Reckless by impaired control or view applies when someone drives a vehicle when there are such number of persons in the front seat as to obstruct the view of the driver to the front or sides or to interfere with the driver’s control over the driving mechanism.
This charge might involve having too many people or too many things around you in the front seat, thus blocking your view of the side mirror or the rearview mirror. Alternatively, it might involve too many people sitting across the front bench, pushing the driver in a way that makes it difficult to operate the vehicle. If charged with these or any other instances of reckless driving it is imperative you consult with a Prince William County reckless driving lawyer as soon as possible as you are facing a criminal misdemeanor and not a simple traffic infraction.
The primary kind of evidence in control impaired or view obstructed cases will be what the officer observed when he or she pulled the vehicle over and encountered the driver. Most of these cases will be initiated by a police officer who observes a vehicle that appears to be overloaded with cargo or persons and the officer believes that the view—either through the windshield or the mirrors—is impaired or that the person’s ability to drive is impaired.
Preparing a defense for this includes being ready to cross-examine the officer to see what exactly was observed and what exactly the officer is able to remember on the day of court. Just because an officer believes that a person’s control or view was impaired doesn’t necessarily mean that it can be proven in court.
The charge isn’t tacked on in every case where there’s more than one person in a seat or where there’s an obstructed view of the mirror, but it often is. Whether it is going to be charged in a particular case will depend a lot on the disposition of the police officer at the time of the stop. In general, if someone does have a mirror obstructed and certainly if more than one mirror is obstructed, this increases the likelihood of a control impaired or view obstructed charge. Similarly, if a person is driving a vehicle with a bench seat in the front and there are more individuals seated than there are seatbelts, that certainly increases the likelihood that the driver will be charged.
The main difference between a control impaired or view obstructed charge and reckless by speed charge involves the proof that the government will have to bring forward at trial. In a reckless speeding case, the government will have to prove how fast you were going using your radar devices. However, in a control impaired or view obstructed case, the government will have to prove that the vehicle was loaded in such a way that it impinged upon the driver’s ability to properly control the vehicle.
This proof will come in the form of testimony, typically by a police officer, which will describe the circumstances inside the driver’s area of the vehicle and often will also describe the driving behavior, if any, which the police officer alleges resulted from that overloaded or obstructed-view condition.
This kind of charge can definitely impact commercial driver’s license. It is a form of reckless driving, which is a class 1 misdemeanor that puts six points on an individual’s license. In many cases, a conviction under this statute will result in the revocation or the suspension of a commercial driver’s license. In preparing a case like this, it is critically important for a CDL holder to review his or her driving record with an attorney in order to mitigate against any impact that this kind of charge might have on the CDL and hopefully remove any risk of a suspended or revoked license.
There are not any technical legal excuses for either having your view obstructed or being loaded up in such a way that interferes with your ability to control the vehicle. That said, under certain circumstances where there is an emergency or a necessity of some kind, you may be able to demonstrate to the court that there is some equitable reason to either dismiss the case or reduce the charge based on the circumstances.
Attaching an overloaded sticker and having your caution lights on do not offer a legal excuse for having obstructed mirrors or having your vehicle loaded in a way that makes you unable to control it. Under certain circumstances, under regulations which are promulgated by the Virginia state police, a vehicle may be able to skirt the requirements that it be of a certain size or have a certain role. But this is not related to the reckless driving charge that is found under 46.2-855. Rather, these considerations refer to the load requirements and the size requirements of commercial vehicles on the highway.
Pre-trial steps in a control impaired or view obstructed case will include taking photographs of the driver area of your vehicle, particularly if it is possible to recreate the circumstances that existed during the stop or if the vehicle still exists under those circumstances.
Preparing for trial also includes being ready to cross-examine the officer and understand what he or she is going to be testifying to in court. In addition, there are steps that a person can take to mitigate in this kind of case. This can include taking a driver improvement course. It can also include making changes to the configuration of the passenger or driver areas of the vehicle to make it safer, usually by removing any remaining obstructions that either interfere with the driver’s line of site or otherwise make it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle.
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