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An Educated Client is the Best Client - Get Your Virginia DUI Questions Answered Here

Many people who have been cited for reckless driving or arrested for drunk driving in Virginia have common questions, and our Manassas DUI defense lawyers developed this section on our website to educate, inform and help you through this difficult time. When you are facing a challenging case, look for your answers here. If you cannot locate the answer to your specific question, please give us a call, and our qualified Northern Virginia criminal defense attorneys will answer your legal questions.

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  • What are the differences between simple Speeding and Reckless Driving Speeding in Virginia?

    Under the Virginia Code, although both Speeding and Reckless Driving are offenses based on speed, there are significant differences between what we call simple Speeding and Reckless Driving Speeding.  First, there is a difference in the severity of the offenses: simple Speeding is merely a traffic infraction, but Reckless Driving Speeding is a misdemeanor criminal offense.  In addition, since simple Speeding and Reckless Driving Speeding fall into different offense categories, they also carry different punishments: simple Speeding is punishable by only a fine, but Reckless Driving Speeding is punishable by a fine, incarceration and a suspension of your privilege / license to drive in Virginia.  Since both simple Speeding and Reckless Driving Speeding are both considered moving violations in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (Virginia DMV) will assess demerit points for conviction of either offense.  However, simple Speeding can carry three demerit points, four demerit points or six demerit points depending on the actual speed, but Reckless Driving Speeding always carries six demerit points.  

    If you have been accused of a Virginia Reckless Driving offense, Manassas, Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, T. Kevin Wilson and The Wilson Law Firm can help you.

  • What is the definition of Reckless Driving in Virginia?

    Under Virginia Motor Vehicle Code, the term Reckless Driving includes several different acts, so the answer to this question is somewhat lengthy.  The two types of Reckless Driving most commonly charged in Virginia are Reckless Driving based on speed (46.2-862) and Reckless Driving based on being involved in an accident (46.2-852 or 46.2-853).  Although most of the statutes dealing with Reckless Driving offenses in Virginia set out acts which are quite specific, there are a few Reckless Driving offenses in Virginia which are vague and subjective.  Several sections of Virginia's Motor Vehicle Code which deal with Reckless Driving in Virginia are set out below.  

    46.2-852 is the catch-all statute that says that irrespective of speed limits, driving a motor vehicle on public roads in a way that endangers other people or property it is Reckless Driving in Virginia. 

    46.2-853 says it is Reckless Driving in Virginia to drive a vehicle which is not under proper control or has inadequately adjusted brakes. 

    46.2-854 defines Reckless Driving in  Virginia as passing another vehicle approaching the crest of a hill or a curve where the view is obstructed. 

    46.2-855 makes it Reckless Driving in Virginia to drive with the view to the front or sides obstructed or to drive while something or someone is interfering with the driver's control of the driving mechanism. 

    46.2-856 indicates that passing or attempting to pass two vehicles abreast is Reckless Driving in Virginia. 

    46.2-857 says driving abreast of another vehicle in a lane designed for one vehicle is Reckless Driving in Virginia. 

    46.2-858 defiines Reckless Driving in Virginia as passing or overtaking another vehicle at a railroad crossing or at an intersection. 

    46.2-859 includes within the definition of Reckless Driving in Virginia, the act of passing a stopped school bus under certain circumstances.

    46.2-860 says failing to give adequate and timely signals of the intention to turn, slow or stop is Reckless Driving in Virginia.

    46.2-861 is another catch-all code section, making it the offense of Reckless Driving in Virginia to exceed a reasonable speed considering the circumstances and traffic at the time. 

    46.2-862 is the Reckless Driving offense in Virginia dealing with speed - making it Reckless Driving to drive at a speed 20 mph over the speed limit, or in excess of 80 mph.  

    46.2-863 describes the circumstances under which failing to yield the right of way can amount to Reckless Driving in Virginia.  

    46.2-864 is a twist on the catch-all offense set out in 46.2-852, in that it also makes illegal and defines as Reckless Driving in Virginia any driving which endangers people or property, but where 46.2-852 is limited to operation on public roads, 46.2-864 includes churches, schools, recreational facilities, business property, roads under construction, etc. 

    46.2-865 discusses racing as Reckless Driving in Virginia. 

