Fauquier Reckless Driving Attorney
If you are pulled over in Virginia, you may be expecting a warning or a minor traffic ticket. However, depending on the reason for the traffic stop, you could actually find yourself charged as a criminal for reckless driving. Reckless driving is a Class I misdemeanor that carries the potential for heavy fines, jail time, and a criminal record if convicted.
If you have been charged with reckless driving in Fauquier County, Virginia, contact a reckless driving defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your driving privileges, your livelihood, and your freedom could be at stake.
Reckless Driving Penalties
Reckless driving is more than a traffic infraction; it is a Class I misdemeanor under Virginia criminal law. As a Class I misdemeanor, reckless driving is in the same classification as crimes including trespassing, stalking, assault and battery, and DUI. Though people charged with reckless driving seldom have any criminal intent, the consequences are steep: a fine of up to $2,500, a maximum of one year in jail, and up to six months driver’s license suspension.
In addition, a Virginia reckless driving conviction earns you six demerit points against your license, and it remains on your DMV driving record for eleven years. Because of the potential penalties associated with conviction, hiring a a Fauquier reckless driving lawyer to handle your case is typically your best course of action.
Virginia Reckless Driving Laws
What driving actions warrant the harsh penalties described above? In most cases, common traffic violations such as speeding, illegal passing, or failure to yield are at the root of reckless driving charges. In some cases, overtly aggressive driving including high speed or racing may be to blame, but frequently, charges are the result of simple inattention to one’s speed or to traffic signs and signals.
Reckless driving is explained in §46.2-852 through §46.2-865 of the Virginia statutes:
§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.
While the general rule for reckless driving is somewhat vague and subjective, subsequent sections of the criminal code prohibit specific driving actions:
- § 853 – Driving without proper control or with faulty brakes
- § 854 – Passing on or a curve or at the crest of a hill
- § 855 – Driving with an obstructed view or impaired control
- § 856 – Passing two vehicles abreast
- § 857 – Driving two abreast in a single lane
- § 858 – Passing at a railroad crossing
- § 859 – Passing a stopped school bus
- § 860 – Failure to properly signal
- § 861 – Driving too fast for conditions
- § 862 – Speeding
- § 863 – Failure to yield right of way
- § 864 – Driving recklessly in a parking lot
- § 865 – Racing
Many of the reckless driving statutes use ambiguous language, such as “improper” or “unreasonable.” These broad definitions allow a traffic enforcement officer to lodge a criminal complaint on the basis of subjective evidence. While the subjective nature of the statutes may make it easy for an officer to make an arrest, it also offers reckless driving lawyers an opportunity for defense.
Speeding is probably the most common traffic violation and the most frequent cause of reckless driving charges. Though exceeding the speed limit by only a few miles per hour will generally result in a traffic ticket, there are situations in which excessive speed is a criminal misdemeanor:
§ 46.2-861. Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions. A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.
§46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit. 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.
Whether you have been charged with speed-related reckless driving as a result of driving faster than the posted limit or driving too fast for conditions, a knowledgeable attorney can help you explore options for your defense.
Effective Reckless Driving Defense
With a typical traffic infraction, a driver simply pays the fine and goes about his or her business. This pay-it-and-forget-it approach does not work in reckless driving cases, however. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, and a guilty plea brings about criminal penalties and a criminal record.
If you are charged with reckless driving, you must appear in court, although your defense attorney may be empowered to appear on your behalf. With skillful defense, your lawyer may be able to have the case against you dismissed or have your criminal charge reduced to a traffic infraction.
If you are charged with reckless driving in Fauquier County, whether you are driving near Warrenton on Route 17 or 29, or traveling through the northern end of the county on Interstate 66 near Markham, Linden or Marshall, your case will be heard at the Fauquier County General District Court located at 6 Court Street in Warrenton. Be sure to leave your cell phone in the car and wear appropriate court attire.
To find out how a Fauquier reckless driving attorney with Karin Riley Porter Attorney at Law can help you, please call (703) 957-7575 or (888) 415-8090.