One of the unfortunate outcomes of 2020 is an increase in traffic accidents, as well as overly aggressive law enforcement efforts to address the issue. A recent news article estimated that the rate of traffic fatalities is the highest it has been in 13 years, and the experts suggest that this is due to risky behaviors such as distracted or impaired driving, speeding or aggressive maneuvers, or driving without a seatbelt.
While a lot has happened in the last year-and-a-half that might contribute to the frustration associated with a harsh economy, health concerns or other issues, overly aggressive law enforcement in Virginia and elsewhere can turn a traffic incident into a nightmare of added charges, including reckless driving. When this happens, it is very important to know your rights and how to defend yourself in order to have charges dropped or reduced.
What reckless driving looks like in Virginia
Accusations of reckless driving can result in felony or misdemeanor charges, depending on the seriousness of the accident or the observations of the arresting officer. Some of these charges include:
- Speeding 20 mph above the posted speed limit, or driving above 80 mph
- Driving too fast for the existing road conditions
- Racecar driving
- Illegally passing school busses or emergency vehicles
- Failing to signal or having faulty brakes
- Recklessly driving in a parking lot
Common defenses of reckless driving charges
After an accident, law enforcement will come to the scene, take statements from both sides on the cause of the accident and, if necessary, call an ambulance to provide immediate support to accident victims. An officer can also pull a suspect over after observing erratic driving behavior, even if they are not yet able to make an arrest until they obtain more evidence. In either case, the officer is gathering the evidence necessary for charges to stick later in court.
There are a number of defenses that the accused can use, especially when they are facing multiple charges:
- That they had to drive recklessly due to an emergency situation.
- That their driving was careless but not reckless.
- That the radar gun that the officer used was inaccurate or improperly calibrated.
- That they were in the vehicle but that someone else was driving it.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, it is possible to challenge the evidence, the arresting procedures, or the officer’s observations. When you are charged with a crime, it is essential to fight for your rights in order to minimize the damage done and get on with your life.