Have you ever had that weird experience when you’re driving when your mind wanders during your commute in the morning — say you’re thinking about what you have to do at work that day, or the argument you had with your spouse that morning — and all of a sudden you’re pulling into your office parking lot without knowing how you got there?
Psychologists call that a habit system. You do something the same way, and your brain just knows how to do it without requiring your full attention. You still stop at stop signs and watch for pedestrians, you just don’t consciously know you’re doing it. But what if while your mind is wandering, you forget to click on your turn signal when you need to turn right after stopping at a stop sign, or while you’re changing lanes into the left turn lane? Or what if you don’t see your turn until the last minute and come to a screeching halt before making your turn with no notice to the drivers behind you?
In Virginia, you can be charged with reckless driving for failing to give “adequate and timely signals of intention to turn, partly turn, slow down, or stop,” as required by the state’s traffic laws.
Reckless Driving Isn’t Just a Traffic Ticket
Reckless driving is a criminal charge in Virginia, and has more serious consequences than a mere traffic ticket. You can’t just plead guilty and pay a fine. You’ll have to appear in court, or have an attorney appear on your behalf, and if you’re convicted you could go to jail for up to 12 months. Other penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, possible driver’s license suspension for 10 days to six months, and six demerit points on your license that stay there for 11 years.
Chances are your insurance company will raise your car insurance rates after a reckless driving conviction because you’ll be considered a higher risk. The resulting criminal record from a conviction may affect your chances at employment, a security clearance, or an apartment rental.
But if you have a good driving history or are willing to complete a driver education course, or if there were some circumstances surrounding your reckless driving charge that challenge the story told by law enforcement, an experienced Northern Virginia reckless driving attorney may be able to help you fight the charge or reduce your penalties. You may not have to accept the inevitability of a conviction and its effect on your life.