You may not realize that you have been arrested if you are charged with reckless driving in Virginia. That’s because the police do not take you to the police station and book you. Instead, they would issue you a summons to appear at court that looks like a traffic ticket, which they would ask you to sign.
However, you are really being charged with a misdemeanor offense which carries heavy penalties if you are convicted. Your first step should be to retain a knowledgeable reckless driving lawyer who can mount an aggressive defense strategy to fight the charges.
When Could You Be Charged With Reckless Driving?
There are approximately 16 offenses that constitute reckless driving. The most common offenses involve speeding. You could be charged with reckless driving under Virginia Code § 46.2-862 for the following:
- Driving 20 miles per hour or higher over the posted speed limit
- Driving in excess of 85 miles per hour no matter what the posted speed limit is
You could also be charged with reckless driving for many other offenses that would be considered traffic violations in other states. You could be charged with this crime if you are driving on a roadway or highway and do any of the following:
- Drive your motor vehicle recklessly or in a way, or at a speed that endangers a person or property
- Drive too fast for road or weather conditions—even if you are driving at or below the posted speed limit
- Drive your vehicle when it is not under your control due to faulty brakes
- Pass an emergency vehicle when it has its lights or siren on
- Pass a school bus when it is stopped or attempting to stop to pick up or let off students or handicapped individuals
- Pass two vehicles that are abreast unless there are three or more lanes of traffic going in the same direction
- Drive abreast another vehicle in a single lane
- Pass on the crest of a curve or grade
- Pass another vehicle at a railroad crossing unless there are two or more lanes in each direction
- Drive recklessly in a parking lot
- Fail to yield the right of way
- Fail to use your turn signals properly
- Overload your vehicle—including with passengers—in a way that obstructs your visibility or control of the vehicle
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Virginia
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor offense in Virginia. The punishments could be harsh if you are convicted of this crime. While your sentence would depend on several factors, such as your prior criminal record, driving history, how fast you were driving, and whether you caused an accident, you could be sentenced to the following punishments:
- Up to 12 months in jail
- Fine not to exceed $2,500
- Driver’s license suspension for six months
- Six points on your driving record
Long-Term Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction
Besides the sentence that the judge could impose, you face other long-term consequences if you are convicted of reckless driving. Here are some of the ways a conviction could impact your life:
- Permanent criminal record. You will have a permanent criminal record if you are convicted of this crime. This could affect your ability to obtain employment, housing, an education, and more.
- Auto insurance. Your vehicle insurance costs could increase significantly for years after you successfully complete your sentence.
- Security clearance. If you need a security clearance for your job, it could be in jeopardy—especially if this is not your first conviction for reckless driving or you have been convicted of other offenses.
- Job. If you must drive for your job, you may be terminated if your driver’s license is suspended and you can no longer drive.
- Points on your driving record. The six demerit points you would be assessed could remain on your driving record for up to 11 years. This could increase the likelihood that your driver’s license would be suspended if you accumulate too many demerit points in a relatively short period of time.
Contact Us for the Legal Help You Need
Have you or a loved one been charged with reckless driving in Virginia? Our experienced reckless driving attorneys can raise effective defenses that can help you fight the s charges you face. This could lead to the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense with lesser consequences. To learn how our committed legal team can assist you, call our Manassas office to schedule your free consultation today.