Snow: Reckless Driving Laws in Virginia – Weather or Snow related accidents

Reckless Driving: Weather Related

Although weather related accidents are common in Virginia, did you know it is possible to receive a criminal reckless driving charge if you lose control of your vehicle? Our Fairfax reckless driving attorney explains how this can happen (even if factors such as alcohol, drugs, or speed are non-existent).

How would you feel if you were charged with a crime, as a result of losing control of your vehicle due to weather related factors?

Our Fairfax County reckless driving lawyer has written extensively on the various types of reckless drivinga class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia – this article serves to remind drivers in the Commonwealth and educate those who may have an upcoming court date.

There are many variations of reckless driving in Virginia (see our main Reckless Driving information section).

In the event of a single (or multiple) car accident, the most common form of reckless driving we see drivers charged with are: VA Reckless driving (General) Va Code 46.2-852, and failure to maintain control VA Code 46.2-853.

First, it is important to understand the seriousness of the following points:

  • “reckless driving” in Virginia is a crime
  • “reckless driving” in Virginia may increase insurance costs dramatically
  • a reckless driving conviction in Virginia may have immigration consequences at the federal level
  • reckless driving convictions may have civil implications in the event of property damage or personal injury to others
  • Because reckless driving is a criminal charge, there may be security clearance related issues/complications

Virginia State Troopers or County Police often charge drivers with either reckless driving (due to driving too fast for conditions), or for failure to maintain control under such circumstances. Occasionally, a driver may catch a break and end up charged with an infraction (for example, failure to pay full time and attention or defective equipment).

Even if a driver “catches a break” and is charged with a non-criminal offense, it may be very important to be protected by obtaining proper representation with a reckless driving lawyer in Fairfax County or Virginia, due to civil implications. Side note: When a case comes to court, the way in which it is handled by the judicial system may vary depending upon the county or city.

Surprising? Criminal charge for crashing in the snow? Reckless Driving Lawyer in Fairfax County Explains Weather Related Traffic Law Charges               

In the event of personal injury or property damage, cases may be more complicated and proper guidance is even more critical. In the event of a two – car accident, for example, it is often important that the driver does not plead guilty to any offense – even if the judge or prosecutor offers the individual’s attorney a “Deal” to resolve the case with a lower fine or by reducing the charge from reckless driving to an infraction. Every case is different, but by pleading guilty or no contest to even a lesser charge may have civil implications.

For example:

Imagine a scenario in which two cars collide in what seems to be a typical low-level fender-bender accident. The driver determined to be at fault is charged with either reckless driving or a minor infraction. He or she does not believe the other driver has suffered any injury.

The driver goes to court and pleads guilty, or pre-pays the fine. Several months later, it turns out the other driver did in fact suffer some injury as a result of the accident. The injured driver (or his or her representative or insurance company) can potentially use the guilty plea or prepayment of the charge as evidence of an admission of guilt or fault. On the other hand, if the driver entered a plea of “not guilty” then, generally, this would not be the case.

Criminal charge for accident due to snow/ice by Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer

Thankfully, if a case must go to trial and a plea of not guilty is entered to a charge of reckless driving in Virginia, the judge has the authority to find the driver guilty of a non-criminal infraction called, “improper driving.” Improper driving carries half of the demerit points – but more significantly, is not a criminal charge. Even though a driver may be found guilty of the lesser offense, by pleading “not guilty,” any potential civil lawsuit brought against the driver later will not be bolstered by an admission of guilt from the criminal / traffic case.

In Fairfax County, it is not common practice for a prosecutor to speak with an individual charged with criminal reckless driving (in some counties, policies may differ). Secondly, judges do not offer defendants the option to complete a traffic school or driving course to reduce or dismiss the charge.

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Brenton D. Vincenzes is a lifelong Fairfax County resident and Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer. He is a member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National College of DUI Defense, NORML, and has been awarded the following in 2014-15: Top 100 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Nationally Ranked Top 10 Under 40 Defense Attorney (National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys) 10 Best in Client Satisfaction for Criminal Defense (American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys) Nationally Ranked Top 1% Attorney Award Recipient (National Association of Distinguished Counsel) As a local leader, Mr. Vincenzes mentors troubled youths, volunteers his time to serve at his church, takes select pro bono clients, and strives to improve the community. Mr. Vincenzes represents men, women, and juveniles through zealous and diligent advocacy, strategic planning, and skilled trial work preparation. Mr. Vincenzes' areas of criminal law practice are broad, and include most felonies and misdemeanors such as: reckless driving, DUI & DWI, drug offenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, assault on an officer, destruction of property, alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, fraud, and other theft offenses, and moving traffic violations among others. His private legal services are available in most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Stafford County, Alexandria, Manassas, Leesburg, South Riding, and other cities and towns.


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