When a police officer responds to a reported car accident, a common response is to write the driver a ticket for reckless driving. However, Virginia law is clear that the mere fact that the driver was involved in an auto accident is insufficient to prove a reckless driving case. The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver engaged in reckless conduct while operating the vehicle. Examples of recklessness include intoxication, fatigue, speeding, distraction, disregarding known roadway hazards, and operating a vehicle with a known defect in it.
In cases involving a single vehicle accident where the officer charges the driver with reckless driving, it is extremely difficult for the government to prove that the driver acted recklessly unless the driver confesses. Without any other drivers or witnesses explaining the conduct of the driver involved in the accident, evidence against the driver will be speculative at best, and will likely fall short of the beyond a reasonable doubt threshold.
In cases where there are eyewitnesses, it often remains difficult for the government to prove their case. There are a number of reasons that an accident can occur, and many of them are not due to the fault of the driver. Most accidents are just that- accidents. Without concrete proof that the driver behaved recklessly while behind wheel of the vehicle, the driver should contest their reckless driving ticket.