Reckless Driving Cases in the News

May 31, 2012 | No Comments »

Three Strikes and you are out?   

Don’t test the limits when it comes to reckless driving.

An Edinburg driver has been charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia three times since 2011.  A reckless driving charge in Virginia is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2500.00 and a six month loss of driving privileges.

The gentleman was convicted of his first offense of Reckless driving in May 2011 and fines $400 in Shenandoah County.

His second charge of reckless driving went to court on March 27, 2012. After a trial, Shenandoah County General District Court Judge Amy Tisinger ruled that his actions did not incite a race that led to the death of a passenger in another vehicle.  He was found not guilty.

The reckless driving charge that ended in acquittal earlier this year arose from an accident in December 29, 2010 on U.S. 11 just north of Woodstock. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryan King called “a pick-up” race between the defendant and the driver of a 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse crashed and ejected the passenger who was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.  A crash reconstruction investigator, testified at the trial that Eclipse was probably traveling more than 90 mph before veering off the road and smashing into rocks and an embankment.

In Virginia, many courts do not accept evidence of accident reconstruction in cases involving reckless driving.  The lack of any eyewitnesses and proof beyond a reasonable doubt led the judge to find the man not guilty.

However, just two days later, a Virginia State Police officer charged the 21 year old man with Reckless Driving again.  The officer saw the man “popping wheelies” on his motorcycle on Reservoir Road and Hisey Avenue around 1 p.m. in Shenandoah County.  As a result, he was charged with Reckless Driving under Virginia code section 46.2-852.

The accused, Sean Michael Ratcliffe is scheduled to appear in General District Court at 2 p.m. July 31.

Speaking of testing the limits…

A Charlton New York man was facing felony eluding, reckless driving, and speeding charges back on May 3, 2012 when New York State Police clocked him at 170 MPH on his motorcycle, but on Wednesday night he plead guilty to only a misdemeanor charges of reckless driving.

The New York Judge sentenced the young man to ‘time already served’ (20 days) and a minimum of one year’s license suspension.

In most jurisdictions in Northern Virginia like Fairfax and Loudoun, most judges consider putting people in jail for one day for each mile per hour a driver exceeds 90 mph.  So a Fairfax County judge, if they followed that standard, may have considered putting the young man in jail for 80 days.

Assistant District Attorney Jasper Mills talked about how the motorcyclist was actually caught.  Mills said, “He ran out of gas. That’s what stopped him.”

And after hearing that he was clocked at such a high rate of speed, on a bike, just about everyone who has heard this story seemed amazed that adrenaline junkie is still alive.  But, when FOX23 News caught up with him on his way out of a Ravena, NY  courtroom, he  promised to hit that high rate of speed again.

While still in handcuffs, and heading into a waiting Albany County Sheriff’s Department van, McCarthy said, “I’m feeling good! I’m going home! You’ll see me on the race track.” When asked if he was at all worried about his own ‘personal safety’ at that speed, he said, “When you’re going that fast on a motorcycle, you make your own peace with God.”

 

What limits?  More New York motorcyclists and Reckless Driving

Authorities say a 28-year-old man in upstate New York has been charged with driving his motorcycle at nearly 193 mph on a highway in the rain.

State police say a trooper clocked a Poughkeepsie man driving at 193 mph around 8 p.m. Wednesday in the southbound lanes of Interstate 87 just south of Albany, NY, the same stretch of road where another motorcyclist was spotted doing 166 mph earlier this month.

The driver was issued 14 traffic tickets.

Many bikes on the market today are designed to go up to 180 mph, but for use on the race track, not the street.   A motorcycle shop owner admits there are some people who just have a ‘need for speed,’ but again made the point that endangering lives by speeding out on the road is not the way to do it.

“Someone who needs that type of adrenaline rush needs to do it on a race track where it’s safer for them, and it’s safer for just the normal motorists who are just out there driving correctly,” he said.

 

But I wasn’t even driving….

Involuntary Manslaughter Trial continued for NC bus dispatcher that allegedly caused Virginia bus crash

A North Carolina bus dispatcher will stand trial in Virginia in October on charges stemming from a wreck that killed four passengers.

The Caroline County Circuit Court clerk says the trial of Zhao Jian Chen was continued on Wednesday from its original June court date. The two-day trial is now set to begin Oct. 30.

In March, Chen pleaded not guilty to four involuntary manslaughter counts stemming from the May 31, 2011, crash on Interstate 95 about 30 miles north of Richmond.  The driver of the bus for Sky Express, Mr. Cheung, was charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia by the State Police.

Prosecutor Tony Spencer has said Chen, the bus dispatcher, told Sky Express driver Kin Yiu Cheung of New York to continue driving after Cheung told him he was too tired.

Cheung’s bus swerved off the highway, hit an embankment and overturned. He originally faced Virginia Reckless Driving charges, but the prosecutor sought involuntary manslaughter charges after the further investigation.

 

26 Bus Services Shut Down by US Department of Transportation

The US Department of Transportation began a crackdown on 26 bus agencies for “serious safety threats”.  The year long investigation began after 4 people died in a bus crash in Virginia.  The driver of the bus was allegedly tired and was first charged with Reckless Driving under Virginia code 46.2-852.  Later the charges were changed to involuntary manslaughter.

FMCSA shut down a total of 26 bus operations that run along the East Coast in what they’re calling the agency’s largest safety crackdown ever, citing a “serious safety threat to passengers and motorists on our roadways.”

FMCSA uncovered a pattern of safety violations including drivers operating without commercial licenses, vehicles that were not regularly inspected and repaired and companies that didn’t enforce alcohol and drug tests.

These companies take advantage of poor customers who cannot afford cars and could not otherwise travel along the East Coast. They offer service on what Transportation Secretary LaHood calls “very, very poorly equipped buses,” with drivers who in some cases are not properly trained or properly rested.

“People don’t think about safety. That’s our job,” says LaHood of the millions of travelers every year who get on board a coach, airplane, train or car and don’t consider the safety implications. “We want to make sure it’s safe.”

Some of the companies operated routes out of Chinatown in D.C. and Chinatown in New York City.

The companies transported over 1,800 passengers a year on Interstate 95 between New York and Florida, according to DOT.  New Century bus line was one company affected by the crackdown.

New Century has multiple routes out of the D.C. area. They provide routes from Richmond and D.C. to New York City and Philadelphia, and from Baltimore to New York City.



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