    Contact a Virginia Reckless Driving Attorney To Represent You

    If you have been accused of a Virginia Reckless Driving offense, Manassas, Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, T. Kevin Wilson and The Wilson Law Firm can help you. Call us at (703) 361-6100 to learn about your options, click here to download our free book The DUI/DWI Arrest Survival Guide! or start a chat right now .

  • Can a lawyer handlethe arraignmentfor me in Virginia or will I actually be required to appear in court for the arraignment?

    It depends.  Many Virginia courts do not require someone accused of Reckless Driving under the Virginia Code to appear for the arraignment, as long as an attorney has been hired and the lawyer takes the necessary steps to excuse the accused from having to appear.  Some Virginia courts require the lawyer who has been retained to appear in court on behalf of the client, while other Virginia courts simply require the lawyer to file a formal notice with the court informing the court that the lawyer will be representing the accused.  In any event, as the person accused of Reckless Driving in Virginia, the best and safest course of action is to assume that you must appear in court for the arraignment unless you hire a lawyer and have been assured by the lawyer that your appearance is not necessary.  

    If you have been accused of a Virginia Reckless Driving offense, Manassas, Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, T. Kevin Wilson and The Wilson Law Firm can help you.

  • I was told by the officer that I can not simply pay a fine for my Virginia Reckless Driving charge and avoid coming to court. Is this tr

    Yes, it is true.  In Virginia you can not simply pay a fine for Reckless Driving and avoid coming to court like you could if you were charged with simple Speeding or some other traffic infraction.  Remember, unlike simple Speeding, Reckless Driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense for which you could be fined, jailed and have your license / privilege to drive in Virginia suspended. 

    If you have been accused of a Virginia Reckless Driving offense, Manassas, Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, T. Kevin Wilson and The Wilson Law Firm can help you.
     

  • I was told by the officer that I actually have to come to court to deal with my Virginia Reckless Driving charge. Is this true, and if so, why do I have to come all the way back to Virginia to appear in court?

    Sort of.  In Virginia, if you are charged with Reckless Driving, or any other criminal offense, the law requires you to appear in court to answer the charge.  The rule makes sense when you consider the fact that as a misdemeanor criminal offense, the possible punishments for Reckless Driving in Virginia include the imposition of a jail sentence.  Since it is impossible to incarcerate someone who is not present before the court, the law requires persons accused of Reckless Driving to appear in court.  Signing the summons / ticket is a promise to appear in court in Virginia to answer the Reckless Driving charge.    

    However, as a practical matter, everyone convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia is not incarcerated, so in some situations it is possible to hire a Virginia lawyer to appear in court on your behalf and handle the case in your absence - without the need for you to actually come to court.  If you have been accused of Reckless Driving in Virginia, you should discuss this with your lawyer and determine whether you need to appear in court.   

    If you have been accused of a Virginia Reckless Driving offense, Manassas, Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, T. Kevin Wilson and The Wilson Law Firm can help you.

  • What are the possible punishments for Reckless Driving in Virginia?

    Section 46.2-868 of the Virginia Motor Vehicle Code classifies Reckless Driving in Virginia as a class 1 misdemeanor criminal offense.  Section 18.2-11 of the Virginia Code sets out the possible punishments:  incarceration for up to one year and the imposition of a fine of up to $2,500.00.

    In addition to the possibility of being sentenced to pay a fine and serve time in jail, one convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia may also suffer a suspension of the license / privilege to drive in Virginia.  Although the maximum period of suspension for most Reckless Driving offenses in Virginia is six months (see 46.2-392 & 46.2-393), if one is convicted of Racing in Virginia, the minimum period of license suspension is six months and the maximum is two years. 

    If you have been accused of a Virginia Reckless Driving offense, Manassas, Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, T. Kevin Wilson and The Wilson Law Firm can help you.    

  • If I am convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia, am I going to be put in jail?

    Much like with the question about having a license suspension imposed by a Virginia court, the answer to this question is maybe.  Some offenders convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia are incarcerated.  Others are not.  As with any case before a Virginia court, the punishment imposed depends upon the facts and circumstances of the particular case.  There are several factors which come into play when determining an appropriate punishment for a particular case.  A few of the most common factors considered by Virginia courts include the risk and danger presented by the specific driving behavior, the damage and injury caused by the specific driving behavior and the driving history of the offender.

