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Reckless Driving by Danger to Life, Limb, or Property in Virginia

This is the second most common type of reckless driving after Virginia code section 46.2–862, which is reckless driving by speed. There are a variety of circumstances under which this type of reckless driving may be charged and the most common is after an accident. A Virginia reckless driving lawyer explains a reckless driving by danger to life, limb, or property in more detail below.

General Rule Reckless Driving

Reckless driving by danger to life, limb, or property is in reference to Virginia Code Section 46.2-852, which is the general rule for reckless driving. Virginia Code Section 46.2–852 is the second most common reckless driving charge that you see in the Virginia courthouse in a regular basis. The most common is reckless driving by speed.

In Virginia, reckless driving by general rule is often charged in accident cases as there is no reckless driving by accident section. It is a commonly seen reckless driving charge. In addition, reckless driving by the general rule does not have to be an accident. It can be simply involve driving behavior that nearly caused an accident or nearly caused some sort of other damage. It is often seen when people are driving in an unsafe manner, including driving on shoulders, between vehicles with a motorcycle, or driving at unsafe speeds for certain conditions.

Standard for General Reckless Driving

For dangerous driving behavior that does not fall under a specific category—such as a specific speed, type of passing, passing a school bus, or having an improper load—you can be charged with violating Virginia Code Section 46.2–852 reckless driving under general rule.

It is often described as a “you know when you see it” kind of standard.

Advantages of Having an Attorney

A driver charged with this offense can benefit from the services of an attorney because of the potential severities of the charge, they may have certain consequences. As with all class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia, reckless driving is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, $2,500 fine, 6 months loss of license, or a combination thereof.

You are facing serious penalties. In the case of a serious accident where the driving behavior shows a serious disregard for the safety of others, it is not uncommon for an active jail time and/or a heavy fine to be imposed, especially if you have a prior criminal history and a prior bad driving record.

If, however, an attorney gets involved in the case, they may be of help to you in coming up with solid legal defenses and mitigation for the circumstances of your case. In addition, there is a lesser-included defense that is often used by attorneys to help lessen your exposure in jail for reckless driving by the general rule.

Evidence in General Reckless Driving Cases

Just like all other reckless driving cases, these cases will typically involve the testimony of the officer. It may involve the testimony of other witnesses, if the case is an accident—testimony could include pictures, videos, or audio recordings. The type of evidence presented depends on the facts and circumstances of your unique case.

A lawyer can help you refute the evidence in the same way he can help refute all other pieces of evidence. This will include the cross examination of witnesses, evidentiary objections, and presentation of your own contrary evidence to support your version of the events of the case.

Unique Aspects of 46.2-852 Reckless Driving Charges

The elements of the offense of the general rule are much broader than any other reckless driving charge. This means that there is more leeway given to the prosecutor and to the law enforcement officer as to the type of evidence that they can present.

There is also a much-included offense known as “improper driving,” which is available when someone is charged under Virginia Code Section 46.2–852 with reckless driving under the general rule.  For more information about the traffic infraction known as “improper driving” pursuant to Virginia Code Section 46.2-869, contact a Virginia reckless driving attorney right away.

The only thing that is different in court is that this type of reckless driving—as opposed to reckless driving by speed, which is the most included offense of reckless driving—is the more accessible lesser offense of improper driving, pursuant to Virginia Code Section 46.2-869.  Many jurisdictions take the position that improper driving only applies to 46.2-852 or 853 violations, not violations of reckless driving by speed.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you are charged with reckless driving by speed by the general rule, the attorney will listen to you, hear out your version of the events, and work with you to present the best legal defense, best factual defense, and best mitigation defense.

This means that your attorney will review for you what legal options might be available—including favorable case law—and what factual defenses may be available—such as how the accident occurred, witnesses that you might have, and cross examination that will come from the officer.

An attorney will also discuss any mitigation evidence that may be appropriate, including good driving records, positive history of employment, lack of criminal history, and things you have done to improve your driving behaviors—such as a driver improvement course and community service.

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