Getting a traffic ticket is something that happens at least once to nearly every driver. Even the most cautious, careful, and defensive drivers may slip up and fail to notice a traffic sign, or inadvertently let their speed creep above the posted limit. For some drivers, however, the flashing lights in their rearview mirrors indicate that more than a traffic ticket is coming. It could mean that their careless driving action is about to bring a reckless driving charge.
Reckless driving is not a simple traffic infraction; it is a criminal misdemeanor in Spotsylvania that carries the potential for a year in jail among other penalties and restrictions.
If you are charged with reckless driving in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, finding a Spotsylvania reckless driving lawyer is crucial for protecting you from unnecessary conviction and for preserving your driving privileges.
The Code of Virginia defines reckless driving in § 46.2-852 through § 46.2-865 of the state statutes. In general, the law defines reckless driving as follows:
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 (§ 46.2-852).
This general definition is somewhat vague. It does not explicitly outline prohibited actions, which allows an arresting officer to make a determination of reckless driving based on his or her subjective opinion as to what types of driving are dangerous. However, while this broad definition makes it easy for an officer to make an arrest, it also provides fuel for a strong defense.
Though reckless driving in general is broadly defined, there are several actions explicitly forbidden in the subsequent sections of the reckless driving statutes:
Of the enumerated offenses, speeding is perhaps the most common and most frequently cited traffic violation that leads to a reckless driving charge.
If a driver is speeding within 20 miles per hour of the posted limit, he or she will likely receive a costly traffic ticket. Under certain conditions, however, speeding can lead to a misdemeanor reckless driving charge.
Whether you failed to notice the posted limits, inadvertently drifted to speeds greater than 80 miles per hour on state highways, or simply drove in a manner that police determined to be too fast for weather, traffic, or road conditions, there are options available for your traffic defense.
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, a criminal charge with the potential for jail time upon conviction. It is a Class I misdemeanor (see § 18.2-11(a)), the most serious misdemeanor classification, and as such, it is in the same category as other crimes that many would consider more serious: DUI, simple drug possession in some instances, and assault and battery, among others. It also the same maximum jail sentence and fine as other Class I misdemeanors. Virginia reckless driving penalties include:
Fine of up to $2,500
If you have been charged with reckless driving, you do not have the option to simply mail in a fine, as you do with most traffic tickets. Rather, you must appear in court–most likely the Spotsylvania General District Court located at 9111 Courthouse Road in Spotsylvania. In handling any court proceeding, it is advisable to have representation from an experienced attorney, and traffic cases are no exception.
In fact, a Spotsylvania reckless driving lawyer may be empowered to appear on your behalf, a benefit that is especially helpful to out-of-state drivers charged under Virginia’s tough traffic laws.
With a skillful defense, your attorney may be able to have your case dismissed or reduced to a traffic infraction. One of the infractions often cited in reckless driving cases that are charged as the result of an accident or other non-speeding related driving behavior is improper driving. “Improper Driving” is punishable by a maximum fine of $500, much less than the possible penalties of misdemeanor conviction, and a citation does not trigger a criminal record.
To find an attorney capable of handling your defense, contact the Virginia law offices Karin Riley Porter Attorney at Law at (703) 957-7575 or (888) 415-8090 for a free consultation.
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