HOW RECKLESS IS RECKLESS DRIVING?


And the answer Alex is, “What is 80 mph”. The changes over time on our interstate highways in Virginia, to speed limits ranging from 55 mph to 65 mph and even to 70 mph, have left some drivers confused as to just how much trouble they can get into when they fail to pay attention to the speed limit. The confusion was brought home recently by a client who was traveling on Interstate 95 heading through Emporia. The speed limit was 70 mph and, according to the kindly state trooper that stopped him, he was traveling at 81 mph. To my client’s shock and surprise, the trooper handed him a traffic summons citing him with Reckless Driving. He was ready for the speeding ticket for driving 11 miles over the limit, but knew he wasn’t driving recklessly. So here he was, in my office, afraid he was going to jail.

Yes, jail. In Virginia, Reckless Driving is an offense which is a Class 1 misdemeanor[1] and CAN be punished by up to 12 months in jail and/or up to a $2,500.00 fine[2].

So here is the end to the confusion. Most drivers in Virginia know that Reckless Driving occurs when you are traveling in excess of 20 mph over the posted speed limit. The same Code section, however includes a catch-all of driving over 80 mph as reckless driving REGARDLESS OF THE SPEED LIMIT. In addition, a separate Code Section (46.2-862) provides that you can be charged with Reckless Driving if you are exceeding a reasonable speed for the circumstances and traffic conditions, again REGARDLESS OF THE SPEED LIMIT. And if that doesn’t make you pay attention, there are 17 OTHER STATUTES that cause certain behavior to be charged as Reckless Driving. (46.2-861)

So for those of you who might be of a mind to say, “Well I’m willing to pay the speeding ticket” for doing 82 mph in a 65 or 70 mph zone, get ready for trouble, because the Commonwealth of Virginia is not kidding around!

If you have been charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia, you have a right to be represented by a lawyer, and YOU SHOULD EXERCISE THAT RIGHT. Call an attorney now, so that you will know best how to answer and defend these charges when you make your court appearance.

[1] § 46.2-868. Reckless driving; penalties. — A. Every person convicted of reckless driving under the provisions of this article is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

[2] § 18.2-11. Punishment for conviction of misdemeanor. — 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.

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