The unofficial beginning of fall is often marked by Labor Day holiday weekend. College students move from across the country, or from their parents’ homes, back to the dorms or student housing, campus bookstores are filled with students ready to purchase reading materials, and barbecues are fired up for the final cookout of the season. In the midst of all of the back-to-school and holiday chaos, however, comes a dangerous traffic situation that can be made worse by drinking, road rage, and speeding. The combination of traffic, high-stress and hurried drivers is a recipe for potential injuries and reckless driving charges.
Hamptonroads.com reports that this year was particularly brutal in terms of highway fatalities over the Labor Day holiday weekend in Virginia. Nine people were killed in fatal car crashes over the weekend. Last year there were six deaths on Virginia roads over the holiday weekend. In addition to the deaths, Virginia State Police wrote 11,204 reckless driving speeding tickets for a total of 2,464 motorists, and there were over 600 motor vehicle accidents throughout the state. While reports show that this year has been a less fatal year in terms of motor vehicle accidents in Virginia overall, the holiday weekend had its fair share of driving offenses.
Reckless Driving in Virginia
Reckless driving is a serious charge in Virginia, and Virginia drivers should be aware of the penalties and consequences of a reckless driving conviction. Reckless driving, as a criminal offense, can be penalized by severe fines, license revocation, and, in some especially serious cases, imprisonment.
Under Code of Virginia 46.2-852, reckless driving is generally defined as driving a vehicle on any highway recklessly, or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger another person or his or her property. However, in addition to this general rule, Virginia law proscribes a variety of conduct that also constitutes reckless driving. For example, a person may be charged with reckless driving if he or she drives with faulty brakes, passes at a railroad grade crossing, passes a stopped school bus, or fails to give the proper driving signals. Therefore, as a general rule, it is important to remember that reckless driving is really conduct that endangers the life or limb of another person, even if the driver is not speeding.
In addition to fines, penalties, and possible jail time, reckless driving convictions stay on a driver’s permanent driving record for a number of years. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website provides a list of years that a particular reckless driving conviction will stay on a driver’s record. For example, a reckless driving charge for speeding in excess of 80 miles per hour will stay on a driver’s record for 11 years, as will most reckless driving charges. A reckless driving charge for driving more than 20 miles per hour above the posted limit will stay on a driver’s record for five years. In addition to staying on a driver’s record, demerit points are also assigned to the record for traffic convictions that occurred out of state.
Reckless driving is no joke in Virginia. Whether a driver is rushing to a class, hurrying to move, or just wants to party, he or she must remember the severe penalties and consequences that his or her driving may bring, for speeding or otherwise driving dangerously. If you have been charged with reckless driving, you should immediately speak to an experienced attorney. Contact Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.
About James D. Garrett
J.D. Garrett is a criminal law attorney in the Virginia Beach office of Garrett Law Group, PLC. He has years of experience representing clients in the courts of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and surrounding areas.