Virginia Reckless Driving Facts
There are numerous types of reckless driving charges in Virginia. The most common charges are:
- Reckless driving by speed (Reckless Speeding)
- Reckless driving that threatens life
- Reckless driving resulting in the failure to maintain control of a vehicle
The classification and severity of your charge can greatly affect the possible consequence of a conviction. Penalties range from minor fines a $2,500 fine, a year in jail and a six-month driver’s license suspension.
What Are Other common ways someone may be charged with Reckless Driving
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
There are two keys to a successful defense of reckless driving charges and reckless speeding tickets:
- Identifying defenses of the charges
- Have the charges reduced or dismissed based on mitigating evidence
The reckless driving attorneys at Weiland Upton can confidently claim that we have successfully argued for the reduction or dismissal of the majority of the reckless driving cases we handle.
What are the Reckless Driving (Felony or Misdemeanor) and years the demerit points stay on your DMV Record.
( Source- Virginia DMV )
Reckless driving – speeding in excess of 80 mph (11 years)
Reckless driving – speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit (11 years)
Reckless driving – racing (11 years)
Reckless driving – passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle (11 years)
Reckless driving – passing a school bus (11 years)
Reckless driving – passing on the crest of a hill (11 years)
Reckless driving – passing at a railroad crossing (11 years)
Reckless driving – passing two vehicles abreast (11 years)
Reckless driving – driving two vehicles abreast (11 years)
Reckless driving – driving too fast for conditions (11 years)
Reckless driving – failing to give a proper signal (11 years)
Reckless driving – faulty brakes/improper control (11 years)
Reckless driving – on parking lots, etc. (11 years)
Reckless driving – with an obstructed view (11 years)
Reckless driving – generally (11 years)
Speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit (5 years)
Our lawyers handle reckless driving ticket cases in the City of Richmond and numerous local jurisdictions surrounding the City of Richmond. These jurisdictions include Brunswick, Emporia. King George, New Kent County, Spotsylvania County, the City of Hopewell, Sussex County, Caroline County, Amelia County, Henrico, Hanover, Chesterfield County, Prince George County, the City of Colonial Heights, the City of Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Goochland County, Stafford County and Powhatan County.
Weiland Upton: Identifying Defenses, Fighting for Reduced Charges in Reckless Speeding Cases.
Often, there is little distinguishing a reckless driving charge involving speed from a minor speeding ticket. Yet, the difference in penalties can add up to months in jail, months of suspended driving privileges and thousands of dollars in fines.
Our Virginia reckless driving lawyers teach traffic violation law, advise lawyers from other jurisdictions and have advised the Virginia House of Delegates regarding reckless driving law. We can quickly and accurately evaluate your case, provide an honest assessment and deliver experienced, knowledgeable representation. Call us at (804) 355-8037
Find out More – Frequently Asked Questions About Reckless Driving
We handle Reckless Driving Cases in the Following Locations:
- Brunswick County Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Bowling Green Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Caroline County va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Chesterfield County Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Colonial Heights Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Dinwiddie County Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Emporia Va Reckless Driving Lawyer
- Greensville County Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Hanover County Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Henrico County va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Hopewell Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Lawrenceville VA Reckless Driving Lawyers
- King George County Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Mecklenburg County Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- New Kent County Va Reckless Driving Attorneys
- Petersburg Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Prince George County Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Richmond Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Spotsylvania County Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Stafford County Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
- Sussex County Va Reckless Driving Lawyers
More On Reckless Driving In Virginia
Reckless Driving in Virginia
Even with advances made in technology, including enhanced safety systems, the numbers of accidents on the roadways of Virginia do not appear like slowing down anytime soon. Some of the causes of these accidents include failure to yield, following too closely, speeding and driver distraction. Most of these behaviors are categorically listed as reckless driving. In short, reckless driving is the biggest contributor to motor accidents in Virginia. Any form of aggressive driving affects the driver’s ability to react properly especially when an unexpected situation arises. In an attempt to deter such practices and punish the offenders, law enforcement officers normally issue severe penalties to restore sanity on the roads. This is aimed at managing this problem in both the short term and the long run.
