15th Sep 2013
The Problem (for the Prosecution) with General Reckless Driving Charges in Virginia (46.2-852)
A good number of my clients charged with Reckless Driving are charged with 46.2-852, also known as General Reckless Driving. The statute itself is quite short and appears to be described in general terms.
In my opinion, the word “general” confuses a lot of people, including the officer or trooper giving out the charge. In Virginia, there are over 14 different Reckless Driving statutes, most of them only apply to very narrow circumstances. For example, 46.2-859 deals with passing a stopped school bus, or 46.2-865 deals with racing. So even though there a lot of different reckless driving statutes for an officer to pick, a lot of those law sections will not be relevant. So what is an officer to do when he or she feels that something doesn’t seem right as to how a driver operated their vehicle (e.g. officers often will give reckless driving charges when reporting to accidents)? Often, their to-go-move is to charge General Reckless Driving. But here is the reality that a lot officers don’t understand: just because they couldn’t find a more specific violation to charge under, doesn’t mean that they should be giving out criminal summons for General Reckless Driving. In other words, they may of made the mistake of charging under 46.2-852, but with the help of an experienced attorney you can fight the charge and give yourself the best opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction.