Reckless driving in Virginia is a criminal misdemeanor offense (Class 1 misdemeanor). It carries six DMV points and serious long-term consequences.
Penalties for Reckless Driving in VA
The maximum penalties for a reckless driving conviction in Virginia are:
- Six (6) DMV points
- $2,500 fine
- 6 months driver’s license suspension
- 12 months jail time
A Virginia Reckless driving conviction will result in being convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to Virginia Code Section 18.2-11. The maximum statutory penalty for a class one misdemeanor is twelve (12) months in jail, six months suspension of your Virginia driver’s license or six months plus a fine of $2,500.
If you are an out of state driver and you are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia, your privilege to drive in Virginia will be suspended for up to six months. Additionally, the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be notified by the Court of your license being suspended in Virginia and DMV, in turn, will most likely report your license suspension to the state that you are licensed in. This may cause you a problem because most states that issue a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle will honor notice of suspensions from other states and suspend the driving privileges of the driver in that state as well.
Also, a significant portion of our clients is out of state professional truck drivers who have a commercial driver license (CDL) to worry about and have a hard time making it to court to defend a reckless driving charge in Virginia. We work closely with our clients who have CDL to protect by trying to go to court without them when possible and defend them against a reckless driving charge.
Note: What was stated earlier was the maximum penalty. Rarely is the maximum penalty imposed in every conviction of reckless driving in Virginia. Some courts in Virginia are known to be harsher than other courts in Virginia. Some examples of courts that are known for their tough sentences are Fairfax County VA Courts, Falls Church City VA Court, Arlington County VA Courts, Fairfax City VA Court and the City of Virginia Beach Courts. For example, the rule of thumb in the Fairfax County VA Courts & Fairfax City VA Court is that if you are charged with reckless driving at a speed in excess of 80 mph, you will lose your license. If you are charged with reckless driving at a speed in excess of 90 miles per hour, you will lose your liberty.
Will a reckless driving conviction in Virginia cause me to lose my security clearance?
The honest answer is probably not. However, depending on the type of job, this may affect whether you receive further security clearances. The safest answer is for you to talk with your HR department or your supervisor as to whether a conviction for reckless driving in Virginia will affect your security clearance. Of course, if one of our expert VA reckless driving defense lawyers is able to knock the VA reckless driving charge to a lesser traffic charge, then you probably don’t have to worry about talking to your job about the VA reckless driving charge.
As a side note, the VA reckless driving attorneys of SRIS, P.C. are extremely cognizant that a large number of our clients work for the government or private businesses that require security clearances. Therefore, when they talk with their clients, they take the time to learn more about each client to determine if a security clearance is going to be an issue that they will have to deal with in court.
Is there any way a reckless driving charge in Virginia may be lowered to a lesser charge or can it be beaten outright?
s commonly known as traffic school and upon completion of the course, have the VA reckless driving charged lowered to a lesser charge and in some cases even completely dismissed (Although this is pretty rare.) Some of the most commonly requested items the attorneys of SRIS, P.C. ask their clients for is a written version of the incident shortly prior to the being charged and everything that occurred while the officer was charging the client with reckless driving and a copy of the clients driving record.
Frequently, the Virginia police officer or Virginia state trooper who stops an out of state client in Virginia will not get the driving record for that out of state driver. The driving record is critical because if the client has an excellent driving record, then the attorneys of SRIS, P.C. will have an additional factor to try and plea bargain the VA reckless driving charge to a lesser charge.
If the plea bargaining is successful, the prosecutor may agree to reduce the reckless driving charge to a lesser charge. However, the judge has to still approve the deal struck by the prosecutor and the lawyer. Most judges will approve the deal, but there is no requirement the judge has to take the deal.
If a plea bargain is not possible because some prosecutors will not plea bargain on reckless driving based on speed, then trial is the only option. The law in Virginia requires the officer who wrote the ticket to follow a series of steps to prove that they charged the right person with reckless driving. Some of the factors, the Virginia reckless driving attorneys of SRIS, P.C. look at when defending a client charged with reckless driving by speed in Virginia is whether the police officer used:
The Virginia reckless driving attorneys of SRIS, P.C. will also determine whether the officer’s calibration is current.
Also, if you believe your speed was caused by the speedometer not functioning properly, then you owe it to yourself to have your speedometer calibrated. If you are able to prove that your speedometer was not working properly at the time you were charged with reckless driving in Virginia and you did know it was not working properly, then this may assist in your defense.
What can I do if I get a horrible penalty in the Juvenile District Court of Virginia or General District Court of Virginia?
If you have been convicted of a reckless driving in Virginia in the lower courts, you have an automatic right of appeal to the Circuit Court of that jurisdiction. After you file an appeal, you can have the matter set for a bench trial or a jury trial. Depending on the facts of your case, we will advise you as to what you should consider doing. If you elect to have a jury trial in Circuit Court, you will be judged by a jury of your peers. This may seem like you have a very good chance of not getting a harsh penalty or even possibly getting the case dismissed but remember, if the jury does not like you for some reason, then they can give you the maximum penalty.
Can I be charged with reckless driving in Virginia for simply being in a fender bender accident?
Yes, even a simple fender bender accident can result in being charged with reckless driving in Virginia. Again, please remember that a charge of reckless driving in Virginia can be challenged in Court.
Definition of Reckless Driving in Virginia
The Virginia Courts define reckless driving in Virginia as an operation of a motor vehicle in such a manner that endangers life, limb or property.
Reckless Driving In Virginia Will Result In Points And Can Be Any Of The Following:
- Driving a vehicle which that is not under control or has faulty brakes.
- Passing a vehicle on a curve or on the crest of hill where the driver’s view is obstructed.
- Driving with the driver’s view obstructed or control impaired.
- Driving two abreast in a single lane.
- Passing another vehicle at a railroad grade crossing.
- Passing a school bus while discharging children.
- Failing to give proper signals.
- Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions.
- Failing to yield the right-of-way.
- Speeding recklessly.
Virginia Reckless Driving Statute
§ 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of 20 miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of 80 miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
Virginia law also criminalizes various other forms of driving behaviors as reckless driving as follows:
- 46.2-854 Passing on a grade or on a curve
- 46.2-855 Driving with View obstructed
- 46.2-856 Passing two vehicles abreast
- 46.2-857 Driving two abreast in a single lane
- 46.2-858 Passing at a railroad grade crossing
- 46.2-859 Passing a stopped school bus
- 46.2-860 Failing to give proper signals
- 46.2-861 Driving too fast for conditions
- 46.2-863 Failure to yield
- 46.2-864 Recklessness on parking lots, etc
- 46.2-865 Racing
- 46.2-865.1 Racing penalties
- 46.2-866 Racing; aiders or abettors
- 46.2-867 Racing; seizure of motor vehicle
- 46.2-868.1 Aggressive Driving
If you have been charged with reckless driving in Virginia, contact the Law Offices of SRIS, P.C. to get the expert representation you deserve.