Prince William Reckless Driving By Failure To Maintain Control Charges

A person is guilty of reckless driving by failure to maintain control when the vehicle is being driven on any highway in the commonwealth and one of the following is true:

  • The vehicle is not under what is called proper control; or
  • The vehicle has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes.

Failure to maintain control is most commonly charged when there is a witness who can say that either a person was unable to stop or that the person was driving erratically or wildly, resulting in some kind of accident. However, the charge can also occur in cases where there was no accident, but a police officer observed this kind of driving behavior. In these types of cases, a Prince William reckless driving lawyer may be able to assist in disproving the officer and demonstrating why your driving did not rise to the level of reckless.

Evidence of Failure to Control

The primary kind of evidence that will be presented in support of reckless failure to maintain control will be witness testimony, which will describe the kind of behavior that witnesses observed. This testimony can either come from a citizen witness or a police witness. In order to be prepared to cross-examine witnesses at trial, it’s important to know who is going to be testifying, what they might be saying, and what sort of opportunity they had to observe the driving behavior.

Another important piece of evidence in cases like this may be the testimony of the accused. In many cases, driving that appeared to be not under control may have an innocent explanation.

Building a Defense

There are a number of legal excuses for not having control of the vehicle. The statute says that a person must maintain the vehicle under proper control, which is different than saying that it has to be under control at all times. So yes, there are legal excuses for losing control of a vehicle.

For instance, someone might lose control of a vehicle because of a medical emergency such as a diabetic incident or some other condition that causes a loss of consciousness. Or someone may lose control when a vehicle malfunctions. In a case like that, it will be important to show that the individual properly maintained the vehicle and that the malfunction was not foreseeable.

Can It Be The Fault of the Mechanic?

A reckless failure to maintain control is not going to be the fault of a mechanic to the extent that the mechanic will actually be charged with the crime. However, if you can show that you took the vehicle to the mechanic for maintenance or repair and that faulty mechanical work caused the vehicle to malfunction, that may well serve as a defense for you.

Faulty Brakes

“Faulty brakes” means that a vehicle has brake pads or brake parts which are not functioning or which don’t function well enough to stop the vehicle in time. This often gets charged when an individual rear-ends or runs into another vehicle and it is found that the brakes weren’t properly maintained.

The best way to know that your brakes are maintained is to take your vehicle in for an annual state inspection as required by law. Beyond this, if you suspect that your brakes are wearing out because you’re having trouble slowing down, or you’re feeling wobbling or something else unusual when you try to stop, you should bring the issue to the attention of a mechanic.

Under Virginia law, you are responsible for knowing the status of the maintenance and function of any vehicle that you are driving, regardless of whether it is your vehicle or not.

Does this have anything to do with the safety inspection on your vehicle?

A brake inspection is part of the overall state safety inspection of your vehicle. Among many other things that are tested, there will be an inspection of your brakes, which includes an evaluation of stopping distance and how much useful life your brakes still have. If you pass the inspection, your brakes were functioning properly on that day. However, under most circumstances, if your brakes are nearing the end of their useful life, the mechanic who performed the inspection will tell you that they’re going to wear out prior to the next inspection.

Impact on Commercial Drivers

A failure to maintain control conviction can absolutely affect a commercial driver’s license. Like other forms of reckless driving, it is a class 1 misdemeanor that puts six points on your license. Depending on a CDL holder’s record, this charge all by itself may cause the CDL to be revoked or suspended for a period of time. A CDL holder should review his or her driving record with an attorney in advance to mitigate any impact it will have on his or her CDL or to make sure that it has no impact, if possible.

Steps An Attorney Can Take

There a number of pretrial steps an attorney will take in a failure to maintain control case, including reviewing any accident report, witness statements, officer statements and mechanics’ reports. An attorney will often also encourage you to take a driver improvement course, repair any problems with the vehicle as well as secure a copy of your driving record in advance of the trial date.