Virginia Reckless Driving Cases


Bernhard & Gardner has extensive criminal and traffic experience  and frequently handles reckless driving cases for our clientele. Reckless driving cases are among the most common cases in the Virginia courts and therefore many persons assume they will walk out of court with just a fine but may be surprised to receive a license suspension or even jail time for a first offense - we call it the RECKLESS DRIVING TRAP. For this reason we have added this page of general information to encourage you to seek a FREE NO OBLIGATION CONSULTATION with our lawyers before facing the reckless driving trap. We will give you an honest evaluation of your case and neither overcharge nor underserve you. Below we post answers to questions we are often asked about reckless driving charges in Virginia followed by applicable Virginia code sections and other useful information:

1.  Do I always need a lawyer for a Virginia Reckless Driving charge?

While it is generally preferable to be represented by a lawyer in such cases, there is a trade-off between cost and potential benefit of representation. For example, our fees in basic Reckless-Speed cases in Fairfax County, Prince William, Loudoun, and Alexandria begin at $800.00 for a first offense in General District Court depending upon the facts of the case. Subsequent offenses or cases outside of the Northern Virginia area may cost more. If your speed is just slightly over the limit for such offense, the risk of jail time and a license suspension may be substantially diminished. We will evaluate your case and give you an honest opinion as to what we may be able to do for you without overstating the case, so that you may determine whether our services are worth the expenditure. Since most lawyers will provide a free initial consultation you may want to compare price and service by contacting more than one lawyer to evaluate your case. You may want to ask other lawyers about our reputation for trend-setting competence among a number of lawyers in the field.

2. Why are your fees substantially lower than many other lawyers and does that mean I will get less service?

It is an open secret in the legal profession that high fees do not necessarily assure a high level of service. Some of the most capable lawyers don't charge exhorbitant fees. From its inception, Bernhard & Gardner has had a business model of providing the highest possible service at reasonable cost. Reckless driving cases in particular tend not to be highly complex and resource intensive, and should not cause  you to pay an excessive fee. We are not in the business of selling an image but instead provide you with highly experienced and personalized service.

3.  What sort of defenses might you utilize in my case?

We cannot answer that question specifically without a careful evaluation of the facts of your case. If your case cannot be resolved by reaching an agreement advantageous under the circumstances, some of the defenses that lawyers sometimes use in reckless driving cases include but are not limited to:
1) Challenging reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop;
2) Challenging probable cause to detain;
3) Attacking the foundation for the admissibility of results from any instruments used such as radar, lidar or the speedometer of the police officer's vehicle;
4) Through effective cross-examination and presentation of witnesses, raising doubt that the driving rose to the level of endangering life, limb or property;
5) Argument that "the degree of culpability is slight" and that therefore the evidence rises to no greater than improper driving which carries a maximum penalty of $500;
6) Tailoring your defense presentation in the manner most effective for the particular judge hearing your case based on our long-standing familiarity with the practices of most judges in front of whom we appear.
In some cases where the Court has been unduly harsh in its sentence, it may also become necessary to appeal your General District Court case to Circuit Court within the 10 days allotted to do so and argue your case to a jury which at times achieves a better result in reckless driving cases.

4.  How can I get a rough idea as to what judges are doing with cases like mine?

Attorneys who regularly appear before the judges of the court in question can give you an idea of what is typically done. Another source of such information is for you to check the dockets of the particular court in question on any given day to determine what sort of sentences are being handed out in the jurisdiction (Click here to check General District Court sentencing information). This does not mean the judge will do what is typical in your case inasmuch as disposition of the case depends on numerous factors which are case-specific.

5.  How many points will the Court assess my license if I am convicted and should I go to a safe driving course before my court date?

The Court does not assess points. Points are assessed by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles depending upon the type of conviction. The DMV provides a web page addressing issues of points. You should however consult a lawyer for the most up-to-date information and whether it is a good idea to attend a safe driving course before court. One issue to keep in mind is that such a course will give you 5 good points toward your record. If your record is already good or excellent and contains any plus points, it may be a advisable depending on the case, to wait on taking such a course so that you may obtain the maximum positive benefit after any conviction inasmuch as such a course may generally only be taken once every two years.

