points on your driver’s license. These points could seriously jeopardize your driving privileges, depending on your situation.
In certain scenarios, reckless driving can escalate to a felony charge. This happens if your reckless driving causes injury or death to someone else. The penalty for a felony reckless driving conviction is up to five years in prison, on top of all the other penalties we’ve already covered.
Defenses to Reckless Driving Charges
A reckless driving charge in Virginia is a serious matter. But remember: A charge is not the same as a conviction. You and your attorney can employ various defense strategies to challenge the charge. Here are some approaches to consider:
Challenge the Accuracy of Evidence
Police officers often use radar or laser devices to measure speed. These devices are not foolproof and require regular calibration to ensure accuracy. Your attorney could request maintenance records for the device used in your case. If it wasn’t calibrated correctly, the speed reading—and hence the reckless driving charge—could be disputed.
Prove the Necessity of Your Actions
In some instances, you could argue that your actions, while potentially reckless, were necessary to prevent harm. For example, if you swerved dangerously to avoid hitting a pedestrian or another car, proving this in court might lessen your charge or penalties.
Examine the Road Conditions
Sometimes, the road conditions themselves contribute to a driving incident that appears reckless. Slippery roads, obscured signage, or other external factors might have affected your driving behavior. Evidence of these conditions might be used to dispute the charge.
Scrutinize the Legal Definition
The Virginia legal code has specific requirements for what constitutes reckless driving. For instance, you must be driving in a way that endangers life, limb, or property. Your attorney can examine the details of your case to see if your actions genuinely meet this definition.
Contact Our Virginia Beach Reckless Driving Lawyers Today
It’s crucial to treat a reckless driving charge in Virginia with the seriousness it deserves. By hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you can take proactive steps to safeguard your rights and avoid the worst possible penalties. The Virginia Beach reckless driving attorneys at Pincus Goodman, P.C., stand ready to guide you through this difficult chapter. Call (757) 301-9634 now or complete our contact form for a confidential consultation.