Virginia Reckless Driving Statistics, Speed Traps and FAQs
- Va Reckless Driving Statistics
Despite the efforts being undertaken to discourage reckless driving, the numbers of fatalities associated with reckless driving remain a huge concern in Virginia. In fact, various sections of the community have expressed their desperation on the various accidental events on the road. According to the DMV, the number of persons killed because of road accidents in 2015 stands at 753. This was a 7.6% increase from 2014. Also, approximately 65,029 persons sustained injuries in 2015, due to reckless driving. This number reflects a 2.6% increase from the previous year. According to the authorities, the increase in the number of road fatalities can be associated with a higher number of licensed drivers in Virginia. When you consider the averages, you will realize that the authorities have every right to instill strict penalties on reckless driving offenders. For example, a crash is reported in Virginia every 5 minutes. Also, traffic crashes lead to an average of 2 fatalities per day. Apart from that, traffic crashes contributed to 178 injuries per day. Accidents also tend to increase during national holidays. For example, in Richmond VA, ten people were killed on the roads in 2016, over the Thanksgiving weekend. By November 2017 close to 800 deaths had already been reported, all emanating from reckless driving behaviors.
Any time an accident happens on the road, it can lead to death or life-threatening injuries. Most accidents that happen on Virginia roads can be associated with negligence. These acts include speeding, failing to observe traffic rules, fatigued driving, or distracted driving. For instance, if someone has been working for very long hours non-stop, there is all the likelihood that such a person can make mistakes when driving, and such mistakes emanate from judgement. Due to these reasons, authorities in Virginia are not only harsh but also very ruthless, when dealing with reckless driving offenders. They want to ensure that all road users, especially drivers observe traffic rules to the latter, in an attempt to reduce fatalities associated with reckless driving. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Virginia has some of the toughest traffic laws in the country.
- Virginia Reckless Driving Speed Traps
Speed traps are sections of a road that is under heavy police monitoring and surveillance. They are usually set up to catch speeding offenders. There are different types of speed traps in Virginia. Police officers usually set up speed traps in areas they are easily visible. For example, you might find them hiding around a bend or behind a billboard waiting for speed violators. You might also find them at the end of a road stretch or at the bottom of a hill, where there is a high prevalence of speeding. Officers also tend to hide in areas where there are speed limit changes. They usually hide in those places and wait for drivers who are traveling beyond the posted speed limit. The officers usually argue that those speed changes have been posted for a reason and violating them equates to breaking the law. In Virginia, you required by law to adjust your speed accordingly, once you notice a speed limit change signboard. If you pass that signboard without adjusting your speed, then you can be charged with speed-related offenses.
You might be wondering what purpose speed traps serve. Well, most are set up in areas that are prone to accidents. Motorists will then approach that area with caution, knowing that any speeding attempt will land them in trouble. It also helps to minimize speed-related accidents in such areas. Law enforcement officers also set up speed traps in areas that people commonly speed, such as on a long stretch of an open highway. Whether you are a Virginia resident or not, as long as you will be using the roadways in this state, you need to know that speed traps are all over the place. Virginia has some of the lowest death rates associated with speeding offenses in the country, due to their strict and harsh speeding penalties. Therefore, law enforcement officers consider them as something positive on the roads. Also, judges take speeding offenses seriously. It is, therefore, the duty of every road user to observe speeding rules. Observing speeding rules helps to avoid the serious ramifications that come with speed-related convictions.
- Reckless Driving FAQs
Most people charged with reckless driving don’t understand the seriousness of the charges they are facing or even the options available. Some of them rush to plead guilty while assuming that the court will hand out a lenient sentence. However, that is not always the case. A reckless driving conviction can alter the course of your life forever. Here is what you need to know about these charges.
- Do I need a lawyer?
Reckless driving is a serious criminal charge. It is a Class I misdemeanor offense, which carries heavy penalties. Therefore, going to court to face these charges without speaking to a reckless driving attorney first equates to putting yourself at too much risk. The thing is, reckless driving charges are not equal. Furthermore, not all judges and courts treat them the same way in Virginia. As much as some judges may be lenient, some will hand out the maximum prison sentence. Some courts may not even permit you to negotiate with a prosecutor without legal representation. As you can see, you are at the mercy of the judge, whenever you face reckless driving charges without an attorney. It is therefore advisable to hire an attorney who understands traffic rules and one who has handled reckless driving charges before. Retaining a reckless driving attorney gives you the best chance of fighting these charges and avoiding the serious consequences that come with conviction.
- Should I fight my reckless driving charges?
If you have been charged and convicted of reckless driving, then you can just pay the fine and walk away. However, doing that doesn’t end the matter. Admission of guilt to reckless driving charges is equal to tying yourself down with a permanent criminal record. With a permanent criminal record, you will find it extremely hard to land good jobs or even to secure decent housing. Any background check will be enough to reveal your criminal record. Furthermore, if you fight the charges and win, then you can save yourself plenty of money that could have been paid in the form of fines. Also, some car rental companies may deny you a car rental, based on your criminal record.
- Can I have the Reckless Driving charges dismissed or reduced?
The answer is yes. In Virginia, there are numerous procedural and legal arguments, which can lead to a dismissal of the charges. An established reckless driving attorney can challenge the circumstances that led to your stop and arrest. An attorney can also challenge the calibration of the equipment used during your arrest as well as its maintenance. A lawyer with a good understanding of the system can get the charges dismissed or reduced easily. Doing that will save you thousands of dollars that might have been paid in court fees, fines and increase in insurance premiums.
- Can I lose my job from a Reckless Driving Conviction?
If you always rely on your car to drive to work and your license has been suspended, then you will be in serious trouble. Avoiding a license suspension should be one of the top priorities when fighting reckless driving charges in court. If you are currently employed, then a criminal conviction can easily lead to termination. For example, if you hold a government job that requires a security clearance, holding such a position while you have a criminal record is a violation of your contract. Also, commercial drivers may lose their jobs, if their normal driving license is suspended for a significant period. Losing your job due to a reckless driving conviction will make it even harder to land another one, due to your criminal record.
- I have been charged with reckless driving, and I am not a Virginia resident
Whether you are a resident or a non-resident, Virginia treats reckless driving charges as criminal offenses. Therefore, you can’t simply pay the ticket and walk away. You are required by law to appear in court and answer the charges. Without a lawyer, you will have to be traveling to Virginia every time there is hearing. If you find yourself in this situation, just hire a local reckless driving attorney, who can represent you in court during the court proceedings.
What Are the Virginia Reckless Driving laws: Codes and Statutes
What constitutes reckless driving in Virginia? In the Commonwealth of Virginia, various driving behaviors are considered as reckless driving. They include general reckless driving, reckless driving by speed, failing to give way to an emergency vehicle, passing a stopped school bus, and drag racing, among others. Most of these driving behaviors are due to negligence on the part of the driver. All these driving behaviors are clearly outlined in Chapter 8 of the Code of Virginia, under Article 7 on reckless driving and improper driving.
- General Reckless Driving: Regardless of the maximum speed allowed by law, any person that drives a vehicle in a reckless manner or in a way that endangers life, limb or property is liable of reckless driving.
- Driving a vehicle with faulty brakes or one that is not in proper control: In the Commonwealth of Virginia, you can be charged with reckless driving, if your vehicle is not under proper control or its brakes are insufficient or improperly adjusted. Normally, it is almost impossible to determine whether a vehicle is faulty. However, once an accident or incident occurs on the road, the police officers will assess the scene, collect witnesses and then charge the person whom they deem responsible for the accident.
