What will get you a speeding ticket in most states may land you a class 1 misdemeanor for reckless driving in Virginia. Recently Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was stopped by a highway patrol officer in Florida for driving 110 mph in a 70-mph zone and charged with reckless driving. Prosecutors in Florida decided to drop the reckless driving charge after review because they determined that on the morning of the incident, traffic was “moderate to light,” and the weather was clear and the roads were dry. According to the Florida prosecutor, “Puig wasn’t observed weaving in and out of traffic or losing control of his vehicle, was sober and had a valid Florida driver’s license.” While I strive to point out any helpful traffic conditions and the positives of my client’s driving behavior, I don’t see prosecutors in Virginia deciding to dismiss a reckless driving charge at high speeds because they don’t “deem” it to be reckless. In fact, jail time is normal in most high speed cases in Virginia. Reckless driving by speed in Virginia is NOT just a speeding ticket.
This is because Virginia’s reckless driving by speed statute, Virginia Code § 46.2-862, states,
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
As you can see, this statute establishes strict liability and the officer need only prove a defendant’s speed. Virginia’s code section does not even require that the defendant know how fast he was going. Contrary to some attorneys, I do check to see that the officer’s equipment is in working and proper order, but Virginia’s reckless driving by speed code section does not require any dangerous conduct. Judges can do a few things to mitigate the harshness of Virginia’s reckless driving by speed law, but our laws are probably not as relaxed as Florida’s.
There are at least 14 ways you can be charged with reckless driving in Virginia. Perhaps Florida’s reckless driving statute is similar to Virginia’s “reckless driving generally” code section, Virginia Code § 46.2-852, which states:
Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.
I have experience with high speed cases in Virginia. (State Bar Required disclaimer: NOTE THAT CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS THAT ARE UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. PREVIOUS RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN A FUTURE CASE THAT I UNDERTAKE.) I recently had a prosecutor in Virginia Beach agree to reduce a reckless driving by speed charge for 98 mph in a 55-mph zone to speeding at the same speed, a simple speeding ticket, rather than a misdemeanor. However, in that case, the judge approved our agreement but told the prosecutor to never make a deal like that again. The judge then proceeded to tell my client how lucky he was since he would have liked to give him jail time.
Depending on the jurisdiction and the facts of your case, there may or may not be a prosecutor assigned to your case. That could affect the dynamics in court and sometimes that is good, other times bad. Please contact us today for a free consultation!