Kinds of Reckless Driving Charges in Virginia
During the pandemic, empty roads encouraged reckless driving. Two-thirds of professed speeders said that, since traffic volume was so low, they didn’t think they put anyone else in danger. That logic might have worked during coronavirus lockdowns, but it doesn’t work today. Police officers and criminal judges, who are determined to break this bad driver habit, don’t accept this or any other excuse.
Reckless driving is not a “go forth and sin no more” traffic ticket. It’s a serious offense that also has substantial collateral consequences, like higher auto insurance rates. A Fairfax criminal defense lawyer evaluates your case and identifies possible defenses. Then, an attorney effectively uses these defenses to obtain a plea to a lesser included offense or another favorable outcome.
Moving for Stationary Vehicles
Most states, including Virginia, enacted “move-over laws” in response to collisions between careless drivers and emergency responders. Virginia’s version of this law requires motorists to move over as far as possible. For example, if the road is a four-lane highway, the law requires motorists to move into a non-adjacent lane before passing the stopped emergency vehicle.
The stopped vehicle must be in full emergency mode (all lights flashing). Frequently, police officers only flash their lights to pull over motorists. Or, they turn off their emergency lights once they exit their vehicles. It’s very difficult to distinguish between a low-profile police car, especially an unmarked car, and another vehicle.
Furthermore, the move-over law only applies if that moving over was reasonable under the circumstances. On the street, a police officer decides what’s reasonable. In court, a jury decides what’s reasonable.
Section 46.2-862, the excessive speeding law, applies if a motorist is traveling over 20mph above the limit or over 85mph regardless of the posted limit.
Incidentally, a speed limit is a presumptively reasonable speed under ideal conditions. Police officers can and do issue Section 46.2-862 citations if they feel the driver’s speed was unreasonable. Once again, jurors have the final word in this area.
This law hasn’t kept pace with the times. Twenty years ago, 85mph was a Speed Racer velocity that clearly exceeded safe limits. Today, most cars and trucks can do 85mph without putting the pedal to the metal. Additionally, on some highways, this velocity is only 10mph above the posted limit.
Jurors cannot disregard unreasonable laws. But they can bypass them, if a Fairfax criminal defense attorney gives them a hook. For example, RADAR guns are only accurate at very close range, and even then, they aren’t very precise.
Failing to Yield the Right of Way
Section 46.2-863 is so vague that even we have trouble understanding it. When they merge onto highways from surface streets, motorists must stop “when there is traffic approaching on such highway within 500 feet of such point of entrance.”
Such confusing laws may be unconstitutionally vague. A law is unenforceable if a reasonable person cannot look at it and understand it. Furthermore, stopping in such situations is often unsafe. If Sam has a choice between roadway safety and obeying a vague law, he must put safety first.
Connect with a Savvy Loudoun County Lawyer
There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.