WHAT COUNTS AS RECKLESS DRIVING IN VIRGINIA

In recent years the enforcement of Virginia law has placed more emphasis on speeding, especially on roads and in cities, according to the Virginia State Police. Minor speeding infractions can be a nuisance, but once a driver has crossed over to reckless driving, the load and consequences can be very serious.

What counts as reckless driving in Virginia?

Reckless driving can be classified as crimes involving speeding, visibility, vehicle control and carelessness. In the speed category, reckless driving is driving at 20 mph over the speed limit or speeding at over 80 mph, which can also be considered racing. Driving too fast for current road conditions can also be considered reckless driving.

Currently, there are 13 different statutes on reckless driving in Virginia. They include:

  1. general recklessness,
  2. loss of control or driving with improperly adjusted brakes,
  3. passing over a hill or around a corner,
  4. driving with obstructed vision,
  5. passing two auto vehicles in a single lane,
  6. passing a stopped school or college bus,
  7. passing at a railroad grade crossing or intersection,
  8. driving too hastily for traffic conditions,
  9. failing to give reasonable signals,
  10. exceeding the speed limit,
  11. driving too fast for traffic conditions,
  12. not yielding the right-of-way, or
  13. driving “recklessly” on parking lots.

Each Inappropriate Management statute requires specific defenses. For example, below the section that counts as reckless driving in Virginia to pass a school bus, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. the driver did not stop or remain in custody when approaching a school bus; and
  2. that, in fact, the bus was school and that it was proceeding to unload or load passengers.

Under the section that qualifies for reckless driving with poorly adjusted brakes, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. the driver was not in control or had inadequate or incorrectly adjusted brakes; and
  2. walked the streets of Virginia.

As one can see, the elements of each kind of inappropriate handling can be substantially different and therefore require different defenses. The statutes on Inappropriate Management most commonly used in Virginia are the “general” statute, the “speed” statute, and the school bus statute.

The defense of the “general” statute is very intense in terms of the facts. This is because the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. the driver was driving at a speed or in such a way as to endanger the life, limbs or property of another; or
  2. handled “imprudently” – carelessness on the part of the driver about the consequences of their actions as well as an indifference to the safety of life, members or property.

Each of these cases is different. Visibility includes driving with obscured visibility or passing a car on the top of a hill. Expenses related to vehicle control include defective brakes or inadequate control of the vehicle. Finally, neglect implies the passage of emergency vehicles or school buses that are in service, the passage of vehicles at railroad crossings or driving two cars a day, or passing two vehicles that are running daily on roads that do not have several lanes. Giving inadequate or misleading signals also counts as reckless driving in Virginia.