Reckless Driving Virginia
If you have been charged with reckless driving Virginia, criminal defense and traffic attorney Jay P. Mykytiuk can help. Read on to learn about the local laws as well as what your options are if you have been charged with reckless driving.
Reckless Driving Virginia
Virginia drivers who have never had any previous problems with the law are often surprised to find themselves in court on a reckless driving charge. That’s because Virginia has some of the harshest reckless driving laws in the country.
In the Commonwealth, a driver can be charged with reckless driving if he or she drives at a speed over 80 miles per hour or exceeds the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour or more. In addition, a Virginia driver can be charged with reckless driving if he or she is driving in a way that police determine may endanger the life, limb, or property of any person, regardless of speed.
Charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Because of the seriousness of a reckless driving charge in Virginia, drivers charged with reckless driving should speak with a lawyer who has experience defending Virginia traffic offenses. A lawyer can advise you of any defenses you may have to the charge and help you avoid having a reckless driving conviction on your record. To learn more about reckless driving Virginia laws, read on or contact criminal defense attorney Jay P. Mykytiuk at 202-318-3761 today.
What is Considered Reckless Driving in Virginia?
There are a number of infractions that Virginia considers to be reckless driving; some infractions are more obvious than others. More common VA reckless driving charges include speeding in excess of 80 mph, speeding 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, street racing, and driving too fast for the current conditions.
That last violation seems like it would be a little arbitrary, and it is. Under Virginia Code § 46.2-852, reckless driving is defined as “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.”
The wording of this statute allows for a catch-all: if your driving does not fit into a specified category, a police officer can still arrest you or give you a ticket for reckless driving if they think it was warranted. In many situations, whether you are arrested or given a ticket for reckless driving depends on the specific officer who pulled you over.
For a more complete list of what might be considered Virginia reckless driving, visit the Virginia DMV’s website or reach out to an attorney.
Virginia Reckless Driving Tickets
Most people speed — it’s just something that happens in life. While frowned upon, speeding in Virginia is simply a traffic infraction that typically results in nothing worse than a moving violation ticket. However, at a certain point, speeding becomes less of an accident and can turn into reckless driving. In Virginia, a reckless driving ticket is considered a criminal offense, and the potential punishment could be a lot worse than a simple speeding ticket.
If you just received a reckless driving ticket, DO NOT just show up to court and plead guilty hoping to just pay a fine. The punishments for reckless driving in VA could be much more severe. Even if you were just fined, the other subsequent punishments could stay with you on your criminal record for years, not to mention other potential impacts on your life, like increased insurance rates. It is within your best interest to hire an attorney who knows how to fight for your rights in Virginia courts. An experienced attorney working on your behalf could have your charges reduced or dismissed outright.
Virginia Reckless Driving Penalties
Reckless driving is not simply a traffic infraction — under the Code of Virginia § 46.2-868, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This does not mean that Virginia reckless driving is not a serious charge, however. This means that if you are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia, you will have a criminal record, and you may face hefty fines and jail time.
A Class 1 misdemeanor is the most severe misdemeanor charge in Virginia, and a conviction can have lasting impacts on your future. This is why it is crucial that you consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you are facing reckless driving charges in Virginia.
Virginia Reckless Driving Fines
If you are found guilty of reckless driving in Virginia, you may face up to 12 months of jail time and a fine of up to $2,500.
Virginia Reckless Driving Fine
Depending on the circumstances of your case, these penalties may not be the end of your worries. If someone is killed as a result of your reckless driving, you could be charged with a Class 6 felony; a conviction could result in imprisonment for up to 20 years, in addition to your license being suspended for up to 3 years. If your license was suspended or revoked when you were caught driving recklessly, you could be charged with a Class 6 felony as well.
Additionally, because reckless driving is a criminal charge and will appear on your criminal record, a conviction could impact your ability to get certain jobs or rent in certain places. Reaching out to a trusted criminal defense attorney can help mitigate these potential impacts.
VA Reckless Driving Charges and Your Driver’s License
In addition to criminal penalties, a Virginia reckless driving conviction may result in punishments by the DMV. A conviction will result in 6 demerit points being placed on your license. Depending on where you stand regarding demerit points on your license, a Virginia reckless driving conviction could result in your license being suspended for 6 months or more. Your conviction will stay on your driving record for 11 years.
