Reckless Driving by Accident in Virginia
There are many different ways in which reckless driving can be charged in Virginia, one of which is reckless driving by accident. Below, a Virginia reckless driving lawyer discusses what laws in the Virginia Code govern reckless driving by accident, why someone should consult an attorney if he or she has been arrested or charged with reckless driving by accident, and some ways one could defend against such a charge. If you would like to learn more about a reckless driving by accident charge in Virginia call today and schedule a consultation with our Virginia reckless driving attorneys.
Reckless Driving By Accident Statute
There is no specific code section for reckless driving by accident. If someone has been involved in an accident and has been charged with reckless driving as a result of the accident, they will most likely be charged with reckless driving under one or two code sections. Those code sections are Virginia Code Section 46.2–852 or 46.2–853.
Virginia code section 46.2–852 is reckless driving under what is called the “General Rule.” It means driving in any manner as to endanger the life, limb, or property of yourself or another. In practical terms, this code section is often used when an accident occurs and the driver who is at fault in the accident damages life, limb, or property or comes very close to doing so.
The other code section, Virginia Code Section 46.2–853, is failure to maintain proper control of the braking system of your vehicle. Like the general rule, this is often charged after the fact when there is an accident that is a fender-bender or failure to stop properly, a chain-reaction type of crash occurs, and there is little else for the officer other than to charge under reckless driving.
The Benefit of an Attorney in These Cases
First of all, it is never a good idea to represent yourself for any traffic case. I heard a wise judge once say, “You can perform dentistry or surgery on yourself—it is your right—but I don’t recommend anyone doing it.” The same is true for reckless driving by accident cases and any other legal representation. Even Virginia attorneys who find themselves charged with result of reckless driving by accident hire other attorneys to represent them. This is because you want someone at your side, someone who can separate the facts from personal involvement, and someone who can present the evidence in a proper and methodical manner.
This is especially true in reckless driving cases involving accidents because it is uncommon that the law enforcement officer witnessed the reckless driving accident. Cases that involve accidents have special considerations separate from reckless driving by speed cases. This includes the presentation of certain evidence, which will lead to alternative scenarios of how the accident occurred or the ability to rely on certain case law that exists to protect the reckless driving of the defendant.
Charges for Reckless Driving by Accident
Reckless driving by accident is typically charged under Virginia Code Section 46.2–852 or 46.2–853. Depending on the scenario of the accident, if there is significant property damage, significant personal injury, and other considerations, it is not simply tacked on to every accident. An individual in an accident involving property damage may also be not charged with any offense or will be charged with a traffic infraction. Reckless driving is reserved for certain accidents where the officer has probable cause to believe reckless driving has occurred.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, that is certainly a legal defense if you are charged. It is uncommon for someone to be charged with reckless driving when there is an issue as to whose fault the accident is or when it is unclear on how the accident occurred. However, if it does happen and if it happens in your case and you are charged with reckless driving when the accident wasn’t your fault or when the driving behavior of another driver led to the accident, it is best to contact an experienced reckless driving attorney right away. He will work with you to reconstruct the accident, present evidence, and take witness statements.
Evidence in Reckless by Accident Cases
The evidence in reckless driving by accident is in fact as in-depth as a civil case, or more so. This is because the commonwealth must prove that the charged defendant operated the vehicle in a manner that endangered life, limb, or property beyond any reasonable doubt. This is known as the burden of proof.
The burden of proof in criminal case is higher than the burden of proof in the civil case. Therefore, the Commonwealth will have to rely on direct evidence, including testimonies of other parties involved in the accident, testimony or any statements that the defendant made typically to the officer, as well as other circumstantial evidence on how the accident occurred.
Reckless Driving by Speeding v. Accident Cases
The only significant difference between reckless driving by speed and reckless driving involving an accident would be how the evidence is presented and what the elements of the case are.
Reckless driving under the general rule requires reckless driving in a manner that can endanger life, limb, or property of yourself or another. It is not the result of the driving behavior that is a criminal offense, but it is the driving behavior itself.
Similarly, reckless driving by speed involves a determination of whether your speed exceeded the appropriate limits. If the speed, for example, was 100 mph in a 65-mph zone, it wouldn’t matter if you were driving straight, in your lane, and your vehicle is under control. It will still be considered reckless driving by speed, because you have exceeded the statutory limits.
Another difference is that improper driving, pursuant to Virginia Code Section 46.2-869, applies as a lesser-included offense of reckless driving from 46.2-852 or 46.2-853 but not reckless by speed, 46.2-862.
Penalties for a Commercial Driver’s License
Reckless driving by accident is just like all other reckless driving cases and it is going to have a serious impact on your ability to maintain a Virginia CDL. If you are a CDL driver and you have been charged with reckless driving including reckless driving in an accident under Virginia Code Section 46.2–852 or 853, you should contact a Virginia reckless driving attorney right away.
How An Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged with reckless driving under the general rule and you have been involved in an accident, the attorney will take many steps to help the defendant prepare for the case. This will include having an in-depth discussion with you about how the accident occurred and what your observations were preceding the accident and after the accident. The reckless driving attorney will work with you to take the names of other parties involved, take pictures of where the accident occurred, and go over case law to understand how it will apply to your case.