What Is Reckless Driving in VA?
If you’re in a rush after a long day at work, it’s tempting to go a little faster on the road than you should. If your phone buzzes while you’re in the driver’s seat, there’s no harm in answering the text – right?
Not only are these behaviors dangerous, but they’re also illegal. Virginia police officers will issue any driver on the road caught violating roadway law a ticket, at a minimum. If your alleged behavior behind the wheel results in an accident, you may face misdemeanor or felony charges.
Fortunately, you can get ahead of reckless driving accusations. A criminal defense attorney can help you contest your charges.
What Is Reckless Driving?
Code of Virginia §46.2-852 defines reckless driving as behaviors that endanger both the active driver and other parties – drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists – on the road. More specifically, this behavior can include:
- Driving on bad breaks
- Driving with an overloaded vehicle
- Illegal passing
- Failing to signal
- Driving more than 20 miles an hour over the speed limit
- Drag racing
- “Burning rubber,” or spinning a car’s wheels
Using a cellphone or similar device while driving is also considered highly dangerous in Virginia. Parties caught violating Virginia’s handheld device law can face fines of up to $125 for the first offense and $250 for their second.
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What’s the Difference Between Reckless Driving and Negligent Driving?
While recklessness and negligence can both get you in trouble on the road, the two are considered to be different concepts. Recklessness involves the allegedly-deliberate decision to violate the duty of care you owe to other drivers. Comparatively, negligence involves a lapse in attention or unintentional carelessness.
For example, distracted driving can be considered roadway negligence but not reckless driving. Forgetting to signal can constitute negligence but not reckless endangerment. Even speeding can constitute negligence, so long as you’re going less than 20 miles an hour over the speed limit.
It’s only when your alleged behavior takes on an element of deliberate endangerment that the consequences grow direr. If you’re charged with roadway endangerment, you can work with a criminal defense attorney to determine whether or not your alleged behavior actually meets the definition of “reckless.”
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What Are the Consequences of Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Drivers accused of reckless behavior on the road in Virginia can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. If you don’t challenge these charges, you can face fines of up to $2,500 and jail time of up to a year. A Virginia court may also revoke your license for up to six months. These charges also add six points to your license.
Charges like racing come along with more severe consequences. Anyone accused of drag racing in Virginia can lose their license for up to two years after having their vehicles seized. Wrongful death accusations can see you face a class 6 felony. You can learn more about these consequences by referencing Code of Virginia §18.2-11.
While the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor may impact your immediate future, uncontested cases will always leave you with a criminal record. You’ll need to disclose your reckless driving charge to future employers and insurers. This means that it may be harder for you to get a job or comprehensive insurance coverage in the future.
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Can I Challenge Reckless Driving Charges?
You do have the right to challenge reckless driving charges. You can do so most effectively when you communicate with a car accident attorney. Professionals can guide you through the process of both bringing your charges into question and gathering evidence to prove your claim. Attorneys can even represent you in court.
In most cases, parties charged with reckless driving will be offered a plea. If you can contact an attorney prior to your plea date, you can determine whether or not the offer you’ve been made is worth accepting. If an attorney believes that you can fight your charges, you can go through the process of discovery and lead into a criminal trial.
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Should I Challenge Reckless Driving Charges?
If you have the help of a Virginia attorney, you should always challenge reckless driving charges. Charges that go unchallenged can stay on your license for up to eleven years. In turn, your insurance rates may rise, and you may even lose your license.
Comparatively, contesting these charges gives you the chance to remove them from your permanent record. In turn, you can keep your insurance rates low and maintain your legal status on the road.
If you’re not sure how to approach reckless driving charges, bring your ticket or other concerns to Christina Pendleton & Associates. We can help you determine what arguments might best suit your case.
When Should I Call a Criminal Defense Attorney?
To fight reckless driving charges in Virginia, you’ll need to call an attorney as soon as possible. Once you’ve set up an initial case consultation, attorneys can take over communications between yourself and any other parties involved in your case. With a professional at the helm, you can avoid the legal gaffs that might otherwise get you in trouble.
If you’re ready to contest car accident charges, let a criminal defense attorney in Virginia know. Together you can fight back against allegations of liability in court or throughout the negotiation process.
How Much Does Legal Representation Cost in a Reckless Driving Case?
“Reckless driving” covers a broad category of behaviors on the road. No two criminal defense cases are going to look the same. With that in mind, it’s difficult to predict how much the legal services you need may cost. The expenses associated with a criminal defense case can account for:
- An attorney’s experience
- Active clientele
- The complexity of your reckless driving charges
You can always discuss price in advance, though. Christina Pendleton & Associates offers free case consultations during which you can request more information about service fees. We’ll discuss how we can best represent you while sticking to your budget.
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