Virginia Reckless Driving Accidents

If you were charged with reckless driving due to an accident, you are not alone. Learn about the charge and what defenses you might have.

Video Transcription

Hello, my name is Andrew Flusche and I’m a Virginia traffic attorney. If you were in an accident in Virginia and received a reckless driving charge, please know that you’re not alone.

In most accident cases in Virginia, where there is any kind of significant damage, someone is going to receive a ticket. In a lot of those cases, it’s going to be a reckless driving ticket, simply because in many cases there is not a specific traffic violation that the officers can point to and say, “Well, you did this wrong.”

So they charge you with the catch-all reckless driving. This is either under the ‘reckless general’ rule, which says that any person is guilty of reckless driving if they basically endanger life, limb, or property of anyone, or under the ‘reckless driving – failure to maintain control of your vehicle’ charge, which says that you’re guilty of reckless driving if you have inadequate brakes or if you just don’t maintain proper control of your car. So those two statutes are kind of catch-all statutes that can be used in an accident case.

You have to know, first of all, that the officer doesn’t have a lot of discretion. A lot of times it’s department policy or some other kind of policy to write the ticket, and a lot times there is just not anything else that applies other than reckless driving. So they are kind of stuck having to write that.

The judge though has a lot of discretion. There is one statute that the judge might be able to use called ‘improper driving’ and what that says is that any person who is charged with reckless driving, if it’s a minimal kind of case, the judge can reduce it to ‘improper driving’ and that’s just a low level traffic infraction. If you have a Virginia license, it’s only 3 points, the lowest level of points, and it goes away in 3 years. So it’s a very minimal offense to be convicted of.

But what does it mean to be charged with reckless driving for an accident? What that means is that the Commonwealth is going to have to prove that you were, in fact, reckless. There is a law in Virginia, under the Powers case, that simply says that the happening of an accident does not mean it is reckless driving. The Commonwealth has to point to something you did or didn’t do that you should have done showing you didn’t use ordinary care. So something that was either truly reckless, like driving crazy, or you neglected to do something that was reckless.

The law does recognize that accidents do happen and not every accident is someone’s criminal or traffic fault. Now, you still may be civilly liable, but that’s a whole other ball of wax. What we’re talking about is whether or not you can be found guilty of reckless driving or even improper driving. In a lot of accidents, a person might be charged with something, but the Commonwealth may simply not be able to prove what happened. Just because your car went off a county road late at night, that doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong. It might mean that there was something in the road that you tried to avoid. It could mean there was a mechanical defect in your vehicle. Both of those things wouldn’t necessarily be your fault and you may be able to be found not guilty.

It all depends on the facts of your case though, so it’s definitely something you want to talk with a traffic attorney about. If you have a case around Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, or Stafford, I’d love to talk to you about your reckless driving accident case.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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