Reckless Driving in Virginia: The Ultimate Guide: [Updated 2020]
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 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 (20) miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty-five (85) 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.
How serious is reckless driving in Virginia? What is the law for reckless driving in VA?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, especially on the major Interstates, the court system takes Reckless Driving very seriously. If convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia your could face the following according to the Virginia State Code 46.2-862
(1) you may receive up to 1 year in jail
(2) you may receive up to 6 months suspension of your driver’s license / privileges
(3) you may receive a total of 6 points on a Virginia driver’s license
(4) you may receive up to a $2,500.00 fine.
Is 85 mph reckless driving in Virginia?
In Virginia any speed over 85 Miles Per Hour in considered Reckless Driving. Any speed at or above 20 MPH over the posted speed limit is also considered Reckless Driving. With some of the speed limits on the major interstate highways like I-95, I-85, I 64, I- 81 the posted speed limits can be 70 MPH, so just 16 MPH on these highways can result in a serious Reckless Driving Violation. So in a 55 or 65 MPH zone, yes 85 MPH is reckless driving. But in a 70 MPH zone, you have to be going at or above 86 MPH for it to be considered reckless driving.
What happens if you speed over 100 mph?
If caught Speeding in excess of 100 MPH, the Judge will likely impose some amount of a jail sentence following a conviction for Reckless Driving and that sentence conceivably can be up to 1 year of incarceration. One may also face suspension of driving privileges, fines up to $2500, and/or points on the Drivers License.
In many jurisdictions, jail time is considered in most Reckless Driving Cases where speeds exceed 90 MPH. Some wait until 95 MPH to consider jail. And some wait until 100 MPH. In some courts, one may face one day in jail for every MPH over 90, or 95, or 100 MPH – depending on the jurisdiction. The state code allows the judge to impose jail time for any speeds above 85 MPH although its rare for this to happen under 90 MPH (unless the speed limit zone is 55 MPH or lower). It is vital to contact a reckless driving lawyer who is familiar with the jurisdiction in which the violation occurred.
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 if you hire an attorney, you usually 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? How likely is jail time for reckless driving?
Can I Go to Jail for Reckless Driving? YES
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 potential 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 such as alleged speed, prior driving history, whether there were children in the car, and any other aggravating factors that may exist. Spending time in jail can lead to loss of your job, which means you will not be a position to provide for your loved ones or dependents. 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 Class 1 Misdemeanor. It is similar to driving under the influence, among other serious charges. These violations are considered 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 misdemeanors in Virginia. That said, some courts do allow defendants to pre-pay reckless driving tickets, but beware – if you do this, you are pleading guilty to a criminal offense, your license often becomes suspended in Virginia and sometimes in your home state as well if you’re an out-of-state driver. Here at The Weiland Firm, PLC we regularly get phone calls from people who received reckless driving tickets months or even years ago, simply paid them, and only now do they realize they have a criminal offense on their record. At that point it’s too late to do anything about it. Don’t let this happen to you!
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 than simple tickets. 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 some will be harsh. 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 receive a ticket or summons, 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. 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 to appear on the offender’s behalf. You may avoid one or all of your hearings. At certain speeds, however, you may be required to attend the court hearings. Hiring a local driving attorney will advise you regarding your specific case – likely saving you time as well as travel expenses.
Can I lose my license if I’m convicted of reckless driving?
Can I lose my License if I am Convicted of Reckless Driving?
If convicted of Reckless Driving your License could be Suspend Up to 6 Months.
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 up 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 safe driver 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 a suspension of three to six months is not uncommon. 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 or at least petition for a restricted license. 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 demerit points. When you are issued a license in Virginia, you start with 0 points. You then earn a positive 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 or twenty 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 -6 demerit points. Those points will remain on your record for 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 20 mph beyond the posted limit. If convicted, you will be assessed -6 points, losing your clean driving record which you have maintained for so long in the blink of an eye. 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, or even a non-moving violation (no points at all), or even a dismissal. Speak to a Virginia reckless driving lawyer to understand how the DMV demerit system works.
