Much to the shock of many non-Virginians traveling across Routes 7 or 340 in Clarke County, Virginia, a driver can be ticketed for “reckless driving” if they are clocked speeding twenty miles per hour (20+ MPH) over the speed limit (Va. Code § 46.2-862). Reckless driving is a criminal violation in Virginia, and unlike nearby states, cannot be expunged if a driver is convicted.
Police officers in Virginia cannot issue a ticket for improper driving, because only a judge or a Commonwealth Attorney (prosecutor) can reduce a ticket of reckless driving to improper driving.
So when a Virginia police officer is faced with the decision of what to ticket a driver who had been speeding more than twenty miles per hour (20+ MPH) over the speed limit, the officer may be inclined to issue the reckless driving ticket out of caution knowing that either the judge or a prosecutor can reduce it to improper driving at court. There are some situations, however, where a police officer may want to issue the reckless driving ticket because of other circumstances surrounding the ticket such as an impolite driver, an excessively high speed, children in the vehicle, or other dangerous circumstances warranting the risk of criminal penalties.
Aside from speeding, reckless driving can come in other forms such as:
- General reckless driving (any kind of conduct that constitutes driving in a manner that endangers life or property on a public highway) (Va. Code § 46.2-852);
- Driving a vehicle with faulty brakes or not under the driver's proper control (Va. Code § 46.2-853);
- Racing (Va. Code § 46.2-864);
- Passing a stopped and signaling school bus (Va. Code § 46.2-859); and
- Other forms of reckless driving as stated in Va. Code §46.2-852 et seq.
Regardless, reckless driving charges should not be ignored as they can cause a permanent criminal record for the driver. (That is right…needing to answer on applications requesting criminal records that you have been convicted of reckless driving.) Absent aggravating circumstances, they can often be negotiated to improper driving charges, which constitute traffic violations only. In some cases, the officer may not have sufficient evidence to support the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, and accordingly, the case may even be dismissed.
If you received a reckless driving ticket in Clarke County or Berryville, Virginia, contact me to set up a consultation to discuss what can be done to beat or otherwise negotiate the best resolution for your reckless driving charge.