    For example, a simple rear end motor vehicle accident in Virginia in which there are no injuries, and a very serious motor vehicle accident in Virginia involving a fatality could both be the basis of a Virginia Reckless Driving conviction.  However, for obvious reasons, they would likely result in different punishments being imposed by a Virginia court.  

    Similarly, driving at 85 mph on a Virginia interstate in the middle of the night with no other traffic on the road, and driving at 85 mph through a Virginia residential neighborhood could both support a Reckless Driving conviction in Virginia, but again, would likely result in different punishments being imposed by a Virginia court.  

    Lastly, assume two offenders were found guilty of Virginia Reckless Driving Speeding for driving 85 mph on the interstate in Virginia at the same time.  However, assume one offender had a perfect driving history and had never received a ticket in 25 years of driving in Virginia, and the other had only been licensed for 3 years and had already accumulated several convictions for Speeding in Virginia.  Even though these two offenders committed the exact same Reckless Driving offense, a Virginia court would likely impose very different punishments. 

    Offenders who engage in more dangerous behavior in Virginia, cause more injury and damage in Virginia, and have previous convictions are more likely to be incarcerated than offenders who engage in less dangerous behavior, cause less injury and damage, and have a clean driving record. 

    If you have been accused of a Virginia Reckless Driving offense, Manassas, Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, T. Kevin Wilson and The Wilson Law Firm can help you.

  • If I am convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia, am I going to lose my license?

    Much like with the question about being incarcerated, the answer to this question is maybe.  Some motorists who are found guilty of Reckless Driving in Virginia receive jail sentences, but others don't.  Just like with all the other cases which come before a Virginia court, the court will weigh several factors in order to determine the appropriate punishment for any given case.  The court will look to the various facts and circumstances of the particular case, and after considering a variety of factors, including the danger to the public presented by the specific driving behavior involved, any property damage or personal injury caused and the driving history of the motorist.

    For example, simply passing another vehicle on a double yellow line which did not cause an accident, and passing on a double yellow line and causing an accident in which someone was injured or killed could both be the basis of a Reckless Driving conviction in Virginia.  However, for obvious reasons, they would likely result in different punishments being imposed by a Virginia court.  

    Similarly, driving at 85 mph on the interstate in the middle of the night with no other traffic on the road, and driving at 85 mph through a residential neighborhood could both support a Reckless Driving conviction in Virginia, but again, would likely result in different punishments being imposed by .  

    Lastly, assume two motorists, one behind the other, committed the same offense at the same time - whether it be passing a stopped school bus, speeding 20 mph over the speed limit or passing on a double yellow line - and both were convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia.  However, assume one offender had a spotless driving record, had never been pulled over in 20 years of driving and had a +5 point balance with the Virginia DMV, and the other offender, despite only having been driving for 3 years, had already accumulated several convictions for Speeding in Virginia and had a -10 point balance with the Virginia DMV.  Even though these two offenders committed the exact same offense under the same circumstances, the significant difference in their driving records would likely cause a Virginia court to impose very different punishments. 

    Motorists who engage in more dangerous behavior in Virginia, cause personal injury and property damage in Virginia, have previously been convicted of moving violations and have negative point balances with the Virginia DMV are more likely to have the court impose a license suspension than motorists who commit less serious and less dangerous offenses in Virginia, don't cause personal injury or property damage in Virginia, and have clean driving records and positive point balances with the Virginia DMV. 

    If you have been accused of a Virginia Reckless Driving offense, Manassas, Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, T. Kevin Wilson and The Wilson Law Firm can help you.

  • If I end up being convicted of a drunk driving in Virginia, am I going to lose my license?

    Yes, but don't panic yet.  Every conviction for a drunk driving offense in Virginia triggers a mandatory suspension of your license.  If your license was not issued by Virginia, a conviction for DUI / DWI in Virginia will result in a mandatory suspension of your privilege to drive in Virginia.

  • How long are we talking? How long will my license (or privilege) to drive in Virginia be suspended following a DUI / DWI conviction?

    It depends on whether it is your first DUI / DWI offense, second DUI / DWI offense or third (or more) DUI / DWI offense.  A conviction for drunk driving in Virginia results in mandatory suspension of the license (or privilege) to drive in Virginia as set forth below:  

    • 1st offense.................................12 month suspension
    • 2nd offense in 10 years...................3 year suspension
    • 3rd (or more) offense in 10 years......indefinite suspension

    If you have been arrested and accused of Driving Under the Influence, or some other Criminal or Traffic violation and would like to speak with a Virginia DUI / DWI Criminal & Traffic Defense Lawyer, call The Wilson Law Firm at 703-659-9740 and we’ll be happy to discuss your situation with you in more detail.

