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Thread: Va. Court of Appeals tosses reckless driving conviction in fatal crash

  1. #1
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    Default Va. Court of Appeals tosses reckless driving conviction in fatal crash

    The Virginia Court of Appeals has tossed a Fauquier County jury's conviction of a driver for reckless driving. The driver struck a stopped motorcyclist, who was waiting to make a legal left-hand turn, and who was fatally injured. Rear-ended him at 47 mph in broad daylight. A State Police investigation determined the motorcyclist was plainly visible for at least 700 feet and that the driver did not slow. To make this post relevant, one assumes in a similar set of facts involving a cyclist, the Virginia courts would rule similarly.

    The court found that operating a motor vehicle in such a fashion did not rise to recklessness. The court reasoned that a reckless charge is only supported if the driver both foresaw the results of his actions and failed to take action.

    From Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists:

    In coming to its decision, the court noted that reckless driving requires more than mere negligence. The court stated that [T]he reckless actor is aware of the risk and disregards it; the negligent actor is not aware of the risk but should have been aware of it. The Court concluded that the driver who killed Raleigh Gary Nelson while he was stopped on his motorcycle fell into the latter category rather than the former.

    Back in 2014, VCOM attempted to change state law to make killing or gravely injuring another person in a crash per se reckless driving in most situations, just as it is for being cited for speeding at over 80 mph. Reckless driving is currently punishable by up to a $2500 fine and 1 year in jail.

    The case is Cady v. Commonwealth.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Cannot disagree with the court ruling. Being "reckless" involves intentional action, not inaction. BTW, the 80mph has been raised to 85mph.

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    The motorcyclist was struck while waiting to turn left into his own driveway, i.e, not at an intersection.

    I've become very wary about being stopped in the road on two wheels in similar situations, in places where drivers are not expecting it. I was hit on my motorcycle while waiting to turn left at such an "unusual" location. In retrospect, getting a shot of that "Welcome to Illinois" sign was definitely not worth it. Thankfully I was not hit by a driver traveling 47 mph. The motorcycle was still rideable (barely) but the subframe was bent by the impact, and the tailpiece bodywork was mangled. Driver claimed she "didn't see me until it was too late."

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    I used to ride (motorcycle) as well and finally gave up as I realized there simply isn't enough ridership for average drivers to learn how to co-exist with motorcycles. This and the fact that most drivers lack even the basic car control skills, getting hit/killed is just a matter of time.

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