6.  What different types of reckless driving are there?

See below for the various sections of the Virginia Code to review the one you might be charged with violating:

§ 46.2-852. Reckless driving; general rule. — 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.

§ 46.2-853. Driving vehicle which is not under control; faulty brakes. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a vehicle which is not under proper control or which has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes on any highway in the Commonwealth.

§ 46.2-854. Passing on or at the crest of a grade or on a curve. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who, while driving a vehicle, overtakes and passes another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, on or approaching the crest of a grade or on or approaching a curve in the highway, where the driver's view along the highway is obstructed, except where the overtaking vehicle is being operated on a highway having two or more designated lanes of roadway for each direction of travel or on a designated one-way roadway or highway.

§ 46.2-855. Driving with driver's view obstructed or control impaired. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a vehicle when it is so loaded, or when there are in the front seat such number of persons, as to obstruct the view of the driver to the front or sides of the vehicle or to interfere with the driver's control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle.

§ 46.2-856. Passing two vehicles abreast. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who passes or attempts to pass two other vehicles abreast, moving in the same direction, except on highways having separate roadways of three or more lanes for each direction of travel, or on designated one-way streets or highways. This section shall not apply, however, to a motor vehicle passing two other vehicles when one or both of such other vehicles is a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped; nor shall this section apply to a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped passing two other vehicles.

§ 46.2-857. Driving two abreast in a single lane. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, so as to be abreast of another vehicle in a lane designed for one vehicle, or drives any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, so as to travel abreast of any other vehicle traveling in a lane designed for one vehicle. However, this section shall not apply to any validly authorized parade, motorcade, or motorcycle escort, nor shall it apply to a motor vehicle traveling in the same lane of traffic as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped.

§ 46.2-858. Passing at a railroad grade crossing. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who overtakes or passes any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction at any railroad grade crossing or at any intersection of highways unless such vehicles are being operated on a highway having two or more designated lanes of roadway for each direction of travel or unless such intersection is designated and marked as a passing zone or on a designated one-way street or highway, or while pedestrians are passing or about to pass in front of either of such vehicles, unless permitted so to do by a traffic light or law-enforcement officer.

§ 46.2-859. Passing a stopped school bus; prima facie evidence. — A person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and to remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion. The driver of a vehicle, however, need not stop when approaching a school bus if the school bus is stopped on the other roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or on a driveway when the other roadway, access road, or driveway is separated from the roadway on which he is driving by a physical barrier or an unpaved area. The driver of a vehicle also need not stop when approaching a school bus which is loading or discharging passengers from or onto property immediately adjacent to a school if the driver is directed by a law-enforcement officer or other duly authorized uniformed school crossing guard to pass the school bus. This section shall apply to school buses which are equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090 and are painted yellow with the words "School Bus" in black letters at least eight inches high on the front and rear thereof. Only school buses which are painted yellow and equipped with the required lettering and warning devices shall be identified as school buses.
  The testimony of the school bus driver, the supervisor of school buses or a law-enforcement officer that the vehicle was yellow, conspicuously marked as a school bus, and equipped with warning devices as prescribed in § 46.2-1090 is prima facie evidence that the vehicle is a school bus.

§ 46.2-860. Failing to give proper signals. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who fails to give adequate and timely signals of intention to turn, partly turn, slow down, or stop, as required by Article 6 (§ 46.2-848 et seq.) of this chapter.

§ 46.2-861. Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.

§ 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.

§ 46.2-863. Failure to yield right-of-way. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who fails to bring his vehicle to a stop immediately before entering a highway from a side road when there is traffic approaching on such highway within 500 feet of such point of entrance, unless (i) a "Yield Right-of-Way" sign is posted or (ii) where such sign is posted, fails, upon entering such highway, to yield the right-of-way to the driver of a vehicle approaching on such highway from either direction.

§ 46.2-864. Reckless driving on parking lots, etc. — A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who operates any motor vehicle at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person:
   1. On any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business property open to the public; or
   2. On the premises of any industrial establishment providing parking space for customers, patrons, or employees; or
   3. On any highway under construction or not yet open to the public.