- Passing on a curve or at the crest of a grade: Whether you are in Fairfax or Quantico, you can be charged with reckless driving in Virginia if you pass or overtake another vehicle that is going in the same direction or one that is approaching a curve on the highway or a vehicle approaching the crest of a grade. The only exceptions to this rule is in a situation where a roadway has two or more designated lanes dedicated to each direction of travel.
- Driving with control impaired or obstructed view: Did you know that you can be charged with reckless driving in Virginia for driving with an obstructed view? Well, driving a vehicle that is excessively loaded or the front seats are filled with passengers in a manner that blocks a clear view of the side mirrors is considered as reckless driving. The only exception to this rule is in a situation where you are rushing victims of an accident to a hospital or during such emergencies.
- Passing two vehicles abreast: In Virginia, you can be charged with reckless driving for passing or attempting to pass two vehicles abreast, in a situation when the two vehicles are traveling in the same direction. However, this law does not apply on a highway that has separate roadways or one with three or more lanes dedicated to each direction of travel. Another exception to this rule is in a situation where one of the two vehicles is an electric mobility device, bicycle, or electric-power assisted bicycle.
- Driving two vehicles abreast in one lane: Driving a vehicle a breast to another one in a lane dedicated to one vehicle amounts to reckless driving. However, two motorcycles traveling on a single lane dedicated to one vehicle are exempted from this rule. It is also important to note that any validly authorized motorcade, parade, or motorcycle escort is exempted from this rule.
- Passing at railroad grade crossing: Any motorist on the roadways of Virginia, who passes or overtakes another vehicle moving in the same direction at an intersection of highways or at a railroad grade crossing is guilty of reckless driving. The only exceptions to this rule is when you pass at a railroad grade crossing or on a highway with two or more lanes dedicated to each direction of travel.
- Passing a stopped school bus: As much as it might appear as a minor traffic violation, passing a stopped school bus amounts to reckless driving. According to traffic rules, if you are driving a motor vehicle and you approach a stopped school bus, then you need to stop too, to allow the vehicle to discharge children, physically or mentally disabled persons and the elderly. Drivers are expected to stop until the bus has discharged all the persons, the individuals have cleared the highway, and the bus has started moving. A driver should also stop when approaching a stopped school bus that has been stopped on a divided highway, on an access road. Drivers are also not expected to stop when they approach school buses when discharging or loading passengers on property that is immediately adjacent to a school. This section only applies to school buses that have the correct markings as prescribed by law. However, the evidence of a law enforcement officer, the school bus driver or a supervisor of school buses is enough to prove that indeed the vehicle was a school bus.
- Reckless driving by speed: This offense remains one of the most common when it comes to reckless driving. In Virginia, you can face reckless driving charges by speed if you are caught driving at 20 mph over the posted speed limit or at 80 mph regardless of the allowed speed limit. Law enforcement officers normally use speed-measuring gadgets to determine the speed at which you are traveling. However, you need to differentiate reckless driving by speed from a normal speeding ticket. Although both offenses are related to speeding on the roadways of Virginia, reckless driving by speed is a misdemeanor criminal offense while normal speeding is just a traffic infraction.
What Are The Reckless Driving Fines and Penalties In Virginia
According to the Code of Virginia, crimes are divided into two main categories: felonies and misdemeanors. A crime is usually considered a felony or a misdemeanor based on the prison sentence. Misdemeanor offenses are less serious than felonies. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense, and a prison sentence is handed out, then you will serve the jail term in county jail. Those convicted of felonies, on the other hand, serve their sentences in a state prison. In Virginia, misdemeanors come in four categories. Class 1 misdemeanor offenses are the most serious. As much as reckless driving may sound like a minor traffic violation, it is considered as a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. The legal penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor offense include a prison sentence of up to 12 months, a fine of up to $2,500 and or both.