  • But I need to be able to drive to keep my job, my house and provide for my family. Can the court at least allow me to drive for work?

    Maybe - it depends on whether it is your first DUI / DWI offense, second DUI / DWI offense or third (or more) DUI / DWI offense.  

    • 1st offenses: If this is your first conviction for a DUI / DWI, Virginia courts have the authority to grant restricted driving privileges immediately. However, just because the court has the authority to do so, doesn't mean the court will agree to do so. In many cases where the court could grant restricted driving privileges, the court will refuse to so until some time has passed and/or until the court has a report from a substance abuse education and treatment program which discusses the person's level of abuse and dependence on alcohol, likelihood to reoffend, etc.  
    • 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. offenses: If this is your second, third, fourth, etc. conviction for DUI / DWI within 10 years, Virginia courts do not have the authority to grant restricted driving privileges until some time has passed. The length of time that you must wait depends on how many times you've been down this road, and it can be as short as 4 months or as long as 3 years, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.  
    It is important to note that unless and until you are granted restricted driving privileges, you are not allowed to drive at any time, for any reason, and if you are caught driving during this time you will likely be arrested and taken to jail.

    If you and your lawyer are successful in persuading the court to grant you restricted driving privileges after being convicted of a DUI / DWI, Virginia law enables courts to allow driving for a few limited purposes, such as:
    • to get yourself to work
    • to drive during work if your job requires you to do so
    • to get yourself and your children to school
    • to get yourself, your children, your parents and household members to doctors
    • to get your children to day care
    • to get to court ordered visitation with your children
    • to get to alcohol education and treatment programs
    • to appointments with a probation officer
    • to programs required as a condition of probation  
    Although Virginia law does not require it, most courts in Virginia place arbitrary limitations on the number of hours per day and the number of days per week you will be permitted to drive - and will not allow you to drive around the clock, seven days a week, even for the purposes allowed.  So, if you are convicted of a DUI / DWI in Virginia, and you are successful in getting the court to grant you a restricted license, you will only be allowed to drive for a few limited purposes, and only during certain hours. 

  • If my Virginia license is suspended, can I just go to another state and get a license?

    Generally speaking, states communicate with one another and honor suspensions imposed by sister states.  Therefore, in most cases you will not be able to go to another state and get an unrestricted license if you have been suspended in Virginia as a result of a conviction for a DUI / DWI offense.  Even if you are able to obtain a license from another state, as long as your privilege to drive in Virginia remains suspended you will not be allowed to drive in Virginia.

  • What if I am able to go get an international driver's license, even though I am suspended in Virginia? Will that allow me to drive in Virginia?

    No.  If you have been convicted of a DUI / DWI offense in Virginia and have had your privilege to drive in Virginia suspended, you are prohibited from driving in Virginia at any time and for any reason unless the court has granted you a restricted license or privilege to do so.

  • I've been told I have to appear in court for an arraignment. What should I expect at the arraignment?

    Ther term arraignment is a general term which means different things in different states, and even means different things in different courts within a given state.  In Virginia, it is common to use the term "arraignment" to refer to the first appearance before the Court.  If you are held in jail after being arrested, the arraignment usually takes place the following morning, or the next day the court is open.  If you are released from custody (either after posting a bond or on your own recognizance) the arraignment is typically scheduled for a few days later. 

    Substantively, the arraignment is a brief administrative hearing at which the Court will typically do the following: 

    • inform you of the charge against you and make sure you understand it
    • inform you of your right to be represented by an attorney
    • inquire whether you plan to hire a lawyer, ask the court to appoint a lawyer or represent yourself
    • inform you of your next court date
    • The knowledgeable, experienced and successful Virgnia Criminal Defense Lawyers of The Wilson Law Firm can discuss the Virginia arraignment process and other matters involving criminal defense with you in more detail. 

  • Can a lawyer handle this for me in Virginia or will I actually be required to appear in court for the arraignment?

    It depends.  Many Virginia courts do not require the accused to appear for the arraignment, as long as an attorney has been hired and the lawyer takes the necessary steps to excuse the accused from having to appear.  Some courts require the lawyer to actually appear in court on behalf of the client, while other courts simply require the lawyer to formally inform the court that they will be representing the accused.  In any event, as the accused the best course of action is to assume that you must appear in court for the arraignment unless you hire a lawyer and have been assured by the lawyer that your appearance is not necessary.  