§ 46.2-865. Racing; penalty. — Any person who engages in a race between two or more motor vehicles on the highways in the Commonwealth or on any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business property open to the public in the Commonwealth shall be guilty of reckless driving, unless authorized by the owner of the property or his agent. When any person is convicted of reckless driving under this section, in addition to any other penalties provided by law the driver's license of such person shall be suspended by the court for a period of not less than six months nor more than two years. In case of conviction the court shall order the surrender of the license to the court where it shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of § 46.2-398.

§ 46.2-866. Racing; aiders or abettors. — Any person, although not engaged in a race as defined in § 46.2-865, who aids or abets any such race, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

7.  What are the potential penalties for Reckless Driving?

That generally depends on the type of conduct and charge involved and is therefore case-specific.  See the below potentially applicable penalty sections:

§ 46.2-341.20. Disqualification for multiple serious traffic violations. —  [Excerpt]
   A. For the purposes of this section, the following offenses, if committed in a commercial motor vehicle, are serious traffic violations:
   2. Reckless driving;
   B. Beginning September 30, 2005, the following offenses shall be treated as serious traffic violations if committed while operating a noncommercial motor vehicle, but only if (i) the person convicted of the offense was, at the time of the offense, the holder of a commercial driver's license; (ii) the offense was committed on or after September 30, 2005; and (iii) the conviction, by itself or in conjunction with other convictions that satisfy the requirements of this section, resulted in the revocation, cancellation, or suspension of such person's driver's license or privilege to drive.
   2. Reckless driving;
   C. The Department shall disqualify for the following periods of time, any person whose record as maintained by the Department shows that he has committed, within any three-year period, the requisite number of serious traffic violations:
   1. A 60-day disqualification period for any person convicted of two serious traffic violations; or
   2. A 120-day disqualification period for any person convicted of three serious traffic violations.
   D. Any disqualification period imposed pursuant to this section shall run consecutively, and not concurrently, with any other disqualification period imposed hereunder.

§ 46.2-865.1. Injuring another or causing the death of another while engaging in a race; penalties. —
   A. Any person who, while engaging in a race in violation of § 46.2-865 in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life:
   1. Causes serious bodily injury to another person who is not involved in the violation of § 46.2-865 is guilty of a Class 6 felony; or
   2. Causes the death of another person is guilty of a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one nor more than 20 years, one year of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.
   B. Upon conviction, the court shall suspend the driver's license of such person for a period of not less than one year nor more than three years, and shall order the surrender of the license to be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of § 46.2-398.
§ 46.2-866. Racing; aiders or abettors. — Any person, although not engaged in a race as defined in § 46.2-865, who aids or abets any such race, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
§ 46.2-867. Racing; seizure of motor vehicle. — If the owner of a motor vehicle (i) is convicted of racing such vehicle in a prearranged, organized, and planned speed competition in violation of § 46.2-865, (ii) is present in the vehicle which is being operated by another in violation of § 46.2-865, and knowingly consents to the racing, or (iii) is convicted of a violation of § 46.2-865.1, the vehicle shall be seized and disposed of in the manner provided in §§ 4.1-339 through 4.1-348 for seizure and forfeiture of conveyances or vehicles used in the illegal transportation of alcoholic beverages. Such sections shall apply mutatis mutandis.
   The penalties imposed by these sections are in addition to any other penalty imposed by law.

§ 46.2-867. Racing; seizure of motor vehicle. — If the owner of a motor vehicle (i) is convicted of racing such vehicle in a prearranged, organized, and planned speed competition in violation of § 46.2-865, (ii) is present in the vehicle which is being operated by another in violation of § 46.2-865, and knowingly consents to the racing, or (iii) is convicted of a violation of § 46.2-865.1, the vehicle shall be seized and disposed of in the manner provided in §§ 4.1-339 through 4.1-348 for seizure and forfeiture of conveyances or vehicles used in the illegal transportation of alcoholic beverages. Such sections shall apply mutatis mutandis.
   The penalties imposed by these sections are in addition to any other penalty imposed by law.

