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When speeding becomes reckless

| Sep 10, 2020 | Traffic Violations |

Not all incidents of speeding incur reckless driving charges, and not all reckless driving incidents involve speeding. However, speed limits are in place partly to help drivers maintain a velocity that is safe for the typical conditions on a given stretch of road. In certain situations, exceeding the speed limit may constitute recklessness.

Understanding why speeding sometimes rises to the level of reckless driving requires a better comprehension of how and why speed limits come into being.

When does speeding incur reckless driving charges?

According to the Code of Virginia, driving more than 20 miles per hour over the applicable maximum speed limit amounts to reckless driving, for which authorities can file criminal charges. A driver can also face reckless driving charges for operating a vehicle in excess of 85 miles per hour, irrespective of the speed limit.

What if a stretch of road does not have a posted speed limit?

Where there is no speed limit posted, statutory speed limits apply. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, the General Assembly establishes different statutory speed limits for different areas:

  • Residential areas: 25 miles per hour
  • Unpaved roads: 35 miles per hour
  • Most highways: 55 miles per hour
  • Trucks on routes numbered 600 or higher: 45 miles per hour

Operating a vehicle in excess of the statutory speed limits can still incur charges of reckless driving.

How can a driver find out what the statutory speed limits are in a certain area?

The VDOT maintains maps of posted speed limits and records of statutory speed limits, including any changes to the latter that the General Assembly makes. A driver can obtain these records from VDOT upon request.