  • Why Police Tell You Not to Burp During A Breath Alcohol Test

    Remember that breath testing for alcohol rests on the premise that there is a known ratio between the amount of alcohol in your blood and the amount of alcohol in your breath - so the machine is attempting to measure the amount of alcohol in the breath coming from your lungs.  If you have alcohol in your stomach, the amount of alcohol in the air in your stomach is significantly higher than the amount of alcohol in your lungs.  Burping and belching can falsely elevate breath test results by contaminating your breath sample with liquids and gases from your stomach.  Simply stated, the breath machine may have measured alcohol from your stomach rather than from your lungs.

  • Is there a difference between the terms DUI and DWI in Virginia?

    No.  The term DUI generally refers to driving under the influence, and the term DWI generally refers to driving while intoxicated.  Although some states draw a distinction between the terms and make one a less serious offense, Virginia does not.  Virginia's DUI / DWI law covers them both and even uses both terms in the statute.  The statute is titled "Driving...While Intoxicated, etc." and the substantive text of the law reads thou shall not "drive....while under the influence...."  In Virginia, there is no difference between the terms DUI and DWI:  they are interchangeable. 

    There is no Difference Between DUI and DWI in Virginia

    Call us at (703) 361-6100 to learn about your options, click here to download our free book The DUI/DWI Arrest Survival Guide! or start a chat right now 

  • Can you explain Virginia's DUI / DWI law?

    Of course I can, but it would be a very lengthy and complex discussion.  In a nutshell, Virginia DUI / DWI law can be separated into two categories:  (1) cases involving impairment of the driver and (2) cases which have nothing to do with impairment of the driver. 

    Virginia DUI / DWI cases involving impairment of the driver:  These cases are sometimes referred to as "common law" DUI cases.  Virginia DUI law makes it illegal to: 

    • Drive while under the influence of alcohol.  
    • Drive while under the influence of drugs to a degree that it impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.  
    NOTE:  Successful prosecution of these cases does not require any proof of the amount of alcohol or drugs in the driver's body.  This is the law under which DUI / DWI offenses are prosecuted when there is no breath or blood test to rely upon. 

    Virginia DUI / DWI cases which have nothing to do with impairment of the driver:    These cases are sometimes referred to as "per se" cases because the proof of the violation is a measurement.  Virginia DUI law makes it illegal to:  
    • Drive with a prohibited amount of alcohol in your system. 
    • Drive with a prohibited amount of specific drugs in your system. 
    NOTE:  Successful prosecution of these cases does not require any proof that the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.  The violation is simply driving with the prohibited amount of alcohol or drugs in your body.

  • I blew less than 0.08 on the Preliminary Breath Test, so why was I arrested for a Virginia DUI / DWI?

    The officer must have thought there was enough other evidence to suggest you were impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.  Remember, in Virginia it is illegal to drive if you are impaired, even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than 0.08.  

  • I'm scared to death. If things don't go well and I end up being found guilty of a DUI / DWI in Virginia, am I going to go to jail?

    Maybe.  If you are eventually convicted of a DUI / DWI in Virginia, you may or may not be sentenced to serve time in a local jail or a state prison - it just depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your particular case.  Some DUI / DWI offenses in Virginia have mandatory jail/prison sentences, while others do not.  In addition, many DUI / DWI cases involve aggravated facts and circumstances that are so bad that you could end up being incarcerated by a judge or jury - even though Virginia DUI / DWI law doesn't require it.

    Virginia DUI / DWI offenses involving specific facts and circumstances have mandatory minimum jail/prison sentences.  If you are convicted of a DUI / DWI with the following aggravating factors, your jail sentence can be no shorter than listed below, but it can be longer - all the way up to the maximum punishments allowed.

    • Breath or blood test results of 0.15 or more.....................5 days
    • Transporting a passenger 17 years of age or younger.......... 5 days
    • 2nd offense within 5 to 10 years.................................10 days
    • 2nd offense within 5 years.........................................20 days
    • 3rd offense within 5 to 10 years...................................90 days
    • 3rd offense within 5 years......................................... 6 months
    • 4th, etc.offense within 10 years.....................................1 year

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