Navigating Speeding Laws in Virginia
Speeding and other traffic offenses carry a hefty price tag in Virginia. Learn about the different speeding laws, what they entail, and how they affect you.
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What Is Considered Speeding in Virginia?
Although many people think speeding tickets are not a big deal, that doesn’t mean the speeding offense is not serious. Exceeding a posted speeding limit can, in some cases, result in criminal charges.
According to Virginia law, if there are no posted speed limits, the automatic default speed is 25 mph in residential and business areas. On secondary roads bringing with #600 and above, the default speed limit is 55 mph.
Failure to follow the posted speed limit would subject a driver to a speeding ticket. Speeding tickets are punishable by a demerit point system governed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and associated fines. The number of points depends on how fast one was driving.
What Exactly Is Reckless Driving?
To be found guilty of reckless driving, the Commonwealth of Virginia must prove that an individual was driving a vehicle on a highway recklessly or “in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.”
Speeding and Reckless Driving in Virginia
Driving at any speed over the speed limit is a “ticketable” offense in Virginia, but police do not pay much mind to anyone driving below 5 mph over the limit.
Driving less than 19 mph over the speed limit would most likely be considered a traffic infraction as long as the individual is driving slower than 85 mph. However, once the speed transitions to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, the driver can be charged with reckless driving, which is a more serious criminal offense.
A driver would be guilty of reckless driving if they exceeded the applicable maximum speed limit by more than 20 miles per hour or if they drove more than 85 miles per hour regardless of the speed limit on the highways of the Commonwealth of Virginia. That means driving 75 mph in a 55 mph zone can be considered reckless driving.
Also, considering that the highest speed limit on Virginia highways is 70 mph, driving faster than 85 miles per hour would bring a reckless driving charge, even though an individual is exceeding the speed limit by less than 20 mph.
Virginia traffic lawyer can help you fight speeding tickets or reckless driving charges. Contact one to help you avoid accumulating DMV demerit points on your driving record.
Is Speeding a Felony Under the Virginia Speed Law?
It depends on how fast the driver went over the speed limit and the number of prior traffic offenses. Even then, the first offense would most likely not be treated as a felony.
Reckless driving is usually prosecuted as a Class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious class of misdemeanors in Virginia. However, under Virginia law, one can be charged with felony reckless driving in certain situations. For example, if the reckless driving charge results from racing and death occurs, or someone who is not involved is severely injured.
Other traffic offenses that can be charged as felonies include third-offense DUI and a hit-and-run accident in which the victim was seriously injured or killed. Hiring a hit-and-run Virginia lawyer is crucial if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident since penalties include a harsh prison sentence, a substantial fine, and a revocation of your driving privileges.
Virginia Speeding Tickets and Demerit Points
Every traffic infraction in Virginia is associated with a certain number of demerit points. So, if the driver is driving between 1 and 9 mph over the posted speed limit, they would receive three points. However, driving at an unreasonably slow speed below the limit would also result in getting 3 points on your driving record.
Four-points violations include:
- Speeding 10-19 mph above the speed limit
- Reckless driving –
- Failing to stop before entering a highway
According to the Virginia DMV, other reckless driving offenses, like speeding 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit, are six-point traffic violations.
Accumulating too many points over a short period could also result in your driver’s license being suspended. Gaining safe or positive points reduces demerit points. One safe point can be earned for every year of good driving and five points after taking a driver improvement course.
Bear in mind that in case of a conviction, these three-point and four-point violations typically stay on the driving record for 5 years, while reckless driving offenses remain on the record for 11 years. But, if an experienced attorney gets the charges reduced, the conviction may remain on one’s driving record shorter.
Penalties for Speeding in Virginia
Unlike most speeding offenses, reckless driving is a criminal offense that results in jail time. Additionally, a reckless driving conviction can seriously impact the defendant’s career if driving is part of their job duties.
Since reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, it will result in a permanent criminal record if convicted.
The penalties for reckless driving include:
- Spending up to 12 months in jail
- Fines of up to $2500 and court costs
- Driver’s license suspension of up to six months
- Increase in auto insurance rates
Those charged with driving at 90 mph or faster may even receive an additional two days in jail for every mph over 90 that they were driving. Speeding over 100 mph would be even more severely penalized.
New Virginia Speeding Ticket Fines
The Commonwealth of Virginia takes speeding tickets very seriously. For example, a speeding ticket amount increases by $6 per mile over the speed limit. This fee increases to $7 per mile over the limit if the infraction was made in a work or a school zone and even $8 per mile exceeded in residential areas. An additional $200 can also be included.
Driving too slow can also result in a $30 fine. In addition, Virginia courts add $62 for any traffic ticket conviction.
Ticket payments that are not made within 40 days of issuance can result in an arrest warrant being issued by a judge. However, if you pay a ticket, you are admitting guilt and accepting whatever punishment is given.
Do You Need a Speeding Lawyer in Virginia?
Hiring a speeding lawyer can be beneficial for your case. Consulting with an experienced attorney after getting a traffic ticket or being charged with reckless driving means you will have someone on your side who can explain the legal ramifications of that particular traffic offense in the long run. Increased insurance rates and a potentially suspended license due to too many acquired points are just some consequences you could face.
Whether you need a lawyer experienced in dealing with Virginia’s speeding laws or a federal criminal lawyer, Attorney Jay P. Mykitiuk and the Scrofano Law team can help you defend your rights. Jay P. Mykytiuk has been helping clients navigate the complicated world of the Virginia traffic code and speeding infractions for more than 10 years.
Reach out to us at 202-318-3761 today, so we can schedule a confidential case assessment and discover how we can make justice work for you.
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