Visitor Question

Fell Asleep at the Wheel…

Submitted By: Jasmin (Virginia)

I had ended my server shift at a popular chain restaurant at 2pm and was on my way to a college to get information about their nursing program. I was driving on a single lane road and the other side was a single lane with oncoming traffic.

I fell asleep at the wheel and went into the other lane. The car coming honked their horn and I awoke and was able to turn the wheel, but I still hit the car slightly. The other driver was not injured and was able to drive his car away. I was given a paper to appear at court for negligent driving.

I will be moving out of the state where the accident happened in a week with my 12 month old daughter. I will return for the court date but I was wondering what could occur at that hearing? I’m returning to attend the court date without my daughter and need to know what’s the worse that can happen to me? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Jasmin,

Jasmin:

From the facts you present it would seem you may be overly concerned about the upcoming court hearing. You were quite fortunate no one was seriously injured, or worse, perished as a result of your driving into oncoming traffic.

The State of Virginia does not have a traffic violation called “Negligent Driving”. We suspect you may be referring to Virginia’s Reckless Driving statute.

In Virginia, Reckless Driving is a Class One Misdemeanor Criminal Charge, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, and a possible loss of your Virginia driving privilege for up to six months.

In addition, you could be arrested and have your car impounded at the discretion of the police officer at the scene for committing this offense.

There are several types of Reckless Driving offenses in Virginia. You were probably accused of one of the violations below. Each one carries the penalties mentioned above.

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.

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.

When you appear for court there may be several outcomes. We already know you were not arrested, nor was your car impounded. The state will not change that once you appear on court. It is more likely if you enter a plea of “Guilty” or “No Contest” you will likely receive a substantial fine, and a possible suspension of your Virginia driver’s license.

Do not be concerned about being arrested during the upcoming court hearing because you may not have enough money with you to pay the fine. In Virginia the courts (Judges) are permitted within their discretion to give the defendant a payment plan.

If you enter a plea of “Not Guilty” your case will be set for trial. This means not only will you have to return to the court at a later date, but run the risk of being convicted and being sentenced to a substantial fine with a very remote possibility of being sentenced to a short jail term.

Do not worry! You can be comfortable knowing you should be home before lunch.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: July 17, 2011

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