Loudoun County Reckless Driving Attorney
For many, the phrase “reckless driving” is associated with road rage, evading police in a car chase, and other forms of dangerous or aggressive driving, but in the Commonwealth of Virginia, many common, thoughtless, and careless mistakes are considered reckless driving. In Virginia, the law actually considers many simple traffic infractions to be criminal. For example, speeding in Virginia can lead to misdemeanor charges on your record and serious penalties, far beyond a mere citation. If a seemingly simple traffic violation has resulted in criminal charges for reckless driving, contacting a Loudoun reckless driving lawyer should be your first move. With experience, skillful representation, you may be able to avoid hefty fines, license suspension, driving restrictions, jail time, and a criminal record that can follow you for many years to come. Or, here is more information on other charges in Loudoun County.
Reckless Driving Offenses
The Virginia Criminal Code addresses the subject of reckless driving and the associated punishment and penalties as a crime against health and safety under Section 46.2-852 through Section 46.2-865. Here, reckless driving is defined as:
Section 46.2-852. Reckless driving; general rule.
“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.”
Because the basic definition gives no specific details regarding what driving characteristics or traffic violations constitute an “endangerment to life, limb, or property of any person,” the subjective opinion of the arresting highway patrol or law enforcement officer is enough to leave you fighting criminal charges. If the officer considers your driving to be reckless, you may be charged with a misdemeanor offense which is punishable by up to twelve months in jail, along with a host of other penalties. A Loudoun County reckless driving lawyer can assist you getting the charges dismissed or reduced (e.g., to a speeding ticket).
The code later breaks down some specific violations which additionally constitute reckless driving. Among such traffic violations are:
- Section 46.2-853. Driving vehicle which is not under control; faulty brakes
- Section 46.2-854. Passing on or at the crest of a grade or on a curve
- Section 46.2-855. Driving with driver’s view obstructed or control impaired
- Section 46.2-856. Passing two vehicles abreast
- Section 46.2-857. Driving two abreast in a single lane
- Section 46.2-858. Passing at a railroad grade crossing
- Section 46.2-859. Passing a stopped school bus
- Section 46.2-860. Failing to give proper signals
- Section 46.2-861. Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions
- Section 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit
- Section 46.2-863. Failure to yield right-of-way
- Section 46.2-864. Reckless driving on parking lots, etc.
- Section 46.2-865. Racing
Penalties for Reckless Driving
A person convicted of reckless driving is typically guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $2,500, up to 12 months in jail, 6 demerit points accredited to the offender’s driving record, and license suspension for up to 6 months. Furthermore, this severe traffic violation will remain upon the driver’s record for 11 years, potentially affecting insurance premiums, future employment options, and more. Your Loudoun reckless driving lawyer can try to get your charges reduced to a lesser traffic infraction, rather than reckless driving.
If the person convicted of reckless driving committed the offense while driving on a suspended license for the reason of a moving violation, or if the convicted caused the death of another as the result of his or her reckless driving practices, then he or she is guilty of a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a license suspension up to 3 years, probation, and a maximum fine of $2,500.
Aggressive Driving and Improper Driving
Skilled legal defense may be able to help you receive a reduction in charges if a dismissal of charges is not an option. There are two lesser levels of driving charges in the Virginia Criminal Code, known as aggressive driving (Section 46.2-868.1) and improper driving (Section 46.2-869).
According to the code, a person may be guilty of aggressive driving if he or she violates one or more of the following:
- Driving on the right side of the highway
- Failure to observe lanes marked for traffic
- Following too closely
- Entering certain highways without stopping or yielding right-of-way
- Evasion of traffic control devices
- Passing when overtaking a vehicle
- Stopping on a highway
One might also be found guilty of aggressive driving if he or she is a hazard to another person or if he or she is driving so as to harass, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. An aggressive driving charge is punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor, unless he or she is driving with the intent to injure another person, in which case the charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 2 misdemeanor conviction carries a lesser jail term of up to 6 months and a maximum fine of $1,000.
According to the code, a reckless driving offense may be reduced to improper driving if the degree of culpability is deemed slight. In such a case, the court may find the accused not guilty of reckless driving, but guilty, instead, of improper driving. Also, at any time, the prosecuting attorney for the Commonwealth may reduce the charge to improper driving, notifying the court of such change. This traffic infraction is punishable by a maximum fine of $500.
Advantages of a Loudoun County Reckless Driving Lawyer
If you are facing reckless driving charges in Loudoun County, you need to obtain the services of a skilled Loudoun reckless driving lawyer. You need someone who is experienced in cases of reckless driving and competent in defending against the strict penalties of Virginia’s traffic laws. Armed with the knowledge that comes from having successfully represented clients accused of reckless driving in various Virginia courts, Steve Duckett may be able to negotiate a lesser charge for your offense or prove to the court that you are not guilty of criminal driving. Call today to schedule a free consultation.