- Will I Get Jail Time For A Reckless Driving Conviction
When reckless driving is charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, then the Virginia Code and Statutes allow a prison sentence of up to 12 months. Whether you will end up in prison or not usually depends on the nature of the offense that you have committed. If you are a first offender, the chances are high that you will not end up behind bars. However, if you have prior reckless driving convictions, then the judge may sentence you to jail, in an attempt to discourage you from such offenses in future. The actual number of days you will spend behind bars depends on various factors. If it was a case of speed, then the judge will use the number of mph exceeded to determine your prison sentence. Reckless driving charges can also escalate to a Class 6 felony if you caused an accident that led to the death of another person. The penalties for a Class 6 felony conviction include a maximum prison sentence of 5 years and a minimum of 12 months, a fine of up to $2,500 and or both, depending on the decision of the jury.
- What Are The Fines from Reckless Driving Charge
As noted above, a Class 1 misdemeanor offense carries a maximum fine of $2,500. It’s upon the discretion of the judge to determine the exact amount to fine you. Some judges may also choose not to fine you, based on the circumstances. Your driving record, prior reckless driving convictions as well as your defense in court, all play a significant role in determining the actual amount of the fine imposed.
- Will I Receive a License Suspension From Reckless Driving Charge
Whenever you are convicted of reckless driving, you accumulate a certain number of demerit points on your driving record. According to the DMV, reckless driving and other Class 1 misdemeanor offenses, usually attract 6 demerit points against your driving record. If you accumulate 12 points within 12 months or 18 points within 24 months, then the DMV can suspend your driving license. You will need to hire a reckless driving attorney to fight your reckless driving charges, in a bid to avoid accumulation of demerit points, which can lead to license suspension.
- What are Other Consequences of Reckless Driving
Apart from the legal and administrative penalties, reckless driving also comes with serious personal ramifications. For example, all misdemeanor and felony convictions in Virginia carry a permanent criminal record. Therefore, considering that reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, you will end up with a permanent criminal record, which can jeopardize your future opportunities in education, housing, and job opportunities. A criminal record will also show up whenever people are conducting security background checks. Such checks can deny you travel documentation. Civil liability is another consequence of a reckless driving conviction.
Virginia Reckless Driving DMV Demerit Points
To discourage drivers from committing continuous reckless driving violations, the DMV applies a point system based on the traffic offense. If you accumulate too many points on your driving record, then the DMV is permitted by law to suspend your driving privileges. Every time you commit a traffic violation, you will attract a certain number of demerit points on your driving record. The demerit points will remain on your driving record for at least 11 years since the day you committed the offense. In Virginia, a license suspension based on demerit points depends on the nature of the offense, your age as well as the number of points you have accrued over the years.
What are Virginia Reckless Driving Insurance Consequences
Apart from fines, license suspensions and potential jail time, a reckless driving conviction can lead to increased insurance rate. It remains a major concern for reckless driving offenders. You need to note that Virginia doesn’t have a standardized insurance point system. In other states like North Carolina, once a driver is convicted of a moving violation like reckless driving, they will receive a certain number of points as outlined by state legislation, in line with that offense. The number of points given has a corresponding percentage increase in insurance rates. For example, an offense that leads to 1 point will lead to a 25% increase in insurance premiums in North Carolina. However, Virginia does not have this statutory insurance system. Virginia uses a demerit point system, although this is not connected to insurance points in any way.
As previously noted, reckless driving in Virginia attracts 6 demerit points. However, this may not automatically increase your insurance premiums. The 6 demerit points are usually assessed against your driving record. They can then be used to suspend your driving privileges if you accumulate them to a certain limit. Insurance companies in Virginia use their own point system, to determine your insurance premiums. However, this point system does not in any way correspond to the number of demerit points you have earned on your driving record due to reckless driving. Most reckless driving incidents involve accidents. Some insurance companies will increase your insurance premiums due to the accident. However, they may not increase the premiums if the driver was not responsible for the accident or some circumstances beyond the driver such as an animal, flying gravel or emergency use led to the accident.
