Reckless Driving Virginia
Reckless Driving Virginia: The Basics
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 one 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.
For consultation on Reckless Driving Virginia charges, call (202) 630-1522 today!
What is often more surprising to Virginia drivers, is that reckless driving is not simply a traffic infraction, but is a Class 1 misdemeanor criminal charge. That means that if you are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia, you will have a criminal record. Moreover, the maximum penalty one can receive in Virginia if convicted of reckless driving is up to 12 months in jail or a fine of up to $2500, or both. In addition, if convicted of reckless driving, a judge may suspend your driver’s license for up to six months. Finally, a reckless driving conviction will cause the Department of Motor Vehicles to impose a six-point penalty on your license, which will likely lead to an increased insurance premium and could lead to an automatic license suspension.
Looking for a Virginia Reckless Driving Defense Attorney? Contact Jay P. Mykytiuk Trial Attorney now!
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 to avoid having a reckless driving conviction on your record.
Work with a Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer
Most people speed, it’s just something that happens in life. While frowned upon, speeding in Virginia is just 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, reckless driving is a criminal offense, and the potential punishment could be a lot worse than a simple speeding ticket.
If you just received a ticket for reckless driving, DO NOT just show up to court and plead guilty hoping to just pay a fine. The punishments for reckless driving 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.
For consultation on a reckless driving offense, call (202) 630-1522 today!
What can be considered reckless driving?
There are a number of infractions that Virginia considers to be reckless driving; some infractions are more obvious than others. More common reckless driving charges include speeding in excess of 80 mph, speeding 20 mph 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 reckless driving, visit the Virginia DMV’s website.
Is reckless driving a felony in Virginia? What are the punishments for reckless driving?
No. In Virginia, reckless driving alone is a misdemeanor. This does not mean reckless driving is not a serious charge, however. Under the Code of Virginia § 46.2-868, reckless driving is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor which is the most serious misdemeanor charge possible. If found guilty of reckless driving, a person can be imprisoned for up to 12 months and could face a fine of up to $2,500.
There are some exceptions to this, however. 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 Class 6 felony as well.
In addition to criminal penalties, a reckless driving conviction will also result in punishments by the DMV. A conviction will result in 6 points being placed on your license. Depending on where you stand point-wise on your license, a 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.
Because reckless driving is a criminal charge and will appear on your criminal record, a conviction could also impact your ability to get certain jobs or rent in certain places.
Looking for a reckless driving Defense Attorney in Virginia? Contact Jay P. Mykytiuk Trial Attorney now!
Can I get my reckless driving charge reduced?
An experienced traffic lawyer can often get a reckless driving charge reduced to a traffic infraction that, while appearing on your driving record, does not constitute a criminal conviction. 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 harsh 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.
What if I am from out-of-state and was charged with reckless driving in Virginia?
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, travelling back to a Virginia courthouse may be incredibly difficult for whatever reason. On your behalf, a Virginia 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 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 license that would have resulted had your reckless driving conviction occurred in your state.
Will a reckless driving charge affect my CDL?
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, please immediately contact an attorney.
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 handles 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.