How long does a reckless driving stay on your record?
If convicted of Reckless Driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the charge will remain on your DMV driving record for 11 Years.
A (Felony or Misdemeanor Conviction) Virginia Reckless Driving Will Stay on your Virginia DMV record for:
- Reckless driving – speeding in excess of 85 mph (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – racing (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – passing a school bus (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – passing on the crest of a hill (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – passing at a railroad crossing (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – passing two vehicles abreast (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – driving two vehicles abreast (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – driving too fast for conditions (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – failing to give a proper signal (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – faulty brakes/improper control (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – on parking lots, etc. (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – with an obstructed view (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
- Reckless driving – generally (will stay on your DMV Records for 11 years)
Source: Virginia DMV
How many points will suspend your license in Virginia?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia in any 12 month period of time If you accumulate 18 demerit points or within 24 months you accumulate 24 points DMV will suspend your driving privileges for 90 days. Additionally, you must complete a driver improvement clinic before your privilege will be restored.
What Are Other common ways someone may be charged with Reckless Driving In Virginia
a. 46.2-854 Passing on a grade or on a curve
b. 46.2-855 Driving with View obstructed/control impaired
c. 46.2-856 Passing two vehicles abreast
d. 46.2-857 Driving two abreast in a single lane
e. 46.2-858 Passing at a railroad grade crossing
f. 46.2-859 Passing a stopped school bus
g. 46.2-860 Failing to give proper signals
h. 46.2-861 Driving too fast for conditions
i. 46.2-863 Failure to yield
j. 46.2-864 Recklessness on parking lots, etc
k. 46.2-865 Racing
l. 46.2-865.1 Injuring or causing death of another while racing; penalties
m. 46.2-866 Racing; aiders or abettors
n. 46.2-867 Racing; seizure of motor vehicle
o. 46.2-868.1 Aggressive Driving (not Reckless Driving but still a Misdemeanor offense)
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, a restricted license is a license that allows you to drive under certain limitations. It usually issued by the sentencing court and 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 whether you can get one or not. You will have to petition the court during your conviction or plea to be granted a restricted driving license. You will likely benefit from the services of a traffic attorney, who will help you to draft and argue the petition. Some judges in Virginia will only permit a restricted license after thirty days from your conviction. Some just won’t do it for speed-related offenses. 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 in advance. An experienced reckless driving lawyer can evaluate the facts in your case, and then determine how to best 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 if at all possible – and in the case of Reckless Driving it usually is! It will always show up, whenever people conduct background checks on you. Whether you are applying for a loan, seeking a job or applying to a college or university, your past conviction 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 much better chances of having the case reduced or dismissed.
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 you look at it though, a reckless driving conviction translates to a higher risk for the company and they pass on that risk to you. 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 including a $500 fee to the Commonwealth of Virginia. In short, the best option is to pay the required amount to your insurance provider and be protected in case of an accident. These rates are generally much lower if you avoid a Reckless Driving conviction, or a conviction for another serious traffic offense such as DUI. If you’re facing Reckless Driving charges, 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 crime, not just a traffic offense, which means you will have to appear in court at a certain date. You cannot (and should not) mail the ticket as you could do for other minor traffic offenses. If you don’t have a traffic defense lawyer, then you will likely have to appear in court to answer the charges. Failure to appear in court doesn’t mean you will not be charged. You may still be tried in your absence, and you will still end up with a criminal record. In some instances, the judge may issue a capias or a show cause for your Failure To Appear (FTA) in court. This is another criminal offense for which you do not want to be found guilty.
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 – having your driving privileges “suspended.” Then if you are caught driving with a suspended license, even as an out-of-state driver, you will be facing additional and serious criminal charges that come with severe penalties. The good news is that a local traffic defense lawyer can almost always represent you in court, freeing up your time to attend to other commitments, such as family and work (or golf).