Also, some motor vehicle insurance providers will only increase the insurance rates if the damages incurred exceed a certain amount. For instance, if you are convicted of reckless driving, then you will be deemed responsible for that accident by the insurance company. In line with that, if you are involved in numerous accidents within a certain time frame, then your insurance premiums will automatically increase. The good news is that some insurance companies in Virginia have programs known as accident forgiveness. During these programs, they will consider various factors to minimize the surcharges imposed on reckless driving offenders. Some of the considerations include the length of time that the driver has been a member of that insurance company, the driving age, as well as the length of time that the driver has maintained a clean driving record.
Some insurance companies in Virginia use a conviction point system to establish the insurance premium increases. For example, reckless driving incidents or accidents that lead to injuries of other road users carry the heaviest penalties. They are ranked in the same category as hit and run and DUI. On the other hand, reckless driving incidents that only involve speed or don’t cause injuries have a minimal effect on insurance premiums. Another factor that insurance providers consider when determining insurance premiums is the age of the driver at the time of the accident. Drivers who are over the age of 21 usually receive a lower increase as compared to those under the age of 21. If you are an out of state driver and you are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia, then your insurance provider has the liberty of determining the rate to increase your insurance premiums, based on their policy.
Some insurance companies may also choose to cancel your insurance cover if you are involved in a reckless driving incident. Since Virginia doesn’t have a statutory requirement as pertains reckless driving, if a firm feels that your driving record is hurting their business, then they will terminate your cover. You also need to note that demerit points that you attract during a reckless driving conviction will remain on your record for two years. This means that if one insurance company cancels your cover, the demerit points will appear when the next insurance company is going through your driving records. The insurance company can then use your negative points to increase your insurance premiums.
Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyers
If you have been driving long enough, then you know that a moment of distraction on the road can lead to an accident. Even the most careful drivers on the road sometimes find themselves in such situation. It doesn’t matter whether you have had the cleanest driving record in the state. As long as you have been charged with reckless driving, the consequences apply equally. It is therefore advisable to hire a reckless driving attorney to represent you if you have been charged with reckless driving. Whether it is a case of reckless driving by speed, passing a stopped school bus, causing accidents or failing to yield, all these charges carry severe penalties. The good news is that you don’t have to face these charges alone. Doing that is risking your life, your reputation, and even your future. You need to consult a reckless driving lawyer, who will guide you on the most appropriate course of action to pursue.
If you have never been charged with reckless driving before, then the court environment can be intimidating. However, you don’t have to appear in court always. Your attorney can represent you during the hearings. You will only appear in court whenever you are required to do so. Reckless driving attorneys understand the stakes in such cases. They will, therefore, work tirelessly to ensure you receive a positive outcome in your case. Most people avoid hiring a reckless driving attorney, on the assumption that it is expensive. However, that is not always the case. Furthermore, if you happen to be convicted, you will end up with a permanent criminal record, which you cannot equate to any sum of money. As much as hiring a reckless driving lawyer might appear costly, the benefits that come with a dismissal or reduction of the charges outweigh the costs by far. If you have been charged with reckless driving anywhere in Virginia, ensure you contact a reckless driving attorney as soon as possible.
Links to sources
If you face a reckless driving charge in Virginia, contact the law firm of Weiland Upton. We provide free initial consultations, accept credit cards and are conveniently located near I-95 and I-295 in the Richmond area. Call us at (804) 355-8037 or contact us online.
John Weiland got the best possible outcome for me (dismissed charges) when faced with a Reckless Driving charge that could have ended much worse. He was accessible and friendly from the start, and told me exactly what to do for the best chance of a dismissal – and I didn’t even need to be at the hearing!
I highly recommend Mr. Weiland for anyone needing a traffic attorney in the Richmond area.