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Reckless Driving and Passing a Vehicle at a Crest or Grade

Passing a Vehicle at a Crest

It can be really frustrating to be driving on a winding, two-lane country highway and end up stuck behind a semi truck or a large, slow-moving piece of farm equipment. You want to get where you’re going, and it’s really tempting to just speed up and go around that truck or farm vehicle. It doesn’t look like there are any other cars on the road, but it’s hard to tell because of the way the road winds up and down hills and around curves. You decide to just go for it. You gun your engine, cross the yellow line, and successfully pass the large vehicle. You think there’s no harm, but then you get pulled over and told you’re being charged with reckless driving.

According to Virginia Code §46.2-854, it’s reckless driving to overtake and pass another vehicle traveling the same direction when you’re approaching the crest of a grade or a curve in the highway and your view is obstructed, unless there’s a designated passing lane or you’re on a one-way road.

Statutory Penalties

In Virginia, a reckless driving conviction can cost you a lot more than just a traffic fine. It’s a criminal charge — in fact, it’s the most serious class of misdemeanor, and in some circumstances can even be a felony. In its misdemeanor form, reckless driving can be punished with up to 12 months in jail, a maximum $2,500 fine, and a driver’s license suspension up to six months.

An experienced traffic defense lawyer may be able to negotiate on jail time, fines and the license suspension, but a reckless driving conviction automatically will result six demerit points on your license. Demerit points for reckless driving stay on your driving record for 11 years.

Other Consequences

Chances are that you’ll end up paying more for car insurance after a reckless driving conviction. Each insurance carrier has its own internal policies about how moving violations affect insurance rates, but a traffic offense as serious as reckless driving in all likelihood will have some effect on your premiums.

Because the conviction is criminal, you also will have to deal with the consequences of a permanent criminal record. Your conviction likely will show up on background checks when you apply for a job, a security clearance, or a place to live. Reckless driving may or may not affect your chances at getting an apartment or a security clearance, but if that job involves driving on company business, the reckless driving conviction may be an obstacle.

How a Lawyer Can Help

A skilled attorney with experience defending reckless driving charges in Virginia courts may be able to negotiate to have your charge reduced to a simple traffic infraction so that you avoid a criminal conviction. If the facts and evidence are in your favor, an attorney may be able to get the case dismissed and the charge expunged from your record. Your outcome will depend upon the circumstances of your individual case, but it very well may be worth consulting a traffic defense lawyer about your options.