A variety of traffic charges can cause you to be penalized with a fine, but reckless driving presents the potential for a particularly large amount. As a Class 1 misdemeanor, reckless driving may carry severe punishments; it is important to be aware of the possible financial repercussions of a reckless driving conviction in Virginia.
Equip yourself with the knowledge of what the average fine amount is, as well as what determines how much a fine may be and additional factors that could cost you financially if you are charged with reckless driving.
Actions That Could Constitute Reckless Driving
In order to understand how a reckless driving fine is calculated, you must also understand what reckless driving is as a charge since what you were doing at the time of the offense may impact the total amount if you are convicted. Reckless driving is a subjective category of behavior that generally covers actions considered to put the lives and safety of others, and their property, in danger while you are operating a motor vehicle. Most people assume that this relates to excessive speeding, which it most often does, but this is not the only potential action that could cause you to be convicted of reckless driving.
In addition to speeding more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, or over 90 miles per hour regardless of the posted limit, reckless driving includes actions such as racing, failing to use signals, improper or dangerous merging, driving a vehicle with obscured windows, passing on the shoulder and variety of other risky actions. Any of these behaviors may constitute a reckless driving charge, and the court will evaluate the actions taken in the vehicle when determining the amount of the fine to be levied.
The Average Fine for Reckless Driving
In Virginia, the fine for reckless driving cannot exceed $2500 because it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Some jurisdictions will choose to impose the maximum amount, but in general, a couple of factors will work together to form the final total. If you were driving over 90 miles per hour but not at 100, fines tend range between $300 to $600; however, if you exceeded 100 miles per hour, you can expect fines to be closer to $1000 or more. Be aware that the low end penalty for reckless driving is $250; you will generally not receive a fine lower than this.
Factors That Influence the Amount of a Fine
Many courts have their own systems for determining how much a reckless driving fine should be. One of the most common tactics is to charge a set amount per mile per hour above the speed limit, typically ranging from $6 to $10. For example, if you were driving 80 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone and the court decided that their rate was $10, you could expect a $300 fine (30 miles per hour at $10 each).
Some courts also have baseline speeds that benchmark specific fine amounts. For example, anyone exceeding 90 miles per hour will automatically be fined a minimum of $2000 in courts that operate in this manner. Because there is no preset fine for reckless driving, your outcome may vary greatly depending upon in which court your case is heard.
Keep in mind that you should also factor in court costs when evaluating your finances after a reckless driving charge. On average, Virginia court costs for reckless driving total about $80, though there is considerable variance in this number. If you elect to pay your fine via credit or debit card, you will also be charged a 4% convenience fee, which can add an additional $80+ to your payment if you have been fined $2000.
Some courts offer payment plans most commonly extending for 30 days, though you may need to pay a small fee, as low as $10 in some locations, or a down payment to enroll. If you are unable to completely pay off your fine amount by the conclusion of your payment plan, you may have your driver’s license suspended.
Work with Legal Professionals to Reduce Your Fine if Possible
If you are facing a potential fine for reckless driving in Virginia, a legal professional may be able to advocate on your behalf in court for a lower penalty. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge can help you to better understand your options and represent you in court for your reckless driving charge. Contact one of our experienced defense attorneys to schedule a consultation to develop a strategy for reducing your reckless driving penalties if possible.