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What You Need to Know About Reckless Driving in Virginia

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It is a beautiful day in Virginia, so you roll down the car windows, turn up the radio and put the pedal to the floor. Suddenly there are red and blue flashing lights coming up fast. You nervously peek down at the speedometer and realize those lights are coming for you. Now that you have been caught speeding in Virginia and charged with reckless driving, you need to know what could happen.

Reckless driving tickets are given based off the following:

Virginia Code 46.2-862:
"A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable speed limit."

Virginia Code 46.2-852:
"Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving."

In other words, if you are caught speeding or traveling at speeds 80 mph or above, you can get a reckless driving ticket. Moreover, even if you are not speeding but caught playing around behind the wheel, driving distractedly or not paying attention, a police officer can cite you for reckless driving.

Reckless driving is a serious criminal offense:

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor - inexpugnable criminal record
  • Carries 6 DMV points
  • Potential fine of $2500
  • Potential jail sentence of 12 months
  • Potential license suspension

Yes, jail time is possible. Hiring an attorney can mitigate the worst of the damages, especially imprisonment or license suspension. The more common punishment is a restricted license. The judge will give you permission to drive for specific commuting purposes.

The long-term effects of having a reckless driving charge might be worse than the immediate fine. First, there is the insurance premium hike. Even if you are suspected of a conviction but were never actually convicted, you could experience a drastic increase. Second, if you are a commercial driver, you could lose your job. Who wants to hire a driver with a reckless driving conviction? Not only do you face unemployment, getting a new job will also be challenging. Since you have been convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor, you will now be forced to check "yes" to the application questions asking about criminal charges and convictions.

Now, let's take a look at what makes a class 1 misdemeanor an issue. There are three levels of criminal offenses in Virginia-traffic infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Traffic infractions include speeding or running the stop sign. These are not punishable with jail time, and they are not crimes, but they do go on your DMV record. Next are misdemeanors, which are crimes. The penalty for misdemeanors is based off levels. At class 1, reckless driving goes on your permanent criminal record. Felonies are last and carry possible jail time of more than one year.

If you have received a reckless driver ticket, consult with an attorney immediately. Having a lawyer with you at the hearing can lessen the penalties or keep the conviction off your record completely. And remember that the easiest way to never encounter this trouble is to obey the speed limit on Virginia roads.

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