Difference Between Improper Driving And Reckless Driving
Car accidents and driving tickets are an unfortunate fact of life for many of us. Most of the time, traffic tickets will result in little more than a sting in the pocket book and a few points against on the offender’s license. However, accidents and speeding tickets can turn serious if the responding officer feels the at-fault driver’s conduct rises to the level of reckless driving.
Unlike other traffic citations, reckless driving is actually a criminal offense and can carry jail time and especially hefty fines. Under Virginia law, the maximum penalty for reckless driving is one year in prison, a $2,500 fine, and license suspension for up to six-months. Additionally, drivers may receive up to six points on their license.
What is reckless driving?
Under Virginia law, reckless driving can take many forms but no matter the circumstances, the consequences can be quite serious. The law generally holds that any person who drives in a manner or at a speed that endangers the life or limb of another driver is guilty of reckless driving.
Some examples of behavior that may incur a citation for reckless driving in Virginia include:
- Driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on a highway;
- Driving over 80 miles per hour on a highway regardless of the posted speed limit;
- Operating a vehicle with faulty brakes;
- Passing on or at the crest of a grade or on a curve;
- Driving with driver’s view obstructed or control impaired;
- Passing two vehicles abreast;
- Passing at a railroad grade crossing;
- Passing a stopped school bus; and
- Failing to give proper signals.
Can reckless driving charges be reduced to improper driving?
Defendants charged with reckless driving may have their charges reduced to the lesser offense of improper driving by either prosecutors or the judge overseeing the trial. Police officers do not have the discretion to charge suspects with this offense, only the courts.
To have charges of reckless driving mitigated to the lesser charge of improper driving, defendants may need experienced legal counsel on their side to raise various issues in their defense. Opportunities to refute reckless driving charges include factors such as:
- The defendant’s otherwise good driving record;
- Calibrating the defendant’s speedometer to show the defendant did not knowingly drive over the speed limit;
- Investigating whether the proper speed limit was posted on the highway where the offense allegedly took place;
- Examining the calibration certificate of the officer’s radar gun; or
- Bargaining with the police officer or prosecutor to perform community service or attend a driving clinic to have the charges reduced.
The penalties for improper driving are far less serious when compared to reckless driving. The maximum penalties for improper driving are a $500 fine and three points on the driver’s license, which may be removed after three years.
Leesburg Reckless Driving Attorneys
The Leesburg reckless driving attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC have years of experience helping drivers accused of reckless driving find alternative solutions to jail time and hefty fines. Contact our office for a consultation about your case. Our attorney serve clients in Leesburg, Loudoun County and Fairfax County.