RECKLESS DRIVING CHARGE IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA IN ALEXANDRIA

WHAT IS RECKLESS DRIVING?
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal charge in Virginia. If your speed was either 20 miles over the speed limit, or if you were speeding above 80 miles per hour, then your “speeding ticket” is likely a Virginia Uniform Summons for Reckless Driving. And so, what looks like a regular speeding ticket may be much more than just a lot of points on your driving record. Reckless Driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor under Virginia VA Code § 46.2-862 “Exceeding speed limit” – the same level of offense in Virginia as a DUI / DWI charge. That yellow ticket that you signed is actually an alternative version of an arrest for reckless driving. RECKLESS DRIVING ISN’T YOUR EVERYDAY SPEEDING TICKET.

CONSEQUENCES OF RECKLESS DRIVING
Reckless Driving is a very serious CRIMINAL offense and can result in serious consequences for purposes of civilian employment, getting into universities, government employment, obtaining / maintaining a security clearance, military (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force) punishment, admission to a state bar, law enforcement / police officer employment, and immigration and naturalization, amongst others.

FEDERAL V. VIRGINIA STATE
Reckless Driving is simply speeding along the GW Parkway in Alexandria, VA or any other Federal territory located in Virginia.
Federal territories where most people unknowingly get a reckless driving speeding ticket are: George Washington Parkway, Pentagon area, Quantico area, military bases, and other Northern Virginia Federal government facility locations.

Federal law punishes for Reckless Driving the way that it is defined in the Virginia code. The main differences are outlined below – and having a Federal offense on your criminal record is considered more consequential for purposes of your criminal record. As stated before, first thing that you should do after you get home is call a lawyer and discuss the details of your case. Your circumstances may make you eligible for various punishment reductions and charge reductions, and if you are really lucky, maybe even dismissal of the charge or a non-prosecution of the charge!

FEDERAL RECKLESS DRIVING PENALTIES
(1) up to 6 months in jail,
(2) suspension of your driver’s license / privileges,
(3) points on your driver’s license, and,
(4) up to a $5,000.00 fine.

WILL I GO TO JAIL FOR RECKLESS DRIVING?
It depends on your speed. Going above 90 MPH will make you a candidate. Driving above 100 MPH is a sure thing. In a famous case in 2006, a law student who was driving 126 MPH went to jail to 12 days (full story on Washington Post web site).

SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR MY RECKLESS DRIVING CHARGE?
While no one would plead guilty to a DUI / DWI (probably because it is a more popular or commercial crime) drivers unintentionally plead guilty to Reckless Driving, a crime of the same criminal magnitude as a DUI, on a much more frequent basis. Due to the serious nature of a VA Reckless Driving offense, it is important to fight the “ticket” for Reckless Driving in court, and not just pay it when you get home. The first thing that you should do after you get home is call a lawyer and discuss the details of your case. Your circumstances may make you eligible for various punishment reductions and charge reductions, and if you are really lucky, maybe even dismissal of the charge or a non-prosecution of the charge!

LIST OF ALL VARIATIONS OF THE VIRGINIA RECKLESS DRIVING OFFENSE

1) The most common charge is for “Reckless Driving by Speed.” This charge applies to speeding 20 miles over the speed limit and/or driving above 80 miles per hour in Virginia. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-862 and is explained above.

2) The second most common charge in Virginia is for “Reckless Driving Generally.” This charge applies to the manner of your driving and is evaluated by whether your driving manner endangered either a person or property. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-852.

3) “Reckless Driving – Driving vehicle which is not under control” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who drives a vehicle which is not under proper control or which has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-853.

4) “Reckless Driving – Passing on or at the crest of a grade or on a curve” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who, while driving a vehicle, overtakes and passes another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, on or approaching the crest of a grade or on or approaching a curve in the highway, where the driver’s view along the highway is obstructed, except where the overtaking vehicle is being operated on a highway having two or more designated lanes of roadway for each direction of travel or on a designated one-way roadway or highway. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-854.

5) “Reckless Driving – Driving with driver’s view obstructed or control impaired” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who drives a vehicle when it is so loaded, or when there are in the front seat such number of persons, as to obstruct the view of the driver to the front or sides of the vehicle or to interfere with the driver’s control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-855.

6) “Reckless Driving – Passing two vehicles abreast” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who passes or attempts to pass two other vehicles abreast, moving in the same direction, except on highways having separate roadways of three or more lanes for each direction of travel, or on designated one-way streets or highways. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-856.

7) “Reckless Driving – Driving two abreast in a single lane” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who drives any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, so as to be abreast of another vehicle in a lane designed for one vehicle, or drives any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, so as to travel abreast of any other vehicle traveling in a lane designed for one vehicle. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-857.

8 ) “Reckless Driving – Passing at a railroad grade crossing” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who overtakes or passes any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction at any railroad grade crossing or at any intersection of highways unless such vehicles are being operated on a highway having two or more designated lanes of roadway for each direction of travel or unless such intersection is designated and marked as a passing zone or on a designated one-way street or highway, or while pedestrians are passing or about to pass in front of either of such vehicles, unless permitted so to do by a traffic light or law-enforcement officer. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-858.

9) “Reckless Driving – Passing a stopped school bus” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and to remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-859.

10) “Reckless Driving – Failing to give proper signals” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who fails to give adequate and timely signals of intention to turn, partly turn, slow down, or stop. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-860.

11) “Reckless Driving – Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-861.

12) “Reckless Driving – Failure to yield right-of-way” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who fails to bring his vehicle to a stop immediately before entering a highway from a side road when there is traffic approaching on such highway within 500 feet of such point of entrance, unless (i) a “Yield Right-of-Way” sign is posted or (ii) where such sign is posted, fails, upon entering such highway, to yield the right-of-way to the driver of a vehicle approaching on such highway from either direction. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-863.

13) “Reckless Driving – Reckless driving on parking lots” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who operates any motor vehicle at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person: (1) On any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business property open to the public; or (2) On the premises of any industrial establishment providing parking space for customers, patrons, or employees; or (3) On any highway under construction or not yet open to the public. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-864.

14) “Reckless Driving – Racing” is another Reckless Driving charge. This charge applies to anyone driving in Virginia who engages in a race between two or more motor vehicles on the highways in the Commonwealth or on any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business property open to the public in the Commonwealth shall be guilty of reckless driving, unless authorized by the owner of the property or his agent. This is charged under Virginia VA Code Section 46.2-865. It is important to note the VA definition of racing, as police officers and lawyers alike tend to mistake speeding contests for actual racing as is defined by Virginia law. racing requires a pre-defined start point and pre-defined end point. Just because two cars are going very fast next to each other and trying to beat the other’s speed does not mean that in fact they are racing under this reckless driving code section.