For criminal defense attorneys, it’s a well-known tactic to argue
for or accept a lesser charge in exchange for dropping a harsher one.
It’s a common enough occurrence that even first-time defendants might
recognize the scenario: a prosecutor will try a case for a person accused of
driving under the influence, but cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was intoxicated.
Thus, the defense is in a strong position to lower the charge to reckless driving.
However, Virginia law doesn’t just see
reckless driving as a “lesser version” of DUI. It is a separate and distinct
crime from DUI, enough that Virginia law stipulates that if a person is
charged with both reckless driving and DUI, the court can only convict
one charge and dismiss the other (§ 19.2-294.1).
Then What Is Reckless Driving?
So what’s the distinction between the two? Virginia’s general
reckless driving rule says the following:
“Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person
who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner
so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty
of reckless driving.”
Fairly self-explanatory—to be found guilty of reckless driving, it
must be proven that you were driving in a way that put other people or
property at risk. It’s easy to see how reckless driving could be
folded into DUI as a lesser charge. The assumption of any DUI law, after
all, is that driving while drunk puts other people at greater risk.
However, there are other reckless driving statutes that are more specific:
- Poor brakes
- Passing on a curved road
- Passing two vehicles at a time
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Failing to signal
- Driving 20 mph over the speed limit
Because these more specific, Virginia law allows these charges to be added
onto a DUI charge. That means added fines, added jail time, and added
convictions on your criminal record.
If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, you need a defense attorney
who understands the ins and outs of Virginia courts, who knows how to
fight for the best possible result. For 18 years, the Law Offices of Daniel
J. Miller have successfully fought for acquittals, dismissals, and reduced charges.
You can entrust your case to us. Call (757) 517-2942 for a
free consultation now.