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Driving Too Fast for Highway and Traffic Conditions in Fairfax County

Reckless Driving By Driving Too Fast for Conditions in Fairfax County

One of the biggest considerations when driving in Fairfax County is what the speed limit is.  We have been trained to consider whether it is a large highway or a small residential road and will therefore have an idea whether we can drive faster or must drive at a slower pace.  Sometimes, however, it does not matter what the speed limit is if the road conditions or traffic conditions are such that a slower pace is required.  There is a statute in Virginia that criminalizes driving too fast under certain conditions.  So even if you are not exceeding the speed limit, you can be convicted of Reckless Driving by Driving Too Fast for Conditions.

Under § 46.2-861 is it reckless driving to drive too fast for traffic or highway conditions.  The statute articulates that, regardless of posted speed limits, a person cannot exceed a reasonable speed limit under the circumstances and conditions existing at the time.  As a result, if it is snowing or raining heavily, a speed limit sign is not really relevant.  We have seen people in court, representing themselves, and get convicted of this misdemeanor because they were driving 5 mph under the speed limit in a snow storm and slid and crashed into a traffic barrier.  But were they really guilty?

What is Too Fast For Conditions?

The statute says you cannot exceed a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions.  This is a very vague and fact-specific law.  Many of these types of cases are accidents that no one actually saw.  If the police officer or trooper did not see the accident, then how can they know whether the person exceeded a reasonable speed?  Also, if the officer shows up on the scene later, how do they know what the conditions were at the time the person was driving? 

As indicated above, a conviction is reckless driving by statute.  This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and is a serious moving violation.  If you see this charge on your summons with the corresponding code section you should have a lawyer.  There are many things a lawyer can do to help minimize the damage this charge will bring to your record.

Driving Too Fast for Conditions Defenses

Just because you are charged with this offense does not mean you are guilty of it.  Rather, with the appropriate set of facts, the charge can be reduced or dismissed entirely.  A reduction would be an agreement between your lawyer and the Fairfax County prosecutor to something other than reckless driving.  The idea is that the only charge that would up on your driving record is the one worked out (i.e. agreed to by plea deal).  For example, Improper Driving can be a good outcome because it is a traffic infraction (non-misdemeanor).  In other cases, Failure to Maintain Control under the county code may be a good outcome as a no-point non-moving violation.  Finally, some cases require dismissal of the charge if there is not enough evidence of excessive speed under the conditions.  These potential outcomes (and others) should be discussed during your consultation.

Your Free Consultation

Before you consider representing yourself in court, contact an attorney and speak with them.  We offer a free consultation and will give you sound advice.  We are in court everyday and hate to see people represent themselves when they don't have to.  Remember, when a police officer testifies against a Defendant, who do you think the Judge will believe?  We recommend you even out the playing field and have a lawyer in your corner.

The truth about your case

We will not “sugar coat.” We will tell you exactly what you are facing and will give you the best and worst case scenarios. We are not here to scare you or to pull the wool over your eyes. We find many people calling us for a simple case where they have spoken to other lawyers and are now afraid. However, after speaking with those people and getting the facts, many times there is nothing to fear. We will tell you how things look and we will tell you the truth because we want happy clients. That’s you!

Letnick Law Office
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