src="" />

Questions? Contact us today

Reckless Driving for Driving Too Fast for Traffic Conditions

Driving Too Fast for Traffic Conditions

“When is the speed limit not the speed limit?” It sounds like a riddle, and to many Virginia drivers it is. The posted speed limit is the speed you’re supposed to drive at or under, right? If the sign says “55” then you’re good if your speedometer says “54,” aren’t you? That may not be the case if you’re driving in heavy rain, snow, ice, or fog, or even going around a curve or if there’s a lot of traffic on the road.

If there any kind of adverse conditions exist on the road, you may find yourself charged with reckless driving for “driving too fast for current conditions” even if you’re obeying the speed limit.

What Virginia Law Says

Virginia Code §46.2-861 makes it a form of reckless driving to drive faster than “a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.”

So what does “reasonable speed” mean? Basically that’s at the discretion of the law enforcement officer who pulls you over. If the officer thinks you were driving at an unsafe speed, or at a speed a reasonable person should have known was unsafe, you may get charged with reckless driving.

This kind of reckless driving charge most often stems from an accident. If you’re driving during a winter storm and slide off into a ditch, the fact of your accident may lead an officer to charge you with reckless driving for driving too fast for conditions on the logic that if you were driving more slowly, you would have been able to stay on the road.

Weather is probably the most common condition for which you can be charged with reckless driving under this statute. Driving too fast in rain, snow, ice, or fog all could lead to a citation. Even driving the speed limit when visibility is reduced or road surfaces are affected by weather conditions can land you in trouble.

Other than inclement weather, circumstances that may prompt an officer to pull you over for reckless driving for driving too fast for conditions is if you take a curve or drive on a gravel road at a speed the officer thinks is unsafe, or if you drive at a speed the officer thinks is too fast in rush hour traffic.

Consequences of a Reckless Driving Charge

Reckless driving typically is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. If you’re convicted, you can be sentenced to up to a year in jail. You also may be required to pay a fine of up to $2,500, and face a possible driver’s license suspension of 10 days to six months.

Reckless driving is a criminal charge, so a conviction means a permanent criminal record. You also likely will see your car insurance rates go up, but that will be up to your insurance company and its internal policies.

If you’re facing a reckless driving charge, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you avoid some of the more serious consequences of a conviction. A good reckless driving defense attorney may be able to argue that you did exercise proper caution and get your charge reduced to something like improper control, which is a simple traffic infraction. Or your case may be dismissed altogether, depending upon the circumstances. It’s worth consulting an attorney to explore all of your options.