After an accident causing injury or property damage, Virginia law enforcement officers are typically considered duty-bound to issue a citation. Even if you believe your accident was caused by brake failure, you can still be charged with reckless driving because you failed to maintain control of your vehicle. However, there are some options available to defend against the charge.
Understanding Virginia's Reckless Driving Law
Virginia Code Section 46.2–853 allows you to be charged with reckless driving for not having your vehicle under control or having faulty brakes. Officers may occasionally write "improper brakes" or "fail to maintain control" on the ticket, but it's still a reckless driving charge.
It may seem unfair to be charged with a criminal offense for having faulty brakes, but the law requires drivers to take all reasonable precautions to prevent accidents. This includes having your vehicle serviced regularly.
That being said, you may be able to defend against the change by showing that your vehicle had been regularly serviced and that no problems had been found in a recent safety inspection. Judges have a fair amount of discretion in reckless driving cases, so a sudden and completely unexpected brake failure is more likely to be viewed as an unfortunate accident.
Another possible avenue of defense would be to show that your vehicle's make and model had a known history of brake failure. However, this is only appropriate if you had no knowledge of the issue before the accident. If you knew of the issue and failed to correct it, you'd be considered responsible.
T. Kevin Wilson Can Help
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of a $2,500 fine, 12 months in jail, and a six-month license suspension. However, an experienced attorney can often build a case to drop or reduce the charge to a lesser offense. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.