In the years since the Great Recession started, a weak national economy has resulted in many people holding onto their cars longer instead of buying new ones because car loans were harder to come by, and with high unemployment and economic uncertainty a lot of people didn’t want to spend the money replacing their cars. By 2011, the average age of cars on American roads hit an all-time high of 11.1 years, according to the New York Times.
Another consequence of the sluggish economy is that many people push off regular maintenance of their vehicles because they just can’t afford the repairs until it’s absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, that can mean that parts fail at the worst possible time. In Virginia, if your brakes fail, not only can you or others on the road be in physical danger, you can actually be charged with the crime of reckless driving.
Virginia Code §46.2-853 makes it a form of reckless driving to drive a car that is not under proper control or that has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes on any highway in the state.
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Virginia judges also have the discretion to suspend your driver’s license for 10 days to six months when you’re convicted of reckless driving. You’ll also get six demerit points on your license that stay on your record for 11 years.
A conviction for reckless driving for faulty brakes means you’ll have a permanent criminal record that likely will show up in background checks when you apply for a job, a security clearance, or an apartment rental.
You also face the possibility that your car insurance company will raise your rates after a conviction.
If you’ve been charged with reckless driving because of faulty brakes, there are some ways an experienced traffic defense attorney may be able to help. For example, the statute specifies that it’s reckless to drive with faulty brakes on any highway in the state. If you were driving on a private road or parking lot, you may have a defense to the charge.
If you have a good driving history, an attorney also may be able to negotiate on your behalf to have the charge reduced to a non-criminal traffic infraction such as improper control that carries only a fine and no jail time.
It’s a good idea to consult a Northern Virginia reckless driving defense attorney with experience handling reckless driving cases in the court where your charge is pending to talk about your circumstances and any other possible defenses that may be available to you.