§ 46.2-868. Reckless driving; penalties. —
   A. Every person convicted of reckless driving under the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
   B. Every person convicted of reckless driving under the provisions of this article who, when he committed the offense, (i) was driving without a valid operator's license due to a suspension or revocation for a moving violation and, (ii) as the sole and proximate result of his reckless driving, caused the death of another, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

§ 46.2-868.1. Aggressive driving; penalties.
   A. A person is guilty of aggressive driving if (i) the person violates one or more of the following: § 46.2-802 (Drive on right side of highways), § 46.2-804 (Failure to observe lanes marked for traffic), § 46.2-816 (Following too closely), § 46.2-821 (Vehicles before entering certain highways shall stop or yield right-of-way), § 46.2-833.1 (Evasion of traffic control devices), § 46.2-838 (Passing when overtaking a vehicle), § 46.2-841 (When overtaking vehicle may pass on right), § 46.2-842 (Driver to give way to overtaking vehicle), § 46.2-842.1 (Driver to give way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highway), § 46.2-843 (Limitations on overtaking and passing), any provision of Article 8 (§ 46.2-870 et seq.) of Chapter 8 of Title 46.2 (Speed), or § 46.2-888 (Stopping on highways); and (ii) that person is a hazard to another person or commits an offense in clause (i) with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person.
   B. Aggressive driving shall be punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, aggressive driving with the intent to injure another person shall be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition to the penalties described in this subsection, the court may require successful completion of an aggressive driving program.

§ 46.2-869. Improper driving; penalty. — Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this article, upon the trial of any person charged with reckless driving where the degree of culpability is slight, the court in its discretion may find the accused not guilty of reckless driving but guilty of improper driving. However, an attorney for the Commonwealth may reduce a charge of reckless driving to improper driving at any time prior to the court's decision and shall notify the court of such change. Improper driving shall be punishable as a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $500.

§ 18.2-11. Punishment for conviction of misdemeanor. —  [Excerpt] The authorized punishments for conviction of a misdemeanor are:
   (a) For Class 1 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
   (b) For Class 2 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than six months and a fine of not more than $1,000, either or both.
   (c) For Class 3 misdemeanors, a fine of not more than $500.
   (d) For Class 4 misdemeanors, a fine of not more than $250.

§ 18.2-10. Punishment for conviction of felony; penalty. —  [Excerpt] The authorized punishments for conviction of a felony are:
   (e) For Class 5 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
   (f) For Class 6 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
   For any felony offense committed (i) on or after January 1, 1995, the court may, and (ii) on or after July 1, 2000, shall, except in cases in which the court orders a suspended term of confinement of at least six months, impose an additional term of not less than six months nor more than three years, which shall be suspended conditioned upon successful completion of a period of post-release supervision pursuant to § 19.2-295.2 and compliance with such other terms as the sentencing court may require. However, such additional term may only be imposed when the sentence includes an active term of incarceration in a correctional facility.

CONTACT US FOR THE ATTENTIVE AND COURTEOUS SERVICE THAT YOU DESERVE
* Disclaimer: You should consult one of our attorneys to determine your particular legal situation before relying on any information in this web site as a basis for  any decision, action or inaction on your part. Information provided on this page is a courtesy to our guests only. Bernhard & Gardner neither vouches for the accuracy of the information contained in the links nor has any financial interest in the dissemination thereof. Posting of a link herein, including but not limited to an advertisement, does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of the related site. The content of any website links posted on this page is the sole responsibility of the respective site's owner. Use of the herein links is at your risk and is conditioned upon waiver of any legal claim against this site or its owners.This web site may be considered ADVERTISEMENT MATERIAL under the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers in Virginia.This site is designed to provide general information only. Bernhard & Gardner provides services in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. only. The information displayed at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor constitute the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Privacy policy:  Bernhard & Gardner is committed to protecting the privacy of our visitors & clients. We will not sell or expose your identity to others.

© Copyright Bernhard & Gardner 2004-2013, All Rights Reserved.


  BERNHARD
            & GARDNER
 
                           Attorneys at Law
6105-D Arlington Blvd.
Falls Church, VA
22044
(703) 538-4710