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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    4

    Default Reckless Vs. Improper Driving In Virginia

    I'm not sure I understand completely the Reckless/Improper driving charge, here is the story:

    My son (age 17-will be 18 in July) was leaving school yesterday afternoon. Beautiful, clear day. Another student was in front of him, and seems very unsure of the braking distances in front of her (lots of quick, jumpy braking on her part)and we have since fond out she just got her 'hard copy' license the day before. She braked hard one too many times and my son rear-ended her. (I have informed him anytime you are around someone driving like that, stay as far away from them as possible). Everyone was fine, they drove to a nearby gas station to wait for the deputy to arrive, she even opened her trunk got her some of her personal stuff-I am not an adjuster so I can only assume bumper damage only.

    My son has never been in an accident and was very shook up. As a matter of fact, he was in such a fog he called me to ask what to do, and I talked him through it step by step and even called the deputies myself from two counties over from work. He told the cop that his brakes didnt work right. Well poor choice of wording on his part and got a ticket for "46.2-853 Improper Control-Bad Brakes" (That is what is written on his summons) My son is obviously inexperienced with accidents and driving-only having his license for maybe a year now. After talking with him last night we have discovered that his brakes not working right was probably him panicking and hitting them too hard, thus locking them up. So they didn't work like he would have liked them too would have been a better articulated comment.

    My husband personally replaced those brakes before inspection and they obviously work fine due to him being able to relocate the car after the accident and the deputy let him drive home-would a police officer have let him drive anywhere with bad brakes??

    Anyways, they are taking the car to a mechanic to have the brakes certified that they are infact in good working condition. My son is effectly grounded until we get this court date squared away. He has taken our insurances driving class online-finished the sessions last night, on advice from my agent. And I think the one offered on the DMV site would be a plus as well. My insurance has obviously been contacted and they will fix the young girls car. I am thinking that instead of the insurance company fixing his, I am going to have him take care of it, so he can feel the inconvience and hardship this kind of thing entails.

    He does have his own policy which is kinda splintered off from mine so I am not too worried about rates, those are his to bare. Me and my husband will accompany him in court and I am leaning towards an attorney not being necessary at this point. But the reckless driving thing is bugging me, is that what he is charged with? A 6 point offense up there with DUI? My son was shook up, and didn't articulate himself very well; he is a good kid, good grades a senior looking forward to college and this kind of mistake seems blown out of proportion, any advice?

    I'm sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give you a clear picture of the situation. I thank anyone who made it this far and can offer suggestions/answers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,577

    Default Re: Reckless Vs. Improper Driving? (Gloucester County, Virginia)

    I'm sorry, but I still don't have a very "clear picture" of the situation. Are you saying that your son received a ticket for "Improper Control-Bad Brakes" AND ANOTHER for reckless/improper driving?

    And another question, were they in the school parking lot, or out on the street? The reason I ask is that § 46.2-853 states
    Quote Quoting § 46.2-853
    Driving vehicle which is not under control; faulty brakes.

    A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a vehicle which is not under proper control or which has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes on any highway in the Commonwealth.
    Please note that this is TOTALLY different from reckless driving:
    Quote Quoting § 46.2-852
    Reckless driving; general rule.

    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.
    So, if he was only given the one citation, it was for the brakes.

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    4

    Default Re: Reckless Vs. Improper Driving? (Gloucester County, Virginia)

    He only recieved the "Improper Control-Bad Brakes" citation, and was on the road after leaving the parking lot-so yes he was on a highway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    4

    Default Re: Reckless Vs. Improper Driving? (Gloucester County, Virginia)

    Guess I should add that this particular numbered citation looks like it is a reckless driving violation from every code I have read, so I guess even tho it doesn't say reckless driving, it still is?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
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    Default Re: Reckless Vs. Improper Driving In Virginia

    While the statute says that bad brakes or lack of control constitutes "reckless driving", it is still up to the state to PROVE one or both of these elements. Since the officers did not witness the incident (at least not by your recitation), they cannot testify about what happened. They can only testify about what they saw after they arrived and what your son TOLD them. They also cannot testify about what the OTHER driver said.

    If you have a certificate from a mechanic, that should offset the "bad brakes" element. In order to prove the "lack of control" element, the other driver would have to testify against your son. In my experience, such witnesses rarely show up in court, especially if the damage to their vehicle has been taken care of.

    As I mentioned, this is not a case of an officer witnessing your son's reckless behavior.

    But, yes, it is "reckless driving" by statute and is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    4

    Default Re: Reckless Vs. Improper Driving In Virginia

    UPDATE:
    Went to court today, received pretty much what I expected. Either my son was extremely nervous or he truly has no concept of spacial boundaries (Little of both I think) but he did a piss poor job of explaining himself and his actions. But be that as it may-guilty of improper control-bad brakes, suspended with probation for 6 months, driver improvement clinic and a return trip to court in November. Should he remain clean of incidents/tickets/infractions and get his certificate he should be clear then.

    Interestingly enough, I found it odd to even be there as I couldn't say anything for him, or help in his defense to help explain things...guess I was there to make sure I knew what was going on. I will say this, I hope my blood pressure can return to normal soon.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Seattle
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    Default Re: Reckless Vs. Improper Driving In Virginia

    Not a bad outcome, all things considered -- certainly not the worst-case scenario. Yep, it can be nerve-racking. That's why I sat through several days of court before I had to go in on my own case. But, I'm sure he appreciated your being there, even if it was just for moral support.

    Thanks for letting us know,
    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

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