FAQ Frequently Asked Questions about Reckless Driving In Virginia
When it comes to reckless driving, most people are not sure about the severity of the charges, or even what to do next. Some proceed to trial without hiring a lawyer and then plead guilty to the charges, hoping for a lenient punishment. Others assume it is a simple matter, which can be resolved by mailing a fine. If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t panic. Here is a brief overview of all the information related to reckless driving, including the laws, the charges, the possible consequences, as well as any other question you might have. If you have any other questions, then you can contact us today, for a free initial consultation, with our seasoned reckless driving lawyers.
What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is a blanket term that covers various violations in Virginia. In fact, 14 traffic violations fall under reckless driving, which means you can be charged with any of them. For example, you can be charged for failing to signal appropriately, driving a faulty vehicle, passing a stopped school bus, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, driving with an obstructed view, or even driving too fast for conditions, among others.
What is Reckless Driving?
Under Commonwealth of Virginia State Law Code 46.2-862 Exceeding speed limit is a Reckless Driving Offense:
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
Reckless driving by speeding remains one of the most common violations in Virginia. In a nutshell, any form of driving that endangers life, limb or property, is considered as reckless driving in Virginia. Unlike other traffic citations, reckless driving is considered a criminal offense in Virginia, and you might end up with heavy fines, loss of your driving privileges or even spending time in jail if convicted. The determination as to whether you should be charged with reckless driving ultimately rests with the police officer stopping you.
Do I have to go to court if I got a reckless driving ticket?
Since reckless driving is a criminal offense, you don’t have an option. You will be required to appear in court on a certain date, which is usually indicated on your ticket. The good news is that you don’t have to appear in person. If your schedule is tight, you cannot afford to be spending time in court, while neglecting your work or other daily commitments. Also, if you are an out-of-state driver, then attending court sessions can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s why it is always advisable to hire a local reckless driving lawyer to help in navigating this intimidating and complicated court process.
Can I go to jail for reckless driving?
Can I Go to Jail for Reckless Driving?
In Virginia, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A person convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor may be sent to jail for not more than twelve months and/or fined not more than $2,500.
Spending time in jail is a possibility if you are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia. As highlighted earlier, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, which comes with a jail time of up to 12 months, depending on the severity of the charge. You should also note that reckless driving can also escalate to a felony, especially if your driving behavior resulted in the death of a person. When you are in that situation, there is a high chance of spending multiple years in jail. These are usually maximum sentences. The amount you will spend in jail rests upon many factors in your case. Spending time in jail can lead to loss of job, which means you will not be a position to provide for your loved or dependants if any. You would not want to find yourself in that situation. If you are facing a reckless driving charge, the best means of avoiding jail time is by hiring a competent traffic lawyer to represent you.
Can I pre-pay my reckless driving ticket?
In Virginia, reckless driving is a considered as a class 1 misdemeanor offense. It is similar to driving under the influence, among other serious charges. These violations are considered as criminal offenses. It is not like other traffic citations. Therefore, since it is a criminal offense, you will have to appear in court. There is no provision for pre-payment of traffic offenses in Virginia.
You can represent yourself in court to answer reckless driving charges. However, going to court without consulting a lawyer first is not advised. Reckless driving charges are different. Furthermore, judges and courts will treat you differently, based on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Some judges might be lenient, thus giving you a reduced charge, but most will not. Some judges might also give you a good deal, especially if your driving record is clean. But why should you bet on the feelings or mood of a judge? Taking that approach is risky. Furthermore, reckless driving laws in Virginia are complex. If you are found guilty, you face serious penalties, which can jeopardize your future opportunities.
Once you are convicted, it is advisable to consult a reckless driving lawyer as soon as possible. Experienced Virginia reckless driving attorneys will evaluate your case, prepare a defense or even negotiate with a prosecutor. Also, in some jurisdictions such as Fairfax County, you cannot negotiate with the judge or the authorities, without legal representation. Hiring a reckless driving attorney also comes with great benefits, especially if you are an out-of-state driver. Most courts will allow legal representation, even if the offender is not present in court. You will only be required to attend the court during the judgment. Hiring a local driving attorney will save you time, as well as travel expenses.
Can I lose my license if I’m convicted of reckless driving?
Can I loose my License if I am Convicted of Reckless Driving?
If convicted of Reckless Driving your License could be Suspend.
A conviction of reckless driving in Virginia also carries the possibility of a suspended driver’s license. When the offense is a misdemeanor, then the suspension can range from 10 days to six months. However, if your reckless driving offense escalates to a felony, then you are facing a suspension of up to three years.
