Virginia Code §46.2-853 makes it unlawful to drive a vehicle that "has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes" on the highways of Virginia. The statute also prohibits driving a vehicle "not under proper control." The statute makes violation of the law Reckless Driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Punishment for the Misdemeanor Charge of Reckless Driving
Reckless Driving is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and loss of license for up to six months. The Court may order someone convicted of the charge into the Alcohol Safety Action Program if alcohol or drugs were factors that affected the driving behavior.
Drivers infrequently get active jail time for this offense; however, a conviction for the misdemeanor can result in a permanent criminal record, loss of the driving privilege and heavy fines. Drivers convicted of the charge may petition the court for a restricted license to drive for work, school, church, child care, and medical treatment if the license is suspended. Commercial Drivers License holders may not receive a restricted license if their license is suspended.
Because it is such a serious charge, the law office recommends that a person ticketed hire an attorney to help with the case. An experienced traffic lawyer can help clients obtain dismissal or reduction of the charge to a traffic infraction. This saves the client a criminal conviction on their permanent record, a six point demerit, and a Reckless Driving entry on their Virginia driving record for 11 years. The client may also avoid any loss of license and increased insurance rates.
Under What Circumstances is Reckless Driving - Faulty Brakes or Vehicle Not Under Control Ticketed?
This offense is routinely charged at accident scenes by officers. However, it may be charged in extreme instances of swerving, lane change, or tailgating where other vehicles are placed in danger. The existence of an accident is not required to charge someone with this offense. Any statements or admissions by the driver that the driver's brakes were faulty or there was swerving into other lanes of traffic can be used by the officer as evidence. Even a momentary lapse of attention while driving (picking up an item and not watching traffic) can result in this ticket being issued.
In most cases the person ticketed was in a Multi-vehicle accident. However, there are instances where this ticket is issued in single car accidents. The driver in these circumstances may have made no admissions or statements. There may also have been no eyewitnesses to the driving behavior. In these cases, the officer may completely lack evidence to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This is common in single car accidents where a person may collide with a tree, bushes, parking lot lights, etc. It also occurs in cases where there are conflicting accounts of what caused a multi-vehicle accident.
What Can a Client Expect to Happen in Court?
The law office obtains any information about the case by reviewing the accident report, speaking to the officer, and negotiating with the prosecutor prior to the case being heard by the judge. If there is insufficient evidence for the charge, the lawyer will argue for complete dismissal. It may be necessary to plead not guilty and contest the case directly with the judge. A General District Court judge will then decide on the merits of the case and decide guilt or innocence. A sentence will be imposed by the judge only if the person is found guilty, after consideration of the facts of the case, the driving record of the accused, and any mitigating evidence such as completion of a driver improvement course or community service.
Reductions to a lesser charge called a traffic infraction are also a possibility. The Virginia Code allows a Reckless Driving charge to be amended to Improper Driving, a traffic infraction with a fine of up to $500. It is a non-criminal offense and the Court may not impose a license suspension or jail time. This agreement may be made directly with a prosecutor and presented for entry to the judge without a trial. Improper Driving is a three point demerit conviction with the Virginia DMV and falls off the driving record after three years. It does not go on a criminal record.
The Reckless Driving charge may also be amended by agreement with the prosecutor to other Virginia traffic infractions. These include Defective Equipment, Failure to Obey a Highway Sign, or a county code violation of Failure to Pay Full Time and Attention (which does not go on the driving record). The maximum fine for these offenses is $250. The outcome of each case depends a great deal on the facts of the traffic stop, the degree of cooperation of the accused with the police, and the client's driving record.
Contact An Experienced Traffic Lawyer Today for Help in Fairfax County, Prince William County, and other Locations Throughout Virginia
The law office has 21 years of experience in the traffic courts of this state and can assist you with obtaining dismissal or reduction of your Reckless Driving case. Contact the law office for a free, initial consultation for help at 703-352-9044. The attorney is available for cases in Fairfax County (Herndon, Falls Church, Vienna, City of Fairfax), Prince William County (Quantico, Manassas, Woodbridge, Dumfries), Warren County, Loudoun County, the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Stafford County, and many other localities in the state. Please review the accomplished case results on this website and the generous client reviews contained on websites like Google and Findlaw. The lawyer will answer any questions you have about your case and present a clear strategy for defending the matter in court.