In some circumstances, a skilled attorney may be able to assist you in reducing a reckless driving charge to improper driving. Since improper driving is a traffic violation, this avoids the stigma of a criminal conviction for misdemeanor reckless driving.
§ 46.2-869 Improper Driving; Penalty
Virginia code § 46.2-869 states, "Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this article, upon the trial of any person charged with reckless driving where the degree of culpability is slight, the court in its discretion may find the accused not guilty of reckless driving but guilty of improper driving. However, an attorney for the Commonwealth may reduce a charge of reckless driving to improper driving at any time prior to the court's decision and shall notify the court of such change. Improper driving shall be punishable as a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $500."
What This Means
Improper driving is an offense that's unique to Virginia courts. A law enforcement officer can't charge you with improper driving, but a reckless driving charge may be reduced to improper driving if the court deems this is appropriate.
Although improper driving carries a higher fine than other types of traffic violations such as speeding or running a red light, this charge spares you the harsh penalties associated with the criminal offense of reckless driving. This means a reduction is particularly useful if you're trying to enlist in the military, applying to graduate school, or worried about being able to pass a pre-employment background check.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
Improper driving charges may be used when there are extenuating circumstances that caused your driving behavior or if you received a reckless driving ticket for an accident where there was limited evidence of fault. This charge may also be used when a reduction to a different traffic offense isn't possible due to the speed, prior blemishes on your driving record, or cooperation issues with the arresting officer.
Virginia reckless driving attorney Charles V. Hardenbergh is committed to helping clients build an aggressive defense against reckless driving charges, including using improper driving, when appropriate. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.