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Fairfax, Virginia prides itself as one of the best places to live in Virginia. Full of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks, it gives residents this dense urban feel. No wonder so many young families settle there.

what is reckless driving person behind the wheel

When you live in or travel through a place like Fairfax, you have the responsibility of knowing their laws. Virginia law can vary slightly from neighboring states.

For example, reckless driving means more than just tipping your speedometer past the speed limit.

What is reckless driving in Fairfax, Virginia? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this misdemeanor.

What Is Reckless Driving?

If you’re charged with reckless driving in Virginia, you did more than drive a little fast. For reckless driving, Virginia law includes 14 different kinds of serious traffic violations, all of which are class 1 misdemeanors. Here are a few of the violations.

The General Reckless Driving Charge

The Code of Virginia section 46.2-852 defines reckless driving as the act of driving a vehicle on a highway “recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.”

In other words, speed is not necessarily a factor. If you’re driving at or below the speed limit but still driving in a way that endangers someone’s life or someone’s property, you can be charged with reckless driving.

Causing a Car Accident

The state may charge you with reckless driving if you’re involved in a car accident. When you have a car accident, the police will come to investigate. They must determine at that time who is responsible for the accident.

If the office deems you responsible because of your speed or the way you were driving, he can have you charged with reckless driving. You need to have been driving above the speed limit or in a way that endangered someone’s life, limb, or property.

At this point, if someone is hurt in the car accident, the state can charge you with more than a misdemeanor.

So, is reckless driving a felony then?

Reckless driving on its own is not a felony in Virginia. Know where you’re at. Some states qualify reckless driving as a felony, so be aware if you’re in Virginia or across state lines.

Speeding and Reckless Driving

Like other states’ laws, Virginia’s state laws allow the state to charge individuals with criminal charges when they’re speeding excessively. If you drive more than 20 miles per hour past the speed limit, the state can charge you with reckless driving simply based on your speed.

Also, if you’re driving more than 85 miles per hour, the state can charge you with reckless driving. Police commonly charge drivers with reckless driving when they go faster than 80 mph, even if they’re not 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Out of Control Driving

You will find reckless driving on your record if you do not maintain proper control over your vehicle. So if you drift over the centerline or into the shoulder, you’re not maintaining control, and an officer can arrest you for reckless driving.

This charge applies even if you have a vehicle malfunction such as inadequate brakes. If you have faulty brakes, the state can still charge you with reckless driving.

The state holds you responsible for vehicle maintenance. Thus if your driving errors result from failure to maintain your vehicle, they can and will charge you for reckless driving.

Common Reckless Driving Charge Causes

Virginia has 11 other types of reckless driving. These are not as common as the previously mentioned reckless driving charges, but you can still receive a misdemeanor on your record if you do these things:

  • Pass a car when your view is obstructed
  • Overload your car
  • Pass two vehicles at once
  • Cause two vehicles to drive in one lane
  • Pass at a railroad grade crossing or intersection
  • Pass a stopped school bus
  • Fail to use your turn signal
  • Drive too fast for current traffic conditions
  • Fail to yield to the right of way
  • Race

As you can see, reckless driving means more than just speeding In each of these cases, an individual is putting someone’s life or property in danger.

Handling a Reckless Driving Charge

The result of a reckless driving charge depends on two things: the attorney who represents you and the judge who hears your case. A good attorney understands how to consider all factors and how to present those to a judge.

These are a few things that could impact the outcome of your case if your reckless driving charge results from speeding:

  • Your driving record
  • The number of miles per hour you were driving past the limit
  • The calibration of your speedometer

If your reckless driving charge does not result from speeding, then you need to consider other factors. Were you in distress? Did you have a reason for your driving behavior?

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, you cannot just pay for the ticket and go on. You will have to appear in court or have a lawyer appear for you. If you fail to appear, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest, and they will charge you with failure to appear.

Use a Fairfax criminal attorney when you’re addressing a reckless driving charge. Local attorneys understand local jurisdiction, and thus they will understand how the local courts handle reckless driving charges.

We Can Help

Understanding how to address your reckless driving charge means first and foremost being able to answer the question, what is reckless driving? Now that you can do this, you can move forward.

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, contact a professional attorney who specializes in reckless driving charges. Reckless driving charges carry stiff penalties from expensive fines to extensive jail time.

We have helped countless individuals with such charges and would love to help you as well. Contact us today.

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Violations
  • Reckless Driving
  • Felonies and Misdemeanors

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia, 1985
  • District of Columbia, 1987
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, 1985
  • U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, 1987
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1985
  • U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims


  • University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia
    • J.D. - 1985
  • Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • B.A. magna cum laude - 1982
    • Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
    • Major: Economics & Philosophy
Free Consultation
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