If you drive long enough on Northern Virginia roads, the odds are that you will be involved in some type of automobile accident. In 2014, for example, there were over 120,000 reportable (meaning that there was injury, death, or property damage of over $1500) traffic accidents in Virginia and there was a reportable accident every 4.37 minutes. Statistically speaking, one out of every 26.64 drivers was involved in a crash in 2014. To most, this is a mind-boggling number. Of course, there are some of these that are true accidents and no one is really at fault. However, in the vast majority, at least one of the parties involved in the crash is seen to be at fault for causing the accident. While many of the at-fault parties will be ticketed and sent on their way, a fair number of these accidents will result in serious charges in Virginia. What is the difference between the accidents that result in traffic tickets and those that result in criminal charges being brought?
Alcohol Related Crashes
Crashes that involve drinking and driving are the first type that usually pop into one’s mind that can involve criminal charges and rightly so. There were almost 25,000 convictions for DUI in 2014 in Virginia. However, less than 6,000 of those crashes were caused by an impaired driver. This being said, though, DUI convictions can carry stiff penalties. A DUI itself is a Class One misdemeanor and carries a potential of 12 months in jail. A DUI accident can carry far stiffer penalties. Depending on the circumstances (including the driver’s past history, severity of any injuries, and driving behaviors), a DUI accident can result in charges that are serious felonies and have even resulted in murder charges being brought in some cases.
Reckless Driving Crashes
Reckless driving is punished severely in Virginia as well. Reckless driving, either by speed or by disregard for limb or property, is typically a Class Two misdemeanor. There are cases, though, in which the actions of the driver are particularly egregious or there is serious injury or death, that can rise to the level of a felony. An example of this would be a driver driving 75 miles per hour in a school zone and causing an accident resulting in serious injury or death. The actions of the driver are so egregious that, most likely, felony charges would result.
Aggressive Driving Crashes
Accidents caused by aggressive driving are usually charged as a misdemeanor. An aggressive driver who, for example, passes a long line of cars and causes an accident will be charged with at least a Class Two misdemeanor. There is a long list of behaviors in Virginia that qualify as aggressive driving and if an accident occurs because of this behavior, chances are good that criminal charges will result.
Virginia is known for being tough on drivers. While in some cases this harshness may be justified, in others it is not. If you find yourself facing a criminal charge because of a traffic accident in Northern Virginia, you are looking at a life-changing event. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you defend your rights. Jad Sarsour has been defending Northern Virginians for over a decade from the myriad of charges that can result from traffic accidents. Give him a call today at (571) 261-7314 to set up your initial consultation. He has the experience and ability to zealously defend your rights in any kind of traffic case.