14 Ways to Be Reckless.
I think Reckless Driving is perhaps the most misunderstood traffic offense in Virginia. Not only because it is a misdemeanor crime (yes, it’s a crime), but also because there are 14 different ways to pick up a reckless driving charge.
A reckless driving charge is what the defense bar calls a serious traffic offense. By that we mean it is a crime punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and, if convicted, you will carry this criminal record for the rest of your life. What??! Yes. A reckless driving is a criminal offense that is categorized as a Misdemeanor 1 (M-1) offense, which carries a possible maximum jail sentence of one year. What other crimes are considered M-1 in Virginia? A sample list includes: DWI, Petit Theft, Simple Assault/Battery, Attempt to Distribute/Sell Marijuana, Prostitution, Stalking, Sexual Battery, Identity Fraud, and Trespass. That’s quite a company to be around with, all for a traffic offense.
If you can beat the reckless driving charge, great. But even if you don’t, I doubt you will go to jail on a first reckless conviction. A person who is convicted of his first reckless driving will usually receive a suspended jail time with fines and perhaps a requirement to complete community volunteer hours. Of course, that reckless driving charge and conviction will be a part of your criminal record forever.
There are about 14 different ways to pick up a reckless driving charge. The list includes: driving vehicle which is not under control or faulty brakes; passing on or at the crest of a grade or a curve; driving with driver’s view obstructed or control impaired (think of jamming eight people in a Volkswagen Beetle); passing two vehicles abreast; driving two abreast in a single lane; passing at a railroad grade crossing; passing a stopped school bus (never, ever, pass a school bus when it’s flashing); failure to give proper signals (bet you didn’t know this one); driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions (regardless of posted speed); exceeding the speed limit (over the 20 mph rule); failure to yield right-of-way; reckless driving on parking lots; racing on a highway, in a parking lot of business, recreational facility, or church (even aiders and abettors who does not race); and the general catch-all rule of “driving in such a reckless manner as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person”. You can find all the details at Va. Code, Sec. 46.2-852 et seq.
Now this is not to say that you should be afraid of driving or be on the lookout for someone who you might report as reckless, but it does illustrate the many different ways a person can be found guilty of reckless driving. Also, I’ve noticed that people these days drive really fast and lack in basic common courtesy.
Slow down. Be courteous to others. Whatever is waiting on the other side of that trip will wait for you. Otherwise, remember that there are 14 ways to pick up a reckless driving charge.