Driving is one of the most useful and also one of the most dangerous activities in society. When done recklessly, it can lead to catastrophic injuries and death.
Sadly, reckless driving in Virginia is not uncommon but normal. It encompasses such activities as road rage, racing, and other dangerous ways of driving that create unreasonable risks.
Types of Reckless Driving in Virginia
In Virginia, reckless driving refers to operating a motor vehicle in a way that results in an unreasonable risk of danger. Based on this definition, many manners of vehicle operation may be considered reckless.
Speeding is a leading cause of wrecks in Virginia. Drivers traveling at unreasonably high velocities do not have the time to react to danger. According to the law, a driver going 20 mph over the posted speed limit or 85 mph, regardless of the limit, is guilty of reckless driving.
Additionally, any driver who drives too fast for highway conditions can also face a reckless driving charge based on speeding, regardless of the posted limit. For example, a driver can be on the hook for reckless driving for going 55 mph on a 55 mph highway if the road or weather conditions only allow for safe driving at 35 mph or so.
Passing at the Crest of a Grade or Curve
Passing another vehicle at the crest of a curve or grade can dangerously obstruct the passing driver’s view. Hence, doing so is considered reckless driving in Virginia.
Driving with an Obstructed View
Reckless driving also occurs when a driver’s view of the road and their surroundings is obstructed by passengers or objects.
Passing Two Vehicles at Once
Passing two vehicles on a road or highway is reckless driving in Virginia. However, this rule only applies to cars. If only one or none of the vehicles are cars, you can pass more than one at a time. Otherwise, you must wait until a single-car pass can be accomplished.
Passing a Stopped School Bus
Failure to stop when a school bus is unloading school children is considered to be reckless driving in Virginia, regardless of which direction you come from.
However, Virginia drivers need not stop when the school bus is parked on another roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or driveway separated by a physical barrier or unpaved area.
Racing has increased in popularity and is now a major safety concern. It is considered reckless driving and comes with penalties and enhancements when the racing results in injuries or death.
Failure to Obey Traffic Rules in General
A driver in Virginia may face a reckless driving charge simply for failing to obey the basic rules of the road, such as:
- Failure to indicate a turn
- Failure to indicate a stop (faulty brake lights)
- Failing to yield
The state can also charge someone with reckless driving for failure to reduce their speed or change lanes when approaching a stopped vehicle displaying warning lights.
Other Instances of Reckless Driving in Virginia
A driver may also face a reckless driving charge if:
- The vehicle is not under the proper control of the driver
- The vehicle has faulty brakes
- The driver drives two abreast on a single-lane highway
- The driver passes at a railroad-grade crossing
- Aggressive driving, such as following too closely
Reckless driving charges may also be issued for reckless driving that occurs in parking lots of establishments that are open to the public.
Consequences of Reckless Driving in Virginia
Reckless driving in Virginia has significant consequences in both the civil and criminal realms. This makes sense because the state typically classifies reckless driving as criminal behavior and more than just bad driving.
Criminally speaking, a driver can be hit with a misdemeanor or a felony charge of reckless driving, depending on the circumstances. In general, felony charges are typically for those drivers who cause bodily harm or death.
And the more serious reckless driving cases that are not felonies are Class 1 misdemeanors. A reckless driver will also have points added to their driver’s license. This, in turn, can cause a spike in insurance premiums.
When the degree of culpability in a reckless driving case is slight, the court can replace the reckless driving charge with a charge of improper driving. Improper driving is an infraction with fines that top out at $500.
The civil consequences of reckless driving can be devastating for both the reckless driver and their victim. The driver could face significant liability for the injuries and losses they cause. And the victim could face death or serious pain and losses due to their injuries. To sue for pain and suffering you can talk to a personal injury lawyer at Joel Bieber Law Firm.
If the injured party decides to bring a claim against the reckless driver, the driver could be on the hook for significant damages, such as compensation for:
- Medical bills and expenses related to the car accident
- Lost income and lost future earning capacity
- Home and auto modifications when necessary
- Homecare workers to help around the house
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of capacity to enjoy life
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
In some cases involving reckless drivers, victims may be eligible to receive punitive damages on top of the above-listed damages. Punitive damages are for car accident cases involving malicious or willful behavior. In other words, a simple mistake is insufficient to warrant punitive damages.
Contact a Reckless Driving Accident Lawyer in Virginia Today
The Joel Bieber Law Firm knows that the losses caused by reckless drivers can set you back and forever alter your life. Let Attorney Bieber and his team review your case at no charge and explore your options for compensation. Call to schedule a free consultation today.