Many states have reckless driving laws. Using these laws, police and prosecutors can criminally punish drivers who engage in behaviors that law enforcement officers deem to be particularly dangerous or careless. In Virginia, the laws against reckless driving are especially broad. For instance, just about anyone who causes an accident can face a charge of misdemeanor reckless driving, because reckless driving in Virginia is any sort of driving that endangers another person’s life or property, even if no other traffic laws are broken.

Likewise, Virginia has a laundry list of behaviors that, in this state, are criminal. Among other behaviors, driving over 80 miles per hour, even on a freeway, or going more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, is automatically reckless driving. Likewise, unlawful passing of a school bus, passing on a hill, passing near a railroad crossing or even forgetting to use a turn signal are all acts of reckless driving.

The problem with a reckless driving charge is that it is a criminal offense. Although usually a misdemeanor, this means that a person convicted of reckless driving will have a criminal record.

Jail and other serious penalties are also real possibilities, particularly if the charge arises out of an injury accident. Finally, a reckless driving conviction will have an effect on a person’s driver’s license status.

Particularly in Virginia, where the law is so broad, any number of otherwise law-abiding citizens can find themselves charged with reckless driving after what was, at worst, little more than an oversight or an honest mistake. Those in the Harrisonburg area who are in this situation will likely want to get more information about criminal defense options.