Drivers in Virginia could face a surprise criminal case

On Behalf of | May 18, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Residents of the Alexandria area and those who visit Northern Virginia probably know that if they are caught driving under the influence, they will face criminal penalties under Virginia law.

The same is true for other flagrantly bad driving, like street racing for example.

What some might not realize is that even behavior that most would call a mistake or careless is under Virginia law criminal reckless driving. Here are a few examples of what Virginia prosecutors and police can legally treat as reckless driving:

  • Failing to use a turn signal
  • Driving without maintaining control of one’s vehicle or with bad brakes
  • In some cases, improper passing
  • Exceeding 85 miles per hour or going 20 miles per hour over the posted limit
  • In some cases, failing to yield
  • Driving too fast for the conditions, no matter the posted speed limit

Also, if a person is responsible for even a minor accident, they could easily face a reckless driving charge. This is because reckless driving includes any behavior that endangers another person’s property, including their vehicle.

In Virginia, reckless driving is a misdemeanor. This means in theory, a person can go to jail for, say, driving a little too fast in the rain and causing a fender-bender.

Even if a prosecutor takes jail off the table, the person still has to deal with a mandatory fine and a criminal conviction on their record. They may also face professional or financial fallout, especially if they drive for a living.

Options may be available for Virginians, visitors accused of reckless driving

There may be options for those accused of reckless driving.

For example, he law gives prosecutors leeway to reduce a charge to what is called improper driving, which is a non-criminal traffic ticket. For those who want to resolve a charge, other options short of a criminal conviction may be available to them.

It is also important to remember that, as with any criminal case, the police and prosecutor must prove their charge in court.