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, most prosecutors in Virginia Beach would not 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.” (July 1, 2020 Update: Virginia’s Reckless Driving by Speed Threshold Increased to Above 85 mph)
As you can see, this statute establishes strict liability and the officer need only prove a defendant’s speed. Virginia law does not require that the defendant know how fast he was going. There are ways to question the officer’s allegation of speed. Contrary to the practice of many attorneys, I regularly check to see that the officer’s equipment is in working and proper order. But note that Virginia’s reckless driving by speed code section does not require any dangerous conduct be proven.
The prosecution’s need to prove dangerous conduct would be different if a defendant was charged under 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.”
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! Our law firm regularly defends against high speed reckless driving by speed charges in Virginia. Take a look at our recent case results here.