A suspension will also depend on the number of points that you currently have, among other factors. In some part of Virginia, if you are charged with reckless driving by speeding at 30 mph over the posted speed limit, then you are facing a suspension of up to six months. Working with a reliable traffic defense lawyer can help to avoid a suspension. A reckless driving lawyer may also be able to convince the court to impose a smaller suspension. It is almost impossible to convince the judges on your own to impose a no suspension or smaller suspension on your own.
How many points will reckless driving add to my driver’s license?
In Virginia, every traffic ticket comes with a certain number of points. When you are issued a license in Virginia, you start with 0 points. You then earn a point for every year passed with a clean driving record. The maximum number of points you can earn is five. Therefore, if you have had a clean driving record for five years, then you will have a +5. You will also have the same number of points if you have had a clean driving record for ten years.
So, what happens when you are convicted of a traffic violation? Whenever you violate traffic offenses, the DMV will deduct your score, depending on the severity of the offense. In Virginia, a reckless driving conviction comes with a -6. Those points will remain on your record for at least 11 years. You should also note that the judge does not have the power to order a few points. They apply automatically, once you are convicted of reckless driving.
Imagine maintaining a clean driving record for ten years. Then one day you are running late, and you are caught speeding at 35 mph beyond the posted limit. If convicted, you will lose your clean driving record, which you have maintained for eleven years, in the blink of an eye. Therefore, every driver should take reckless driving charges seriously. However, a skillful traffic defense lawyer may be able to negotiate with the court for a less charge, which means fewer points against your driving record. Speak to a Virginia reckless driving lawyer to understand how the DMV demerit system works.
If my license is suspended for reckless driving, can I get a restricted license to drive to work?
Also known as a work license or hardship license, is a license that allows you to drive under certain limitations. It usually issued by the DMV in Virginia. With a restricted driving license, you can drive to various places such as school, work or even church. However, it usually depends on the discretion of the judge handling your case. You will have to petition the court during your conviction or plea to be granted a restricted driving license. You will need the services of a traffic attorney, who will help you to draft the motion of the petition. Some judges in Virginia will only permit a restricted license after thirty days from your conviction. If you are planning to plead guilty to reckless driving charges so that you can obtain a restricted license, then you need to have adequate information about it. An experienced reckless driving lawyer can evaluate the facts in your case, and then determine whether to pursue a restricted driving license.
Will a reckless driving conviction affect security clearances?
As you probably know by now, a reckless driving conviction comes with a permanent criminal record. However, as to whether it can affect your security clearances; that is at the discretion of the agency or officer granting the clearance. Some institutions or agencies might ignore it. Others might feel your character raises some questions, thus denying you clearance. A permanent criminal record is not something you would want. It will always show up, whenever people conduct background checks on you. Whether you are applying for a loan, seeking a job or applying for college or university, it might deny you some great opportunities. The best way of avoiding such a situation is by having a Virginia reckless driving attorney to represent you during the trial. You will have better chances of having the case reduced or dismissed, instead of facing trial alone.
How will a reckless driving conviction affect my car insurance?
When it comes to reckless driving convictions, every insurance company applies its internal policies. However, a reckless driving conviction translates to a higher risk. Therefore, you should expect to pay more for your insurance premiums. Every driver on the road is expected to have a certain threshold of insurance coverage.
If you are caught driving without an insurance cover, then you might be in for some harsh penalties. In short, there is no other option but to pay the required amount to your insurance provider. Your best way out of this situation is to hire a competent reckless driving lawyer in Virginia, to represent you. An experienced traffic defense attorney increases your chances of having the case dismissed or reduced, depending on the circumstances.
I Live out-of-state. What do I do?
If you are an out-of-state driver, then you will be facing the same charges and penalties as in-state offenders. Reckless driving in Virginia is a traffic offense, which means you will have to appear in court at a certain date. You cannot mail the ticket as other minor traffic offenses. If you don’t have a traffic defense lawyer, then you will have to appear in court to answer the charges. Failure to appear in court doesn’t mean you will not be charged. You will still be charged in your absence, and you will still end up with a criminal record.
Failure to appear in court increases chances of a conviction. If you don’t hire a lawyer, then you will have to represent yourself in court during the entire process of the trial. This means you will have to be traveling back to Virginia, every time there is a court date. Such travels are expensive and time-consuming. Also, if you are convicted of reckless driving, then you might lose privileges of driving in Virginia. Therefore, if you are caught driving with a suspended driving license, you will be facing additional criminal charges, as well as severe penalties. The good news is that a local traffic defense lawyer can represent you in court. This will free you up, leaving you with enough time to attend to other commitments, such as family and work.