Irrespective of the maximum speed 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. In practical terms, this means that any time an officer observes dangerous driving behavior and in most cases when an officer encounters an accident, he or she has the ability to charge the individual under the general reckless statute. If you are accused or charged, it is therefore important you consult with a Prince William reckless driving lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and how to proceed. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.
The officer has the discretion to charge an individual under the general reckless statute if he or she believes that the driving behavior presented a danger to the life, limb or property of someone else—even when it doesn’t fall under one of the other categories. Of course, it’s going to be up to a judge in the end to decide whether the behavior actually threatened life, limb or property. But officers do in fact have the discretion to bring this charge under any circumstances in which they think there is dangerous driving.
This kind of reckless driving is very commonly charged and is second only to reckless speeding in terms of frequency. General reckless driving is charged in almost every accident case and can be charged in all kinds of circumstances. Some examples include an officer observing someone spinning his or her tires and someone taking a turn too wide and going up on a curve.
What an attorney will do to assist you with this will depend greatly on the facts of the case. It’s helpful to have a lawyer under these circumstances because if an individual is convicted, the charge will be applied to his or her permanent criminal record. In more extreme cases, it can even result in jail time or a license suspension of up to six months.
The officer’s opinion is not going to matter at trial. Rather, the facts that they heard, saw, or otherwise observed are going to be primarily what a court is going to rely on.
This kind of evidence can be challenged by cross-examining the officer over what exactly he or she saw, what he or she might be assuming, any incorrect opinions that he or she might be professing and the opportunity that he or she had to fully appreciate the situation.
In addition, in these kinds of cases, it may be advisable for you as the defendant to testify in order to present your side of the story as well as to inform the judge of any mitigating evidence.
General reckless driving is different than other types of reckless driving in that the burden of proof is different in this case. while the other kinds of reckless driving involve specific kinds of behavior, general reckless is broader and gives the court the discretion to find someone guilty under any circumstance in which it believes that driving behavior endangered life, limb or property. In other words, there’s a broader spectrum of the kinds of evidence and behavior that might come into play in a case like this.
But with that greater discretion also comes the ability to argue that there were good reasons for the driving, or that the driving was not in fact reckless and that there is some other explanation for it.
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