You may have a friend or colleague who knows someone who got out of a reckless driving charge for some unique reasons. While this may have been the case, your friend’s defenses for reckless driving are likely the exception to the rule – not the norm. The Commonwealth of Virginia views this offense as one of the most serious traffic offenses, and you should know which defenses have a chance of helping you and which ones will mean a likely conviction.
Reckless Driving Defenses That Won’t Stand Up
“I was running late.” An urgent appointment or matter isn’t going to be a strong defense for reckless driving. If you are driving in a way that is risky, a law enforcement officer may pull you over and charge you with reckless driving. Examples of the kind of risky behavior that could get you pulled over include passing emergency vehicles or school buses, failing to signal properly, or driving at unsafe speeds. This statement implies to the police officer that you failed to abide by the law in your rush to get to where you needed to be. When you’ve been charged with something as serious as reckless driving, the facts of the case matter most. There are situations when this defense could work if you needed to get to a hospital or there was a life-threatening emergency, but there are no guarantees.
“I didn’t see a posted speed limit.” Virginia has an absolute speed limit of 80 mph, which means that exceeding this limit is illegal regardless of whether or not it is safe. If you are charged with exceeding this speed, you are automatically charged with reckless driving. It’s also considered reckless driving if you were speeding 20 or more mph over the speed limit regardless of whether the posting was visible to you. The Commonwealth’s speed limit is 55 to 60 mph on certain highways, 65 mph on freeways, and 70 mph on I-85. Not paying attention to the speed limit is not a defense – it’s an excuse. If there are valid concerns – such as the sign was tampered with or you feel that the law enforcement’s reading of your speed was wrong – your best option is to contact an experienced Virginia reckless driving lawyer to handle your case and review the evidence.
“I was going with the flow of traffic.” Unfortunately, going with the flow of traffic means nothing to the police or the prosecution. Excessive speed, switching lanes quickly without signaling, or inappropriately passing can be charged as reckless driving, even if you’re not the only person using these driving tactics in the flow of traffic. The prosecutor and judge will not accept this as a reasonable defense for your case. As a driver, you should abide by the laws regardless of how traffic is behaving.
“I’m unfamiliar with the car I was driving.” It’s possible that you might be unfamiliar with a different car’s acceleration or turn signals, but if you’re driving a rental, a new vehicle, or someone else’s vehicle, you need to orient yourself to the vehicle before getting behind the wheel.
There are some defenses that could work but they require solid evidence. For example, if your car is unable to drive a certain speed, you may be able to provide evidence proving that your vehicle cannot go that fast. An attorney can help you figure out what evidence or testing is needed in order to use this as a defense. The same goes for testing or reviewing your cruise control. If you’re interested in learning what defenses are commonly used in reckless driving cases, click here.