You may be wondering: what is reckless driving? In Virginia, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the court successfully convicts you, you will face massive fines, jail time, and the potential loss of your driver’s license. This can be especially tricky for drivers outside of Virginia, as they typically have to fight these charges from long distances.
The best thing you can do is to avoid ignoring a reckless driving ticket and treat it the same as a normal traffic ticket. Being proactive in finding a knowledgeable lawyer to build a solid defense for you will go a long way for reckless driving cases. To learn more about reckless driving defenses, contact a reckless driving lawyer from the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone.
How is Reckless Driving Categorized in Virginia?
Reckless driving is not a singular charge in Virginia. Virginia considers several actions to be reckless driving. The Virginia Code has a variety of reckless driving statutes, but most charges will fall under the following three laws.
Reckless Driving- General VA Code § 46.2-852
The driving of a vehicle in any way that endangers the lives, limbs, or properties of any people irrespective of the maximum speeds that are permitted by law.
Reckless Driving- Faulty Brakes VA Code § 46.2-853
Driving a vehicle on a Virginia highway when the driver has failed to maintain adequate or proper brake adjustments, causes the vehicle to have improper control.
Reckless Driving- Excessive Speeds VA Code § 46.2-862
This entails driving a vehicle on a Virginia highway at speeds of 20 mph or more above the posted maximum speed limit or driving 85 mph or more regardless of the posted maximum speed limit.
Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction
One of the most commonly charged traffic crimes in the Commonwealth of Virginia is reckless driving through speeding. With consideration of these Virginia laws, as well as other specific statutes, a judge can punish various reckless driving behaviors. Unlike general traffic violations, Virginia courts punish reckless driving as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The court considers reckless driving to be as serious an offense as certain forms of arson, impersonating a police officer, and assault. This means you cannot simply pay the ticket you were cited for and have the reckless driving charge go away. Since it is a criminal charge, you will need the expertise of a reckless driving attorney to help you fight the charges in a Virginia court.
A Class 1 misdemeanor results in fines of up to $2500. The fine you receive can vary greatly depending on the court’s policy, your driving record, speed (if applicable), and several other factors. For a Virginia reckless driving ticket, the average fine is calculated as though it were a regular speeding ticket of $6 for every mile per hour driven over the posted speed limit, but this varies depending on the rules of the local jurisdiction.
Most people depend on their driver’s license to get to and from work, but in many cases, a judge will suspend a driver’s license if the reckless driving charge includes speeds of twice the posted limit (such as 61/30). Drivers traveling at speeds exceeding 90 mph are more apt to receive a suspended license. Drivers who have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) may also lose their license.
Generally, reckless driving is not punished with jail time. However, drivers speeding at 95 or 100 mph may face jail time. It is critical that you speak with a reckless driving lawyer to better understand how your case may be handled.
Criminal & Driving Record
If a conviction for reckless driving is successful, the driver will have a criminal record for the rest of their life, as criminal records cannot be expunged in Virginia. Out-of-state drivers are subject to the punishment given in Virginia except for a few select states. Virginia drivers are dealt six demerit points on their record, which will remain on their driving record for 11 years.
Increase in Insurance Premiums
Every insurance company has different policies for handling increases in premiums for driving infractions. The insurance company will look at a number of factors when determining if they will increase premiums due to reckless driving charges. You should speak directly with your insurance agent to understand what penalties will result from your case.
Virginia drivers who need their licenses to make a living could lose their jobs if they receive a suspended license or reckless driving conviction. Drivers with CDLs often have their license suspended when convicted of reckless driving. The driver’s prior violations will be considered before the disqualification of their CDL.
Criminal Convictions and Burdens of Proof
Reckless driving charges depend greatly on the speed the police officer’s speed radar gun captures you traveling. A common defense to reckless driving is to argue a mistake was made by either the speed gun or the police officer. The court will question the officer about what occurred during the traffic stop, including the statements you made regarding your driving.
Since your words can be used against you, you must speak cautiously during a traffic stop. Trying to justify your speeding could be used against you. Admitting to criminal behavior (even by accident) can impact the outcome of your case negatively.
Failing to appear in court will result in additional penalties. You must always attend court dates related to the charge of reckless driving. If you cannot make a court date, you or your attorney should immediately reach out to the court.
An Experienced Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help You
Reckless driving is taken very seriously in Virginia, and the consequences you could face are high. Understanding and navigating the Virginia legal system can be overwhelming for most laypersons. A reckless driving attorney can help you build a strong case to fight your charges and protect your legal rights.
An aggressive traffic violations attorney from the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone can assist you with your charges. Contact us today for a consultation via our online form.