If you are facing a license suspension, however, you may have the option of receiving a restricted license. Also known as a work license or a hardship license, this type of driver’s license permits you to drive under specific restrictions. It is generally provided by the DMV in Virginia. With a restricted license, you can drive to certain essential locations such as school, work, and even church, depending on the discretion of the judge managing your case. To obtain a restricted license, you will need to petition the court with the help of your attorney. A skilled reckless driving VA attorney can examine the facts in your case, determine whether to pursue a limited driving license, and guide you through the process.
Those who hold a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, may face additional, and harsher, penalties. There are federal repercussions that result from “serious driving violations” convictions, reckless driving included, as well as punishments from the State of Virginia. In this case, the punishments are the same. If you are convicted of a serious driving violation twice in a three-year span, your CDL could be suspended for 60 days. If you are convicted of a third serious driving violation in that three-year span, your CDL could be suspended for 120 days.
Losing your CDL could severely impact your job and your life. If you hold a CDL and face a serious moving violation charge, like reckless driving in Virginia, please contact an attorney immediately.
Reckless Driving Virginia First Offense
Although reckless driving charges are always taken seriously in Virginia, first-time reckless driving offenders in Virginia often get special consideration due to their lack of previous offenses. However, it’s important to keep in mind that previous speeding tickets and driving infractions, even those not considered criminal offenses, may be taken into account by prosecutors to raise your charges.
Some additional factors that could impact the outcome of your first offense reckless driving case include:
- Where the offense occurred
- How fast you were going
- The circumstances behind your reckless driving violation
A second or third reckless driving charge may also lead to harder penalties, so it’s always best to prevent having that first one on your record. Consulting a lawyer about your specific case elements can help you better determine what to expect when facing reckless driving charges and to lower your charges to the fullest extent possible.
Virginia Reckless Driving Charges as an Out-Of-State Driver
A reckless driving violation can happen anywhere, but drivers are most at risk of receiving a reckless driving ticket on major highways. I-95, I-81, I-66, Dulles Airport Toll Road, and Dulles Greenway each tend to produce a larger number of reckless driving charges by speed. This is a significant reason why out-of-state drivers are more prone to reckless driving charges in Virginia.
If you face Virginia reckless driving charges as a resident of another state, the process for fighting your charges will be different than that of a Virginia resident. Because reckless driving is a criminal misdemeanor, not a traffic violation, an appearance in court is required; this is not a charge that can just be dealt with through the mail. For many people, traveling back to a Virginia courthouse may be incredibly difficult for whatever reason. On your behalf, a Virginia reckless driving attorney could petition to appear for you in court, saving you time and money on traveling expenses.
The criminal penalties do not change based on where you are from. However, the Virginia DMV cannot suspend your out-of-state license, nor can they put any demerit points on it. What the DMV will do is report your conviction to your home state DMV. Your home state DMV will then apply any penalties to your driving record that would have resulted had your reckless driving conviction occurred in your state.
Contact a Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer Today
An experienced traffic lawyer can often get a Virginia reckless driving charge reduced to a traffic infraction that, while appearing on your driving record, does not constitute a criminal conviction.
With the help of a skilled attorney, a reckless driving charge could be reduced to “improper driving”, a speeding or other moving violation, or in some cases, a simple equipment violation. Besides not showing up on your criminal record, these violations come with less severe penalties. Negotiating a favorable deal with the prosecutor is usually the first line of defense in reckless driving cases. Failing that, trying the case, or convincing the judge to reduce the charge is a defendant’s last hope. Having an experienced attorney who knows how to effectively lobby on your behalf could be the difference between a criminal conviction and a finable traffic infraction.
Factors that could convince a prosecutor or judge to reduce a charge include a clean driving record or a driver education course. Again, discussing these options with an experienced attorney is your best protection.
Like any criminal charge, a reckless driving charge should be taken more seriously than a run-of-the-mill speeding ticket. To best protect yourself from serious punishment, having an experienced attorney on your side is a must. Jay Mykytiuk of Scrofano Law has over a decade of experience defending clients in Virginia courts and has successfully handled hundreds of reckless driving charges. Jay has built a relationship with the prosecutors and judges of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax counties, and will tailor the best defense for you in any given situation. If you were charged with reckless driving, do not hesitate to contact Attorney Mykytiuk immediately.