Reckless driving is a traffic offense that refers to several traffic violations under Virginia State Law, with speeding being the most common violation. Any form of driving that may endanger life, limb, or property counts as committing reckless driving, and is considered a criminal offense according to traffic law. As such, being charged with driving recklessly may lead to getting heavily fined, losing your driving privilege, or spending time in jail.
The following acts constitute reckless driving according to the traffic laws in Virginia:
- Speeding exceeding 80 miles per hour;
- Speeding 20 mph or more over the designated speed limit;
- Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions;
- Driving a vehicle with improperly adjusted or faulty brakes;
- Driving with an obstructed view;
- Passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle, a stopped school bus, or two vehicles at once;
- Passing on the crest of a hill, at a railroad crossing, or at a highway intersection;
- Passing when approaching a curve in the road, or when pedestrians are present;
- Failing to give a proper signal; and
In Virginia, reckless driving is typically prosecuted as a class 1 misdemeanor offense but may be classified as felonies in certain situations. For example, a violator may be charged with a class 6 felony if death occurs due to racing, or if you were recklessly driving on a suspended license or with a revoked license. A conviction will remain on your DMV driving record for 11 years.
Do I have to go to court?
If you were ticketed for reckless driving, you will have to go to criminal court. Your appearance is necessary on the court date listed on your ticket unless other arrangements were made by your attorney. In addition, there is no provision for prepayment of traffic offenses in Virginia.
What are the penalties of reckless driving?
If convicted, the penalty for a reckless driving offender include:
- Getting a criminal record;
- Getting six license points on your driving record;
- Paying a fine of up to $2500;
- Suspending your driving privileges for up to six months; and
- Getting a jail sentence of up to a year.
The driver’s license suspension can range from a few days to six months for misdemeanors or up to three years for a felony. Generally, suspensions depend on the number of points you have, and a reliable traffic defense attorney can help you avoid suspension or convince the court to get a smaller one.
Will I have to serve jail time?
You may have to spend time in jail for up to a year depending on the severity of your charge, as it is a misdemeanor offense. However, if the charge is escalated to a felony, especially if your driving caused death, then there is highly probable that you will be sentenced to several years in prison. If you were charged for being a reckless driver, the best means of avoiding jail time is by hiring a competent traffic lawyer to represent you.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
While the court allows defendants to represent themselves, it is generally not advised to do so. A defendant can plead guilty to the driving violations they are charged with, but a guilty plea may not always be the best course of action. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, judges or courts may treat you differently. A judge may give you a reduced sentence if your record is clean, but there is no guarantee that they will do so. Moreover, you will have to pay heavy fines and face serious penalties if found guilty of these charges.
If you received a ticket for reckless driving, call an experienced Virginia reckless driving attorney right away. They can evaluate your case, prepare a defense for you, and even negotiate with a prosecutor. Attorneys may also be able to arrange plea agreements for a lesser charge or traffic infraction. Furthermore, some cases allow for your VA attorney to appear in court on your behalf, which means you will only be required to go to court during the judgment.
If you have received a reckless driving ticket, contact The Fisher Law Firm, P.C. for an initial consultation with a competent VA reckless driving lawyer.