When most people think of reckless driving, they imagine someone traveling well over the speed limit. However, Virginia law allows officers to charge you with reckless driving if they feel you're traveling too fast for the weather conditions—even if you're driving several miles under the posted speed limit.
Defending Against a Weather-Related Reckless Driving Charge
Virginia's reckless driving statute states, "A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit."
Reckless driving charges related to weather conditions are most common if an accident is involved and the officer feels that speed was a factor. However, the words "reasonable" and "under the circumstances" leave ample room for interpretation. Don’t assume you have no case even if you were determined to be at fault for the accident.
Although all drivers have a duty to exercise caution in adverse weather conditions, there isn't necessarily a set standard as to what this means. A weather-related reckless defense could take into account factors such as:
- Road conditions
- Following distance of other vehicles
- Familiarity with roads
- A past driving record indicating safe driving behavior
- Emergency events that may be a mitigating factor, such as a medical emergency
Agreeing to attend defensive driving school or complete community service may also be used to reduce the penalties associated with the charge, but judges have some discretion in allowing these methods to be used as part of your defense.
Hiring Legal Representation
A reckless driving charge related to weather conditions is typically a misdemeanor. However, drivers can be charged with a felony if their behavior resulted in the death of another person.
Since both misdemeanor and felony reckless driving convictions can result in fines, jail time, and a criminal record that can affect your future employment prospects, obtaining skilled representation is essential. Virginia defense attorney Charles V. Hardenbergh is committed to helping drivers minimize the negative consequences of reckless driving charges. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.