Not Being in Control of the Vehicle
When most people think of reckless driving, they think the person is driving with blatant disregard. Maybe they’re swerving all over the road. Or, they’re driving down the wrong side of the street. Often, excessive speeding is at the root of a reckless driving ticket. In all these situations, the driver is being unsafe on purpose. They know what they’re doing is unsafe.
If you generally follow the rules of the road, you should be safe from a reckless driving charge in Virginia, right? If your car has faulty brakes, the answer is no. When you are unable to adequately stop your car, officers may see this as reckless driving. It comes down to not being in control of the vehicle.
Title 46.2 (Motor Vehicles), Chapter 8 (Regulation of Traffic), Section 46.2-853 of the Code of Virginia describes this situation. It states, “A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a vehicle which is not under proper control or which has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes on any highway in the Commonwealth.”
Faulty brakes are one of 16 offenses in Virginia that could result in a reckless driving ticket. An experienced Virginia lawyer can craft a sound defense to fight this charge.
Possible Defenses to This Reckless Driving Charge
You may be wondering how to defend against a reckless driving charge based on faulty brakes. For that, you need a lawyer who fully understands reckless driving charges in Virginia. By understanding the law, your attorney can strategize around the best argument to drop the charge. Some possible defenses include the following:
- Not your car. If you are driving a company car, you might not notice anything wrong with it at first. The same is true if you are borrowing a friend’s vehicle. If you get in an accident in that short time, your lawyer may be able to argue that you didn’t know about the faulty brakes.
- Reasonable assumption of good brakes. If it is your own vehicle, you may still have no obvious reason to suspect you have faulty brakes. This defense is stronger if the car recently underwent maintenance or state inspection. The car might even be new. You may not have noticed any warning signs.
- Defective parts. Perhaps your car recently went through service. Maybe you even have brand new brakes. But what if there is a manufacturer defect? Or the brakes were installed incorrectly? You might not know, and this could be a valid defense.
- Not a public road. Virginia’s reckless driving law for faulty brakes only applies to the highway. If you were in a parking lot or private road, the statute does not apply.
Potential Sentences and Consequences if Convicted
If you are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. The conviction stays on your driving record for 11 years. Standard penalties for a reckless driving charge are:
- Six (6) DMV points
- A fine of $2,500
- Up to 12 months in jail
- Up to 6 months license suspension
As a class 1 misdemeanor, a reckless driving conviction stays on your permanent criminal record for life. This can profoundly affect your personal and professional life. You may not get security clearance for certain jobs. Car insurance premiums increase as a result too.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
Trying to explain your case to a judge on your own is very risky. While you may hope for leniency, this can backfire. The judge may see your plea as simply making excuses. The average person lacks the legal expertise to defend themselves in court. It is highly advisable to retain a lawyer’s help when facing a criminal reckless driving charge.
Extensive training and experience in Virginia law prepare a defense attorney to build your case. This sound understanding means being able to identify opportunities. It also means framing the argument in the best light possible. Reckless driving is a serious offense with serious consequences.
Even if the brakes were faulty, your lawyer may be able to argue for a lesser charge or a reduced sentence. A good driving record can work strongly in your favor.